MENDOZA: SUN, WINE AND ASADO… (1)
I had the chance and pleasure to visit South America twice in 2010. During the first press trip, organized by BRANDABOUT with the complicity of some of the Wines of Chile wineries, we also crossed the border, flying above the Andes, straight to Mendoza. We visited there 5 wineries within 2 days, all situated in Mendoza, the wine belly of Argentina (about 2/3 of the total country wine production). It was my first time in Argentina and I was thinking it would be much more like Chile or Brazil. But strangely enough, it was quite different, at least the Mendoza parts we visited. The airport, the way to the city of Mendoza, the buildings, the people… all reminded me much more South-European sceneries from the past century, a mixture of Spanish and Italian styles, much more ‘Mediterranean’ alike than for example Chile. May be it was partly due to the fact I was expecting a much bigger, more modern and highly concentrated city… but Mendoza city is actually much smaller than I thought, only 110,000 inhabitants! The whole province of Mendoza is really huge and has a total population of about 1 million 700, nearly half of it leaving in Mendoza city and the many suburbs, forming the Gran Mendoza.
A panorama picture from Lurton’s bodega terrace (Mendoza region)
The city itself is quite cute, not spectacular, but clean, cosy and green, with lots of trees and parks. You won’t need much time to find a bar, café, restaurant, shop or whatever you could be looking for. Mendoza city is pretty much alive, especially in the evening. My only problem there was the level of pollution in the streets and in many cafés… Argentinean cars are not exactly as ‘clean’ as in we are nowadays used to in most parts of Europe. And many Argentineans are still continuously smoking like factory chimneys. A bit of a pity, because I really did enjoy this city. Fortunately, they are places where you can relax, eat and drink even outside on a terrace, with only the scents of the wonderfully tasty Argentinean asado (big barbecues with lots of fantastic meat). We had a very nice evening at El Patio (Parilla de Jesús Maria). You can say everything you want about the Argentinean, but one thing is for me really clear: they can bake meat! Here no need to ask for ‘a la Inglese’ or ‘vuelta vuelta’ if you want your steaks (very) ‘rare’, they know! It’s just perfect. Same for the ‘lesser’ (but much more tasty) parts of the beasts, they do have the talent and the skills to cook it heavenly, crispy caramelized (Maillard effect) on the outside, juicy and gorgeously tasty inside. Warmly recommended for the culinary carnivores under the readers…