An Argentine Thanksgiving Part II – Photos
November 29, 2011
An Aussie friend joined me in giving thanks for our pretty awesome lives here in Buenos Aires. We started with a Fernet at Henri’s in Palermo; Fernet is a signature Argentinian drink, a mix of a strange herbal liquor that vaguely resembles Jagermeister, mixed with Coca Cola. It tastes awful, like nasty cough syrup, when made poorly, but the ones we had at Henri’s were refreshing. And strong.
Around 8pm we wandered over to La Cabrera – okay, actually, we ended up speed walking around Palermo trying to find the place, as neither of us had the address on us and, since La Cabrera is notoriously busy, we were trying to get there right at 8pm to be the first ones on the waiting list. There are two La Cabrera restaurants located on the same block, so we split our chances and put our names down at both to get into whichever could seat us first.
During our wait we had a glass of white wine at cute pizza and pasta joint up the street. This place, called Marcelina and Garcia, is yet another restaurant on the block owned by the same folks as the two La Cabreras. I think their great success is partially due to the tree of lollipops that is presented at the end of each meal:
After about a 45 minute wait we got our table at the larger La Cabrera, out on the sidewalk. It was a beautiful night, perfect for dining outside. After we were seated we noticed that they had more free stuff – champagne for waiting guests. If we’d only noticed sooner…
The service was the most attentive I’ve had in Argentina, where you usually have to raise your hand and wave like an eager child at school in order to get any attention. Our waiter’s name tag said something along the lines of ‘Ahuthaca’. The German women at a nearby table asked him what it meant, and he said translates to ‘Freedom Dove.’
After perusing the menu (and being generally clueless as to what most of it was), Freedom Dove took our order – Ojo di Bife (Rib Eye Steak), Mollejas (Sweetbreads/Cow Thyroids), and Chorizo (Pork Sausage). I’d read that the portions were large at this place, and the entrees come with a bunch of sides, so it’s advisable to order less than you think you need to and share the mountains of meat.
We also ordered a bottle of Malbec, of course; it tasted a bit tight, a bit young, but it mellowed as it aired out and tasted much better once we had some meat in our mouths.
We started with the Chorizo, which was tasty and moist and had a nice snap when you bit into it.
It was good, but my favorite meat of the night was the Mollejas, which tastes like a Pig and a Lobster had a delicious little baby:
Sweetbreads are actually the thyroid glands of cows – and these were some giant thyroids. We squeezed lemon on them and they tasted even better dipped in applesauce (one of our many side dishes).Despite it tasting like a baby lobster pig, with a seafoody texture and a lovely crispness on the outside, we couldn’t finish all three of them. This was due, in part, to the many side dishes, and that we still had to eat a big slab of steak.
I can’t even remember all of the side dishes we had – mashed potatoes, something with zucchini and egg, a salad with a raw egg hidden among the foliage, artichoke hearts, corn tabouleh, pureed pumpkin, and more.
Our Ojo de Bife steak was good, but after the many incredible steaks I’ve had in LA – at CUT, Morton’s, Ruth’s Chris, BOA, Mastro’s, Lawry’s…* – I wouldn’t say it was the best I’ve ever had. Maybe for the price… I would be paying two to four times more for any of the steakhouses listed above.
It might also be because our first steak, though giant and beautiful, was greyly and disappointingly well done when we cut it open; we’d ordered medium-rare. Our replacement steak was much thinner and definitely gave off the vibe that the cooks were irritated with us. Well, that was my feeling, anyways (I hate sending food back but I refused to have my first Argentine Steak Experience be well-done).
About half way through our meal, I was telling my Aussie friend about the delicious – and free – killer garlic rolls they serve at a restaurant in Venice Beach that I used to work at, when the diner next to me turned to me and exclaimed, “Are you talking about C&O Trattoria???” And I burst out laughing. Celebrating Thanksgiving in Argentina (in a neighborhood called Palermo Hollywood, no less) and I end up sitting next to a couple from Venice Beach. Fueled by wine (and more wine – they insisted on buying another bottle to share with us) we became fast friends and ended up eating and talking until around one in the morning.
For dessert – and, per the usual here in Argentina, it was an amazing dessert – we ordered the Dulce de Leche Crepes with Strawberries and Vanilla Helado. The crepe was jam packed with melty dulce de leche (ie, caramel) and the outside of the crepes had an almost creme-brulee kind of shell to them. Sooooo amazingly, incredibly, stupidly good. I didn’t even want the free lollypop at the end.
I think we paid around 250 pesos each; $62, including wine and tip. I know inflation in Argentina has gone up somewhere around 60%+ in the past few years (or more, since the Argentine government has price fixed Big Macs so they can’t be measured against other countries), but I’m still pretty sure you couldn’t get a meal like this in LA for $62.
So, despite being a bit disappointed by my first Argentine Steak, overall it was a fantastic Thankgiving – filled with new friends and Malbec and dulce de leche and pig-lobster babies.
*Wow. Reviewing this list of amazing steakhouses in LA that I’ve eaten at makes me look like a total foodie whore. Which I am. No wonder I have credit card debt…