Argentina A Tourist’s Paradise

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Argentina – Haute Cuisine at Hot Prices

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Argentina has always been a land of delicious meats and cheap wines, but after the country suffered a crippling economic crisis in 2002, the culinary world has really taken it to the next level. With the help from government investments in the tourism industry, and foreign investments from entrepreneurs, many of the city's neighborhoods, or barrios, have been renovated and are now home to thriving gastronomic wonderlands of hip bars and clique restaurants. Happening areas such as Palermo Soho, Palermo Hollywood, and Las Canitas, house enough restaurants to keep one busy for at least a few months – without any repeats. To any tourist who loves to eat, drink wine, and well, eat well, Argentina is a must-see, or rather, a must taste.

The World's Best Meat?

{include file=google/200×200} The typical Argentine meal is centered around the beef. Free-range cattle from the Pampas give the meat a tender, natural, and all-around pleasing consistency and a fragrance that is difficult to find today in the United States. An asado or a barbeque is often the focus of family gatherings and get-togethers with friends and the asador, or the person in charge of the grill, does not take his job lightly, as meat is king here.

If you find yourself confused by the often immense selections, try the lomo (tenderloin), chorizo (juicy sausage), or my personal favorite, bife de chorizo (sirloin and rump steaks), which goes well with an ensalada completa (mixed salad), batatas fritas (French fries), and pan (bread). One of the best parts about dining in Argentina is the sheer range of the prices and styles of restaurants. In the bustling streets of Buenos Aires, one can easily find a delicious choripan with chimmichuri (sausage sandwich) for two pesos ($0.67 USD) at a popular parilla, or eat a thick slice of fine bife de chorizo, at a first-class joint for thirty pesos (about $10 USD).

Malbec and Mendoza Magic

And please, let's not hold the wine. The combination of an increasingly refined winemaking industry and the purchasing parity of the Dollar and the Euro in Argentina make even the country's finest wines accessible. Mendoza, the nation's foremost winemaking region, is booming and making a name for itself abroad, bringing the complex, full-bodied, and aromatic malbec grape into the spotlight. Atlhough the malbec grape comes from southern France, it has found a cozy home in Mendoza's sunshine and soil, and it's a perfect compliment to grilled meats. No asado can be complete without several bottles of Malbec, and once you taste it, you'll understand why.

An International City

In recent years, Buenos Aires has become a haven for tourists from around the world. The flux of foreigners has no only brought more money into the struggling economy; it has also enriched the culinary diversity of the city. A three-block strip of the middle-class neighborhood of Belgrano houses the city's Chinatown, a famous Scandinavian chef runs one of the city's finest establishments, and sushi can be found on every other corner. Food from other South American countries is also first-rate, as demonstrated by the chefs at Contigo Peru, also in Belgrano. In addition there is no lack of Italian and Spanish restaurants – a tribute to Argentine heritage. Fusion restaurants are also a big hit, especially of the Asian-Latino flavor.

Scream for Helado

Helado, or ice cream, is also legendary in Argentina. There is at least one heladaria on every street corner in Buenos Aires, and although several big chains (Freddo, Persicco, and Volta) dominate the scene, it is still very easy to find a small mom and pop shop with helado artensanal (homemade ice cream). Without, the flavors reflect the national obession with dulce de leche, a caramel-like sweet that can be found in any Argentine household. During the summer, portenos, or residents of Buenos Aires, flock to the city's parks with demi-kilos of their favorite ice cream. If you like fruit and chocolate, the frutilla granizada (strawberry sorbet with chocolate chips) at Persicco is to die for.

After a visit to a parrilla, a bottle of malbec, and a stop for helado, you will never want to leave Buenos Aires (all possible for less than $10 dollars). Also, if you have time, you should make the trip to Mendoza to visit the wineries, take in the spectacular scenery of the Andes, and enjoy quality dining in a different part of the country. Cooking class in Buenos Aires 


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