Food and wine in Argentina has been on a different level to everything else in South America! Strong malbecs, juicy steaks and hot empanadas have all been tempting me and I have definitely been indulging!
It started in Mendoza, my first stop in Argentina, where there were so many great looking restaurants and I decided to treat myself. One day I went on a cycling wine tour through Maipu, one of the wine areas south of Mendoza. Throughout the day we cycled to 3 different wineries, trying a couple of wines in each one, an organic olive oil producer, and a craft brewer. Lunch was served at the second winery with proscuitto sandwiches and ham and cheese empanadas.
Dinner most nights has been steak – even if its not cooked exactly how I like it, its always tender and juicy.
There are also loads of ice cream places, mostly providing gelato style ice cream, highly influenced by the large number of Italian immigrants over the last century. The most popular flavour is Dulce de Leche and there are several variations too, all of which I can confirm are amazing!
Empanadas are everywhere and make a great snack or a few together for lunch. I’ve tried to find a cooking class to learn how to make them and there are a few around but generally pretty expensive so I might have to do trial and error at home!
Whilst in Lima I decided to treat myself to dinner at àmaZ, where all the food is inspired by the Amazon. It is also listed as one of the up and coming restaurants by the World’s 50 Best Restaurants so I thought definitely worth a try! I sat at the bar and started with a Pisco Sour, a cocktail made from the local spirit Pisco. It contains egg white and lemon juice as well as Angostura Bitters so is quite sour (who would’ve thought!) but is very yummy!
The restaurant serves many of the starters in half portions so I decided to try one as an appetiser with my cocktail. I chose Amazonian Snail, which was served back inside the massive shell! In many ways this was much better than French snails which have been enveloped in garlic butter, as I could taste the delicate but earthy flavour of the snail itself and it definitely was rubbery, just slightly chewy.
As a starter I had tuna and passion fruit ceviche. Served with very soft avocado which balanced the acidity of the passion fruit, this was the best ceviche I have ever had!
For main course I had Amazonian fish cooked with onions and tomatoes inside a bamboo leaf. Soft and delicate, all the flavour remained in the juices floating inside the leaf. I asked the sommelier for a suitable glass of white wine to accompany the dish and was given a Spanish white Rioja, which I’m not usually a fan of, but it went very well with the fish and the slight acidity and sweetness from the tomatoes and onions.
After all that food, I was sadly far too full for dessert as they looked amazing!
So an expensive meal for Peru but relatively cheap compared to London. A cocktail, glass of wine, bottle of water, appetiser, starter and main course all came to a grand total of £45. A fab treat for me!