Arriving in Mendoza around 9am, I checked the map at the info center. 15 minute walk, the hostel website said, so off I trotted, then laboured, then finally stumbled through the door of All in Mendoza Monkey Hostel about 35 minutes later. It was warm.
Immediately, Luke, the Belgian owner greeted me, invited me to have some breakfast, and wanted to know if I wanted to join my roommates on a wine tour. He apologised that they were Australian (seriously!). I almost caved, but upon hearing the price decided to find out more about it first.
The day was chilling, I walked down to Plaza Independencia, the main square, and upon returning Luke asked if I was willing to ‘chaparone’ Priscilla, a Brazillian girl, up to the Cerro Gloria look-out. Apparently it can be a bit dodgy up there on your own. Being the naive bravado-filled man I am, I didn’t hesitate, but she ended up doing a Gaucho tour (Argentinian cowboy) which went up there instead. I’d have more to do with her later. No, don’t be dodgy.
Meanwhile I’d gotten chatting to the few people not out heavily partying on the Saturday evening, and discussing what to get for food. The tour was back and the aussies had passed out – appparently it’s a bit of wine, but they were providing a bit of whine – everything had something to complain about. No pleasing some people. As we were considering the supermarket, Luke mentioned he and some friends were doing an asado outside, and if we got some meat they’d cook it for us. He wrote down the suggested cuts of meat, and a quick trip to the local Carrefour and we were ready. We also discovered blue cheese on crisps goes really well, but I digress…
The asado to me now is what I view as Argentina’s typical dish, and its best. What is basically a grill close in over an open fire, the essence of an asado is the people. While it takes skill from the asador or chef – a crazy man named Mattheus, the gatherings of family and friends – old and new – while the meat cooks, is what makes these so fantastic And then there’s the steak. Heavily salted, that’s about all they put on it, and it’s grilled to perfection. The asado steak melts in your mouth, and indeed in Buenos Aires there’s talk of a steak restaurant where you eat your steak with spoons, so tender is the meat.
This was the best steak I’ve ever remembered having the local wine put out for us by Luke was great, and the company was good fun. A welcome start to Mendoza, and I finally crashed out rather late. Argentina was starting to live up to my dreams.
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