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for Independent Travel:

Argentina Arts & Epicurean

Includes Buenos Aires and Mendoza Wine Country

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Ahh....the flavors of Argentina. As with all travel destinations, the national cuisine of Argentina is influenced by history and by ingredients. Argentina is a land of immigrants, and waves of immigrants from Italy, in particular, and a historic connection with Spain have greatly influenced the cuisine of this proud country. In certain pockets of the country, particularly in the northwest, indigenous “Andean cuisine,” which pre-dates the arrival of the Spanish, is popular and focuses on potatoes and grains such as corn and quinoa. Argentina also is one of the world’s great food producers. Most prevalent are wheat, corn, beans and certainly beef. Wine, of course, is a major export as well.

Beef is king in Argentina, and nowhere is this more evident than in the vibrant and elegant capital of Buenos Aires, where a large percentage of the city’s 3,500 restaurants are parillas, which serve diverse cuts of beef along with wonderful sauces such as the piquant Chimichurri made from chopped fresh parsley, oregano, garlic, olive oil, vinegar and red pepper flakes. One of our favorite starters at parillas is Provoleta, an inch-thick slice of grilled provolone cheese with fresh herbs. Elsewhere, wonderful pastas and pizzas are quite popular thanks to the Italian heritage of a significant portion of the country’s population. From Spain come flaky empanadas, which typically are filled with corn, beef, ham and cheese, various vegetables or even apples. Argentinians also love sweets. Plain or slightly-sweet, croissant-like Medialunas are the main course at breakfast and extremely popular is Dulche de Leche, a sweet, milky caramel sauce that is consumed over wonderful ice cream, dabbed on bread, spread on cookies and even consumed straight-up by the spoonful!

CORK & FORK’s customized culinary and wine touring programs to Argentina seek to expose clients to the culinary diversity of the country. We favor culinary lessons that focus on traditional recipes and techniques. Making empanadas from scratch is a favorite, as is preparation of traditional Argentine stews such as a sweet and savory Carbonada, which includes beef, corn, squash or sweet potatoes and fruit such as peaches, pears, grapes or apricots. As part of a customized Argentina culinary tour, we can arrange private culinary lessons as well as Epicurean Walking Tours to include markets and specialty food shop visits (with tastings, of course). An interesting experience, though not for everyone, is to visit a local butcher.

As part of an Argentina culinary vacation, you also may wish to experience an authentic Argentine Asado (barbecue), whether in a backyard in the Buenos Aires suburbs or at an estancia in Las Pampas, home of the gauchos. Nightlife and dining in B.A. is a true experience and can be a tremendous value. CORK & FORK works with each client to personalize a truly memorable dining program.

And if you are looking for an Argentina wine tour program or to combine food and wine experiences, we would be delighted to work with you. Of course, the vast Mendoza region, with more than 1,200 wineries, is the epicenter of fine wine production in South American and a premier world wine capital. The Bordeaux blending grape of Malbec reaches its zenith here in the arid climate of the Andes, which features high altitudes, long days of bright sunshine and the warm, dry La Zonda winds, producing intense fruit flavors, good acidity and fine tannins. Malbec was first planted in Mendoza in the late 19th century in the Maipu region. Our customized Mendoza wine tours feature Maipu and other key sub-regions including Lujan de Cuyo, where many of the top producers such as Catena Zapata, Achaval-Ferrer, Bodega Norton and Doña Paula are located. Valle de Uco, is a very promising region 90 minutes from Mendoza City that features high-altitude viticulture (more than 4,000 feet above sea level) and exceptional wineries including Andeluna Cellars, O. Fournier and Bodegas Salentein, which also houses an impressive collection of Dutch paintings and modern Argentine art and sculpture in its Kilka Gallery.

For more serious wine enthusiasts, the other noteworthy wine region in Argentina is Cafayate, in the Northwest near Salta. This region, much of which resembles the American Southwest, is home to indigenous Torrontes, a highly-flavorful white that obtains its character from ultra-high altitude vineyards (up to 10,000 feet above sea level), intense sunlight (350 days of sunlight per year) and significant daily temperature variation during the growing season.

We love Argentina and would be delighted to help you fall in love with this beautiful, vibrant and flavorful destination.

Please contact us so that we may begin the process of handcrafting an exceptional Argentina travel experience including a Mendoza wine tour for you and your group of two or more.