Dereck and Richard, could you tell us a little about yourselves and your travel writing.
I was working Spain in 1953 as a young journalist, covering many assignments. During one of them, I visited a winery and thus began my love affair with wine and food. I soon shifted into writing about gastronomy and travel.
Norm, please call me Dick. Richard is the name on my passport but in conversation, I use and feel more comfortable with Dick.
Upon arrival in Buenos Aires, we went directly from the airport to our apartment. After we unpacked, we walked across the street into our local supermarket to stock our kitchen. The produce area was our first and possibly greatest shock. Almost none of the names we saw for fruits and vegetables were the ones used in Spain.
When we realized there was no handbook on Argentine food, we immediately thought of Dereck, whose articles on food we enjoyed in the Buenos Aires Herald. I approached him to suggest that he author the guide to Argentine food that we needed! He liked the idea but due to other committments suggested a collaboration instead, and Food and Drink in Argentina is the result.
I understand you specialize in writing about Argentina, particularly its food and drink. Please tell
Argentina is the southernmost country in South America. It is where I was born and raised and I started
Argentine food is fascinating because it is so varied, like the country there are five major climate zones, from sub-tropical to Antarctic, and the range of ingredients is much greater than one realizes if you think of
What is your favorite Argentinean dish and wine, and why?
As for wine, I am a fan of Malbec and Rutini Malbec in one of many favourites. I enjoy an empanada as a starter for most any meal and if one is enjoying an asado outside, a juicy empanada with a good glass of Malbec cannot be beat as a prelude to the main event. One of my favorite choices for lunch is a well-made Milanesa. I also like morcilla (blood sausage) and a genuine puchero. For desserts, a properly made panqueque de manzana is number one for me.
Wow! That is a loaded question because it implies that there is a single favorite but I do not have one. I am not someone who likes to eat the same thing day after day and I suspect your readers are not either.
In terms of wine, Malbec is the signature grape of Argentine wines but there are many other outstanding wines. One of my favorites is Fabre Montmayor Gran Vin, a Cabernet Malbec Merlot mix. Argentina is a land of immigrants, primarily from Italy and Spain but many other countries as well, who tried to make wines similar to those in their native region. As a result of that variety, coupled with increasingly sophisticated winemaking, there are many excellent wines available other than Malbec.
With respect to dishes, it would depend on my mood and my location. If I were in Ushuaia, at Argentina's southern most city, I would select centolla (snow crab), because it would be sweet and fresh. Although many other options would be available, I prefer my centolla simple, natural, i.e., steamed and served with butter but without sauces. In the main part of Patagonia I'd go for cordero (lamb) cooked slowly over a wood fire. This part of the country also makes wonderful chocolate, but I'd take fruit for desert the fruit raised here is simply outstanding (it doesn't get to the US much because the Europeans buy it up!) In Buenos Aires, I'd take beef in some form, with an ensalada mixta (lettuce, tomatoes and onions) accompanying it, with a flan casero - homemade flan - to complete it. I am always ready for a choripan - the Argentine improvement on a hot dog, consisting of a grilled chorizo sausage in a small roll. I could go on and name special foods I would select in every province but for that your readers need to consult our book.
If you had to choose 5 of the most romantic dining establishments in Argentina you have
I think every reader has his or her own image of what a romantic dining establishment is. Just the fact that a couple from the US or Canada is in a restaurant in Argentina adds a certain romantic element. To complete that, one needs a place where the service and food is excellent and the ambiance is conducive to relaxing and focusing on each other vice outsiders. However, I think it might be better to talk in terms of romantic getaways, which would be away from Buenos Aires and romantic dinning in Buenos Aires
For romantic getaways my first choice would be a place my wife and I visited in Misiones. We stayed well off the beaten path in the Estancia Santa Inés, a former mate plantation. It was a very special B&B. During the day, we visited the nearby ruins of Jesuit Missions (remember the Robert De Niro movie, The Mission) and in between we relaxed at the estancia, walking in the lovely grounds and gardens and nearby woods, entertained by howler monkeys. Meals were served family style with a very interesting family. When we came returned from touring or walking a full tea was provided in front of the fireplace. Our room was very large, with high ceilings and was quite private. It is a nice place to relax with your significant other.
Many people believe that the falls at Iguazu are in Brazil. However they are shared by the two countries and the best access and best views are from the Argentine side. For a romantic location make a reservation at the Sheraton in Iguazu, which is actually located inside the Iguazu National Park. Your window will overlook the falls and you will have ample opportunity to walk all around the falls. It is truly a beautiful and romantic location.
Another romantic getaway, indeed a good spot for a honeymoon, is near Bariloche: the Isla Victoria on the island of the same name in Nahuel Huapi. It is a five star hotel in a nature reserve, which is accessible only by boat.
In another direction and another province another romantic getaway would be the Posada Bodega La Rosa, in Cafayate, Salta. This is the Spanish Colonial style home associated with the Michael Torino winery. It is a lovely place, with excellent meals and there are many interesting things to see from there. Bedrooms have fireplaces and again there is total privacy.
For those travelers constrained to Buenos Aires, I would suggest a place where you are not going for the food but to watch Tango in a rather intimate atmosphere, El Querandí. The tango is excellent and the food is OK.
Buenos Aires is a huge city with many neighborhoods and the Bonarenses enjoy eating out. Thus there are many excellent places to eat. One of the neighborhoods, which my wife and I and all of our guests have enjoyed, is Palermo Viejo. It is very much like Soho or the Village, with lots of trendy clothing and jewelry boutiques to browse through before or after a meal. When we were there most recently, we liked La Baita for its excellent Italian food and atmosphere. For those who visit the San Telmo area, a must if you are interested in antiques or near-antique treasures, La Brigada is an excellent place to eat Argentine beef. Another of our favorites is Lola's at Recoleta, in the row of restaurants opposite the famous Recoleta cemetery. In the Puerto Madera, waterfront area, we like Parolaccia de Mar, Cabaña Las Lilas and Il Gran Caruso. An offbeat and fun Italian restaurant is Lucky Luciano in Palermo Botanico (near the Botanic Gardens).
Which cities or areas in Argentina would you recommend to the first time visitor and why? Could
Buenos Aires is a must for several reasons. It is the main entry point, whether by plane or a cruise.
Bariloche is a very popular destination in the lake country, and its German heritage is immediately evident. In winter it offers excellent skiing. In warmer seasons, it is very popular for hikers, and the starting point for a beautiful trip by lakes that crosses into Chile. South of Bariloche is Calafate, the town closest to the
For wine lovers, Mendoza is a must. It is a major city in the heart of Argentina's most important wine
In the high Andes, where some of the most spectacular scenery of all can be found, you can stay in a
Everywhere you go, by the way, you can hire a car and driver to take you around for very
As for seasons, that's really a question for the traveler there's something going on in every season,
How safe is travel in Argentina?
Tourists in Argentina, particularly in Buenos Aires, face the same problems with petty thieves such as pickpockets as they do in other large cities. You just have to exercise caution and not take all your credit
What would you say are the five most romantic cities or venues in Argentina and why?
Dereck and Dick:
How would you compare hotels, lodges, B&Bs etc from the point of luxury, comfort, and price, etc to those that exist in the USA or Europe?
Dereck and Dick
In the city and province of Buenos Aires, there are several world-class luxury hotels and some fine hotels
Is there anything else you wish to add that we have not covered?
Dereck and Dick
Argentina is still an undiscovered destination for North Americans it's a mystery to me, as it is such a
Thank you for your participation and good luck with all of your future endeavors.
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