Argentina has a specialty they call “parilla” [par-ee-sh-a]. I just call it “Mmmmmm”. Generally, most people would describe it as barbeque, but it’s not really. It’s meat (sometimes veggies, but really – these people dig on their meat like middle America digs on their soda). All kinds of meat – chorizo (pork sausage), pork chops, steak, chicken thighs, chicken sausage, blood sausage*, ribs – grilled on open air grills, sometimes tiered three and four grills high, and you can get it everywhere from street food to 5 star restaurants. Its pretty much all fantastic, even the worst of it. The best that I’ve had, however, is below:
My first trip, four years ago, on a road trip somewhere around a town called Las Flores (I think). My Spanish was so bad at the time all I could do was point on my own body to the part I wanted and wait to see if my non-verbal communication class did its job. Lucky for me, I got the ribs I had motioned for, and they came from this beautifully janky grill: A lot of us here in America would look at that and worry about the state of it – the ash piling up on the bottom, the uncleaned grill, the crookedness of it – but that, my hungry friend, is all integral to the delicate deliciousness that is the parilla.
Fast forward to 2009, to another great open air parilla, back in Buenos Aires, in San Telmo. This nameless wonder is wallpapered with testimonial notes and drawings from patrons from all over the world: This grill (note the ash on the bottom) is a little smaller than at most places, but oh that “choripan” (chorizo sausage in a roll, top it with chimichurri) was soooooo goood:
This, from an indoor restaurant parilla – where I’ve been twice, both times stumbling upon it, both times blowing my mind AMAZING (best pork chops I’ve ever had, no questions.):
From L to R, that’s pork chops, a deliciously rare steak, and morcilla (blood sausage). Look at the grill marks on those meats…..mmmmm. It’s good to note and nice to know, too, that these meats aren’t drowned in butter or extra grease to make them good, they’re just good quality meat cooked with love and skill as is.
Ohhhhhhh mama mmmmm. Just the way I like it.
And for our last meal of the trip, we went to Parilla La Rosaria, a neighborhood restaurant that a store owner recommended (also in San Telmo). Now I have to say, I love offal, and one of the best things about Argentina is how much they love it, too:
That’s blood sausage, intestine, kidney, chorizo, tripe, and a bit of pork chop. See, look how happy I am, sitting in a lovely enclosed patio, eating delicious insides, drinking delicious Torrontes (an acidic, fruity white wine from Salta):
And Judah’s grilled pork shoulder with perfectly grilled apples (makes me want a grill of my own to grill fruit!):
Here, have some chorizo. I promise it’ll make your life:
And for dessert, a Don Pedro: a scoop of ice cream in a shot of whiskey with some walnuts. Simple and delicious:
If you’re on your way to Buenos Aires anytime soon, I’ll let you know where these places are. They’re all in San Telmo. (except for the first one, which I couldn’t help you out with, really. I don’t remember other than that it’s in Los Flores. I think….).
In the meantime, though, transport yourself to La Rosaria and try out this recipe for a Dressed Up Don Pedro:
For Toated Walnuts:
- 1T walnuts
pinch brown sugar
Heat butter until melted, add walnuts, salt and sugar and toast until nuts are browned.
Whiskey Whipped Cream
- 1c. heavy cream
1/4c. powdered sugar
1 egg white
1 shot (1.5oz) suberb quality whiskey (a sweet aged bourbon is a good choice)
1. Beat on high until peaks form.
Serve over shot of espresso, shot of whiskey and scoop of vanilla ice cream, top with toasted walnuts, and orange zest.