Now I have travelled in Argentina several times so should have known better but on my recent trip I made the mistake of ordering steak. Argentina is renowned for its steak so this is a great idea but please do remember they like big portions and vegetables are a side dish. The steak that arrived was two thirds the size of my dinner plate and was accompanied by two green beans. Technically that is meat and two veg.
For a foodie Argentina is a great place to travel with plenty of meat options and great wines. The classic Parrilla is steakhouse restaurant where the meat is prepared on a grill, the most common way for beef, lamb or even guanaco to be cooked. You will find a wide range of them throughout all of Argentina. This is not to be confused with an Asado which is more of a social gathering and an event rather than just a meal out. Many estancias will have an Asado night.
Tango may sound like a rather touristy event but in Buenos Aires this is still very popular and a night out at one of the good shows will provide you not only with a fantastic meal but also a great view of the show. Pay the extra for the VIP service and you will get the best food and seats in the house, equivalent of the upper circle giving a great view down onto the stage. Even if you are not interested in dancing it is hard not to get swept up by the emotion of it all. I visited one of the oldest shows the Carlos Gardel which can be busy but the show changes to keep it fresh and the dancers are phenomenal, you will also learn some of the history of the dance.
For a more intimate eating experience then try dinner with a local family. I spent a wonderful evening at the Posada las Juncos with Sofia, Lucas and their daughter Olivia. They invited me in as a friend, unfortunately the weather was not so good so the outdoor Asado was not an option but I chatted to them in the kitchen while the food was cooking, then sat in the bar trying the appetisers and local (very strong) aperitifs. We sat down for dinner as a family and chatted about everything from pop music to politics and everything in between. The amazing slow roast lamb dinner was accompanied by great wine and it would have been churlish of me to turn down a tasting of the local brewed whisky La Alazana, particular as my guide, who had joined us, was a local bagpipe player and very proud of his Scottish ancestry.
The ”Argentina Experience” is an evening of light-hearted learning, eating and quite a lot of drinking. A welcome cocktail sets you up for the evening ahead. You will then learn how to create a number of wine cocktails before making the one of your choice. You then adjourn to the restaurant to learn how to make empanadas and partake in a three course meal with a selection of local wine. Ending the night with the quintessentially Argentinean mate, a communal “cuppa” not too dissimilar to lapsang souchong and definitely an acquired taste. You will also learn a few of the traditions and cultural nuances of Porteno life.