Savouring the Contributions of Immigrants — Quest for Ethnic Cuisines in Upstate New York…

8-11 August 2017

After a bit of a rest from my long South America trip I headed to Upstate New York for a few days of hiking and exploring, sort of a trip down memory lane. I spent several years of my life up there, and I’ve rarely returned, so I figured why not.

I made my way to Syracuse and cabbed it downtown — to get my rental car. Pro tip — your car rental may be 50%+ cheaper off-airport… Explored Syracuse and its vicinity for the day, a town I’ve not spent time in since 1991 when I was in town for a Red Hot Chili Peppers concert, to be told there was 2 opening acts I’ve never heard of at the time — Smashing Pumpkins and Pearl Jam. Wow, right? But Cazenovia Lake was gorgeous, and I didn’t enjoy falling into a stagnant swamp during a hike east of town…

With all the rhetoric going around in the US and the lack of seriously good dining ideas for this trip, I decided to seek out ethnic cuisines in the area instead for the next few days. The region is dominated by Italian food, so I was looking for anything but. So for Syracuse my choice was Polish, at Eva’s European Sweets on the west side of town.

I got to Eva’s European Sweets early enough, and it was already getting busy. I sat at the counter of the old-school diner, and having not eaten all day with all the hiking behind me, I ordered 2 mains — kiełbasa and gołąbki. With beer in hand, I chilled out. Then soon the food arrived. The kiełbasa was okay, filling enough. Pretty ordinary stuff to be honest.

1-Gołąbki

Unfortunately the gołąbki was nothing special. I don’t quite like how they did the filling, a bit too thinly minced, through the cabbage wrap was done well. To this day I still have not had better gołąbki/holubtsy than the one my late, dear friend Eugene Iwanciw made…

I had to take a bit of this voluminous dinner with me as I headed out, thanking the hard-working staff. It’s a bit sanitised for local palates, but it does its job well. Love to see more Polish restaurants tho…

The next day was more of a trek down memory lane as I slowly wound down to Ithaca. I did more hiking during a few stops, made a few cemetery visits — including in Auburn, where major figures of history like Harriet Tubman and William Seward are buried — and Watkins Glen, which should be visit for more than the racing. But eventually I made my way back to Ithaca, my home for 4 years during the early 1990s.

I had a bit of time so walked around and had horrible flashbacks all afternoon. Looking up (and down) Libe Slope didn’t help… I also went to visit a few local cemeteries, paying my respects to folks like Carl Sagan. Then I went back to Collegetown, which has changed in 20 years from anything I recognised. I went back to the only bar that I remembered…

After a few hours of drinking at my former “local” Rulloff’s (I lived upstairs for 2 years), I retreated to the venerable Souvlaki House (where I lived for a year before that). Again, looked about the same, and I sat at an unfamiliar table to the past to get a different view. I ordered and enjoyed some wine…so, so weird to be back in a place I’ve not been in over two decades…

The food soon arrived. First off the dolma, my usual start here. Not bad, brought back tons of memories of me chomping on these things while working on problem sets (before I left my engineering physics department for the poorer soils of the social sciences…).

2-dolma

Then the main, the moussaka. Well, brought back more memories. Not good, just damn filling. That was the point back then, and sadly, the point this evening too. I finished, thanked the staff, and made the tiring trek up that sharp hill to get to my car…and drove out of Collegetown forever…

Now this trip down memory lane is over I zipped out the next day for the other edge of New York state — Watertown. I’ve not been up this northern edge of the state since the early 1990s so it was good to relax along the lake and do more hiking in very, very hilly cemeteries along the way, in places like Utica. But the bugs up here are just nasty and I was covered in bites by the end of the day, when I pushed all the way up to Watertown.

I was exhausted when I got to there and just wanted to get some food. Ended up finding a Korean place in town, which surprised me. Sadly it was not busy at all when I arrived at Suk Hui Hi’s. Located in simple digs, I chilled and waited for my food.

The owner/cook was very friendly and loves her customers, you can just feel that. Soon the food began, and first was some steamed mandoo. Not bad, filling.

3-steamed mandoo

Then the main was some stir-fried squid. Not bad, just spicy enough to give me the sweats (tho it was hot inside). Too bad they didn’t have kalbi today. Not as sanitised ethnic food as I thought with the spices for this area, so a nice little surprise. Headed out relatively happy.

Unfortunately had some jackasses in an adjacent hotel room partying so I ended up going out boozing until quite late. Headed out the next morning north with a wee hangover and went up to Ogdenburg and the Canadian border to wander around and deal with more bugs. Then started heading back south via Oswego. Had the wonderful opporunity to visit the grave of Mary Walker, the Civil War surgeon who to this day is the only female recipient of the Medal of Honor.

Eventually I got to the northern Rochester suburb of Irondequoit. I was too tired on this Friday late afternoon to head into Rochester, so instead I found a surprising place nearby called Thai Mii Up. Love the name, but surprised it was a Thai-Lao restaurant.

A simple place that seems to do a huge number of orders — in and out. They were already very busy at the cusp of 6pm and by the time I left it was totally crazy, compounded by tons of take-out orders. Good to see a successful business up here! I relaxed and ordered and chilled out with some water. And soon the first course arrived, the lao sausage. Pretty good stuff, nice and with enough authenticity to make it a surprise for me in this part of Upstate New York.

4-lao sausage

Then the main item, mok moo. Mmm, this was excellent. Pork steamed in banana leaf. The pork was stuffed with herbs and veggies and spices, and even some vermicelli. Really tasty. I was pretty happy with this dinner; in fact, it was the best food of the four days Upstate. I headed out with a few snacks in hand pretty happy.

These four days in Upstate New York doing ethnic foods shows not just how immigrants enriched this large region, but how diverse the immigration has been over the decades. Everyone knows about the Italian cuisine in this area, but it’s really nice to see some others thriving. Whether it is a small, labour-of-love Korean place to a beloved local Polish eatery, from a time-tested, student-favourite Greek diner to a booming Thai-Lao restaurant that gives locals new tastes to explore, this was a relief from all the rhetoric that has been going on in this country. Even in places that are suffering from terrible economies, they still love their immigrants — especially through their stomach.

Eva’s European Sweets
1305 Milton Avenue
Syracuse, New York

Souvlaki House
315 Eddy Street
Ithaca, New York

Suk Hui Hi’s
1301 State Street
Watertown, New York

Thai Mii Up
1780 East Ridge Road
Irondequoit, New York

Advertisements

Meat Overdose in Buenos Aires…

24-27 July 2017

Rewinding a bit now, this review will cover some very meaty lunches in Buenos Aires. As I mentioned, I got to BA by hydrofoil from Montevideo and had rushed to the legendary La Brigada before last orders for lunch.

I got there and it was still hopping, so no problems with timing. I ordered and enjoyed a half bottle of red. Solid service, old school. Friendly server, was making footie jokes with him (in Spanish of course, my Spanish has improved remarkably in the last fortnight). Then the starter arrived…

1-lamb tongue

Lamb tongue. A cold dish, which was much appreciated. Nice stuff, not as good as the tongue in Santiago’s El Hoyo, but not bad. Then the main with a wee salad…

1-mollejas - 01

Kid sweetbread. Not bad at all. I’m not a sweetbread fan, but so rare you see kid sweetbread I had to go for it. Then a second helping (this was only about half of the order…) and I was full…

Not bad at all. Didn’t feel like heavy meats as I was not feeling that great, so this worked well. I headed out happily, thanking my excellent server. I like this place, and it lived up to its reputation certainly.

That night I had the good but voluminous dinner at Mishiguene after all those hotel challenges. The next day after my Recoleta disappointment I headed to another legendary parilla, Don Julio.

I took a counter seat as I was solo in a busy hour, so despite the heat from the parilla I was enjoying it. A half bottle of red and I ordered. Was hungry today from the long walks, so I was happy when my food arrived.

A plate of goat chinchulines, which was quite good. Makes me think of a few years ago in Madrid at Freiduria de Gallinejas. As I was working on it, my arugula salad arrived, then my longanisa (with the last of the 4 chinchulines)…

2-longanisa

This was excellent, fabulous flavour in this sausage. As I finished I thought, why not… I ordered another one and a salchichia

zzz

Both were excellent. This place knows their sausages for sure! I finished the food and polished off the wine. The service is hectic to say the least, but probably as they were extremely busy. So finally paid up and headed out for another hot ride in the Subte.

That night I had that fabulous dinner at Chila, which remains very memorable as the best food in Argentina. The next day of course as mentioned I skipped lunch and had a pretty good night at El Baqueano.

I woke up my final day in South America a little tired and ready to head on back north. My flight wasn’t until the evening so I had plenty of time. I took my time to check out and wander around before I ducked into the hot Subte on this warmer-than-usual winter day for lunch. My last lunch, and I decided to do all out.

Parilla Peña gets less attention than the other parillas I’ve visited, but it’s the one locals seem to like most. Far fewer foreigners come here, it’s really old school. I got a table next to a bunch of very old ladies…amazing how they still consume so much red meat at what I’m guessing late 70s or early 80s! I ordered a bottle of red and my food and chilled.

They brought out their complementary meat empanada…

3-empanada

Oh, excellent. I can eat these things all day. They are famous for these things as a freebie after you order. I kept enjoying my wine and quite a bit of water as it was warm inside too, and I was sweating a little. The sweating increased when my dish arrived…

3-asado

Oh dear this asado is gigantic. It’s twice as big as the one at La Pulpería in Montevideo… As I tackled it I was sweating profusely…oh the meat sweats…

Lucky I had salad with palm hearts to go along with it. But again, under-seasoned… In any case these were also far thicker than other asado I’ve had this trip, so it took over an hour to eat this. I got about 5/6th of the way through the meat before I had to call it a day… This was about 2 pounds of meat I think…

I thanked my server and paid the rather low bill…amazing how little things cost here! I headed back to the hotel by Subte and food and relaxed at the bar with some wine before my Cabify took me to the airport.

Thank goodness there was not much drama at EZE Airport. The red-eye to Atlanta wasn’t fun, especially with trolley chaos and one rather incompetent crewmember, throw in a delay at Atlanta to get home. A few bourbons later I was flying home. This was a long, long trip, and it’s finally over.

If one thing — I’m not going to be eating red meat for at least a few days…

La Brigada
Estados Unidos 465

Don Julio
Guatemala 4699

Parilla Peña
Rodríguez Pena 682
Buenos Aires, Argentina

Review: El Baqueano

26 July 2017

The next day my knee was just not happy, and my body was not happy. I think I’m officially out of energy for this trip. And the worst thing? I’m not hungry. I think I’ve had a meat OD… So I actually SKIPPED LUNCH this day… I wandered around the area and just took it easy, checking out some of the local architecture and historic churches in central BA.

But I had to deal with some flight issues too as I am heading back tomorrow, so spent an annoying bit of time in the afternoon sorting that headache out. And packing too. And eventually dinner time came around, and tonight’s destination is El Baqueano.

This was the place I really wanted to check out when I started doing research, even more than Chila — which turned out to be a wonderful experience last night. So I’m hoping for a double here. I walked there and had to wait as they didn’t seem ready at first…

Eventually they let me in and I was seated, and it was a bit chaotic. I tried to order a local tipple but they were out…apparently they were on break for awhile and just came back, so some things are not in yet… So I ended up with a Bolivian firewater called Supay…

Turned out to be quite mild, though it had a nice burn on the way down. I then ordered, going with the full tasting with pairing. I chilled out as I finished the Supay before they started up with some sparkling cider from Patagonia.

01-croqueta

The first snack was a croqueta. Was a little puzzled as the server said spinach and onion, but it tasted quite different… The manchego was leaking out quite badly as it was burning hot. Hmmm… Then the next item was a tasting of local grains…

02-llama

A mixture of quinoa and amaranth, with a bit of llama under it all. Not bad, all going down with a nice white. The pours have been good, and the server seems to be moving at speed now. I guess being on break for awhile takes a bit of time to get the gears moving… With a pour of a local Gewürztraminer the next item was a chip over a broth…

03-dried squid & shrimp broth

The rice cracker with dried squid and ink sauce was really good. I like how the squid came out, not too dry and full of flavour; the sauce was excellent. And the broth beneath was a shrimp broth, very nice. Enjoyed that.

Things are improving a bit. A few more tables filled now and things are starting to move well. Soon my glass was re-filled with a generous pour of the same Gewürztraminer and we get the next dish.

04-prawn

Nice sliced langostino here, soaking in a rather mild pil pil sauce. Not bad at all. And with it came a weird “sponge” thing…

05-sponge

This was…awful, sorry… Trying too hard here… I finished a fine riesling from Mendoza before a big pour of red and we shift into the meats…first up, quail.

06-quail

Nice, though I was a bit puzzled by the mole here… Not bad, especially with the mushrooms, but still puzzled… Perhaps some members of the kitchen took a holiday in Mexico? In any case, not bad. Then next up some buffalo…

07-smoked buffalo

Interesting, the buffalo picaña is lightly smoked, had a nice flavour albeit rather mild. Went well with the Malbec. I’m digging the interesting meats tonight, and that continued with the next course — rhea.

08-rhea

I had rhea last night at Chila, and this version was more substantial. They told me I was the first to try this…I actually like being a guinea pig for these things. Wee dry in the hefty meat, but the strong sauce helps it a lot. They asked for a lot of feedback here, and I happily provided. Good try, they can easily refine this to make it a fine dish.

Things slowed down a little. I enjoyed a bit of chat with some New Yorkers at the next table, as one seems to be a rather serious oenophile. Then we shifted into the next phase, the first up was the cheese course…

09-cheese

Frozen…kind of a cool way (yeah, you see what I did there…) to do the cheese course. I actually like it, as it doesn’t strain my already strained stomach — something that always happens with cheese courses (well, the accompanying bread/crisp/cracker/etc). Then into the proper desserts with a playful one based on the tomato.

10-tomato

Now this was excellent, full of ways to play with tomato, from the excellent sorbet to the flakes gracing the hearty cheese. Nice! I like them pairing this with coffee, odd but it worked. Then finally, the last dessert…

11-chocolate

More traditional, it floated around the chocolate here. Not bad at all, but clashed a bit with the sweet dessert wine…this is always my pet peeve about pairing with desserts… Wish they paired it with coffee again, so I ordered another and a closing drink. Not a bad night at all.

A few hiccups here and there, but a good evening. Things smoothed out quickly, reminding me of Eleven Rio in some ways. A good fun evening in general, tho not as good as Chila. But still quite good. I headed out and walked back to the hotel. I was out of energy so decided to just go back instead of checking out the many bars en route…

I am officially out of energy…

El Baqueano
Chile 499, San Telmo
Buenos Aires, Argentina

Review: Chila

25 July 2017

I got up feeling better, finally getting to sleep. When I woke up it was still relatively warm, but tolerable. I had a long day planned so I got up and headed out the door soon after.

I spent part of the morning wandering around Cementerio de la Recoleta, and I have to say it is one of the more overrated cemeteries I’ve visited. Compared to both the Cementerio General in Santiago and especially the Cementerio Central in Montevideo, this place was nothing special. I find it pretty much on par with places in Mexico and Colombia or Spain, boring, full of unimaginative mausolea. Plus, ridiculous amount of tourists (and touts), and loud groups that even disrupted a funeral! Ugh…

I headed out disappointed, so needed a good lunch. A walk, a Subte ride, and another walk and I got to another legendary parilla in BA, Don Julio. I had an excellent lunch (will review later) and was full as anything when I headed out. Back to the Subte back to the centre and I wandered around a bit.

One of the odd place I visited is the St John the Baptist Anglican Church. It wasn’t open, but the thing I wanted to see was the grave marker out in front, that of the first US minister to Buenos Aires, Caesar Augustus Rodney.

He just happens to be the only US cabinet member, the Attorney General under both Presidents Jefferson and Madison, to be buried outside of the US. I wandered around some more but nearly died when I slipped on some damn election leaflets that litter the streets…and I had enough as I felt my knee tingle, screaming “¡no más!

And of course my Cabify got lost and couldn’t follow basic directions, so I just cabbed it back to the hotel…no rip-off this time. I had to get some ice for my knee this time…ugh… This is what happens when you enter the 3rd week of a trip…

Later in the evening I got ready for dinner. Tonight’s dinner is at Chila, a place I had targetted to check out when I first started doing research for this trip. A nice walk to the restaurant, which is located right on the riverfront. A beautiful view…but I hope I’m not paying for the view like so many other places…

I was seated with a beautiful view of the water and started with a nice cocktail. I relaxed and then they brought the menu…

01-lilac-menu

…which is also the first snack, a bit of lilac in a thin pastry. Interesting touch, and I happily went with the full menu and pairing. Then the secon snack arrived.

02-beet chip roe_edited

Beet chip with roe of a local trout, with a touch of cream flavoured with the same local trout. Excellent. Then pretty quickly we have the next item — based on rhea.

03-ñandú

Rhea, or ñandú, is a local flightless bird, and the meat is encased in a hazlenut crust with black garlic. Excellent. I’m starting to like this place! BTW notice how they use different parts of the same plate… Then next up, an egg snack.

04-yolk

The yolk is covered by amaranth, spiced by cumin. Not bad. Oh, by this point the cocktail was done and they made a generous pour of a white from Mendoza. The service has been excellent so far. Then the next item made me smile, and the server smiled when I replied to him in Spanish — and from this point on we spoke only Spanish all night.

05-razor clam

Beautiful razor clam, fresh and clean — but too bad this was it! I wanted more! But then the bread service appeared and that signals a shift into larger items. Service has been spot on despite a very demanding table full of foreigners next to me — a group of nearly a dozen with tons of restrictions, demands and so forth…

06-corn sweetbread

The first dish, accompanied by a chardonnay from the south of the wine growing region, was a really deep broth with white corn mote and sweetbread. A curiosity is the addition of “malezas” — with not much description. Weeds? Lol…I’m assuming just foraged growth… But a nice dish overall. Goodness, had a flashback to that horrendous sodium broth from Olympe in Rio de Janeiro

A nice start, then we move into the next dish — prawn with carrot and yolk flakes.

07b-prawn_edited

Wow, there’s a real nice smoky sauce here that really added to the overall picture. The head was edible, being fried, but was tad too oily. But excellent, going alongside a nice rosé from Mendoza. Nice!

So far it’s been excellent, the best fine dining I’ve had since Lasai in Rio a week ago. Then we have some black hake with cauliflower next.

8

Looks odd, but it’s quite good. The flesh was flavourful and had excellent texture, and the cauliflower-based sauce was wonderful. Together with a Patagonian pinot noir, this was a fabulous combination! Then next up was cabrito.

09-cabrito

It’s more of a snack, sadly, attached to the side of this tuber. Sadly a poor combination. Odd that a small snack had its own pairing, a rather mineral-y malbec. Then we continue with a similar theme with lamb.

10-lamb_edited

An interesting dish of what is essentially a lamb tamal with purple corn and algae. Really solid stuff, lovely contrasting flavours here. I’m enjoying the creativity with local ingredients here. It’s not over-the-top like other places on this trip, but it’s solid stuff.

Then there was a rather long gap to the next dish. The kitchen likely got backed up by the huge, annoying group next to me. They seemed like to have just finished an academic conference and they are beyond annoying to be honest… The staff was nice enough to keep the wine flowing until the final savoury dish arrived — and look at this awesome knife…

knife

And the last item? Wild boar…

11-boar_edited

Now this was fabulous. The meat was cooked perfectly, with that wonderful flavour you just don’t get in farmed pork, graced by well-placed fennel. Really an excellent end. Lovely food, lovely service, lovely view — a rarity anywhere in the world!

At this point I would say if Michelin ever came to Buenos Aires, Chila deserves a star easily. Compared to places like Olympe, they should have 6 stars… In any case, they did another generous pour of the same wine as we had another break before the next segment. They noticed I enjoy these breaks — if properly lubricated — so they accommodated me. Now this is good service, kudos to the FoH here!

Then we had the first dessert, a tribute to some local fruits…

12-fruits

Nice stuff here, one of them is kumquat and lily — which you eat first, before they open the case for the other — cherry, hibiscus and mandarin. Really nice and worked also as a palate cleanser. And finally the last dessert, a nice cocoa finish…

13a-chocolate

What was awesome was the addition of a cup of pine mushrooms for its aroma…that worked so nicely! I happily relaxed at this point and with my coffee I ordered a single malt from Patagonia. Nice stuff. If it wasn’t for that annoying loud table next door I would have stayed, but I decided to head out after thanking the staff.

I gotta say this was fabulous. Not many places you have the view and have the excellent food and awesome service to back it up. I’m impressed. Reminds me a little of Quay in Sydney. A lovely evening, though marred by yet ANOTHER Cabify getting lost and forcing me to track it down… But a good end to a long day! Highly recommended, best meal in Argentina!

Chila
Alicia Moreau de Justo 1160
Buenos Aires, Argentina

Review: Mishiguene

24 July 2017

I got up feeling knackered and a bit hungover, which is what happens when you don’t sleep well and have 2 bottles of red… I was taking it easy before I noticed that I should be at the port 2 hours before my hydrofoil to Buenos Aires. Damn…so I rushed out and got to the port…which was empty…

But it was simple checking my bag and going through both Uruguay and Argentina immigration at the port. Chilled out before the ride in the rainy weather. Not much different from other hydrofoils I’ve taken, such as Hong Kong-Macau or Tallinn-Helsinki — of which I’ve taken way, way too many times over the years…

We got to Buenos Aires and the first thing that happened was taxi drivers tried to rip me off. Great welcome…so I told them no and got a Cabify. Of course the idiot driver went to the wrong place, and I had to leg a few blocks to get there…ugh…

Got to my hotel and dropped my bag and went to the legendary La Brigada nearby for lunch. I’ll write about this in a later review, but I was stuffed as I got back to my hotel. Problem was the room was blazing hot and there was no way to cool it down — until I forced them to bring me a fan. Ugh…the hallway was comfortable but the room was just stuffy and I was sweating up a storm…

That made me feel ill, and throw in the over-heated boat ride I was not feeling good at all. But nevertheless I still headed out to dinner as planned after resting a bit.

My hotel was far further from the Subte than I thought…I had misjudged the scale of Buenos Aires when I booked this place… Took 20 minutes to get to the Subte, which was stupidly hot (even in winter). The line changes are non-sensical. By the time I got to Plaza Italia in the Palermo neighbourhood I was a sweaty mess…and another 20 minute walk from that point…

Got to Mishiguene and decided on a table near the door — so I get the cool breeze when people came in. I relaxed and ordered a negroni, which was nice. I ordered but my server told me that it would be too much, so I took the starter off and just went with a main. Very nice of them to do that! Then the breads…wow, right?

bread

The music here is excellent, and the clientele at this earlier hour seem to be Jewish Americans. Why? Because if you couldn’t tell, this place features various Jewish cuisines from the diaspora around the world. Buenos Aires has one of the largest Jewish populations in the world, and there’s no better place outside of Israel to have a place like Mishiguene.

Then my main arrived and I see what my server meant…

pastrami rib - 01

Yikes is this big…but it’s pastrami ribs. Tasty, though perhaps not as strongly spiced as you’d imagine. It was more consistent with the style in Romania rather than New York or Montreal, but the size and cut is very Argentina…

pastrami rib - 02

Delicious but it was big. After my heavy lunch and feeling ragged, this was enough… I finished it just as I finished another glass of wine. I was full but needed something to chill, so ordered a small dessert…

Apple triffle - 01

The apple triffle was nice, a good way to end the night along with some coffee and grappa… I headed out happy and back to the hotel, where thank goodness my fan was blasting. I tried to get some sleep but it was still hot… I can’t believe I am sweating in the middle of winter with the windows open and the fan blasting…

Welcome to Buenos Aires…

Mishiguene
Lafinur 3368
Buenos Aires, Argentina

Day 3 in Montevideo: Nearing the Edge…

23 July 2017

I got up this Sunday morning feeling even more under the weather. Plus, this trip is getting into the end of its second week, which is when my energy ebbs… And the weather has turned, and it was rather ugly outside. I waited for the heavier rain to dissipate before I headed out.

I spent the late morning and early afternoon wandering the south side of town, especially along the coast down Punta Carretas. There’s a large settlement of stray cats along the edge of the city at the water, as they get plenty of stuff to nibble on from the many folks who go there to do some fishing. Nice walk, though when I got to near the edge I decided to not go all the way to the end — as the structure didn’t seem sound enough, especially with all the meat I’ve eaten…

But it’s quite something to stand what looks like the edge of the world, at the very southern tip of the city and country facing Antarctica. I wandered back uphill and stopped somewhere for lunch.

A nice little cafe called La Cantina del Puertito, which features non-parilla dishes…thank goodness, I need a break! So I ordered a beer and the day’s special. I couldn’t order more because this was one of those odd places that did not take Mastercard (and I left my Visa back in the hotel), so… But they brought out a nice little snack…

snack

Nice stuff. Then the dish came out, and it was a nice risotto with chicken and pumpkins.

risotto

Tasty and filling, cooked well and very flavourful. Good balance. A nice yet inexpensive lunch.

I wandered around a bit more before I headed back to the hotel. I had to do some packing and sort out stuff for tomorrow as I head to Buenos Aires. So that took a part of the afternoon. Later I wandered around a bit more in the neighbourhood before I headed to my last dinner in town.

Tonight’s dinner choices were limited, as most places in town seem to be shut Sunday evenings. But one place that was open was La Otra, so I got there at an okay hour. I ordered a bottle of Tannat as usual and some meats, a salad and some potato puré. Chilled out and enjoyed the wine and chatted with my server a bit — as he spoke English and Italian too, so we were chatting trilingually all night. Then the openers arrived…

Sadly the morcilla was really not good, it was cold. I was worried it may be undercooked, but it looks like it had just sat there… But the salchichia was completely different…

sausages

This was just excellent. Lovely flavours! Then I enjoyed a bit of salad and then the main arrived…and I shuddered…

asado

Goodness this asado was far larger than last night’s… It was still under-seasoned, and I finally realised they don’t season the meat much if at all here… Not bad at all, but it was extremely filling. I had to take half of this with me…

I ended the night with some local brandy and thanked my server. Not a bad way to end things here… I headed back to the hotel, but not after I grabbed another bottle of Tannat and headed upstairs. Had to do some paperwork, so had the wine and leftover to keep me going…

I’m gonna miss you, Montevideo… Maybe too much meat, but I like this town…

La Cantina del Puertito
José Luis Zorrilla De San Martín 176

La Otra
Tomás Diago 758
Montevideo, Uruguay

Day 2 in Montevideo: Discovering a Gorgeous Town…

22 July 2017

The next morning I got up feeling a bit under the weather…ugh, I bet I caught something at GIG Airport over the 5 hour delay and the stuffy full flight here…ugh, the curse of Brazil follows me… But I forced myself up and headed out.

An unseasonably warm and sunny winter Saturday, and that means everyone was already out in mid-morning. I had a wonderful long walk along the coast, watching people running, walking, playing along the Rambla. Montevideo is such a cool little town I’m already kind of enamoured with it…

I headed to the Cementerio Central, which is one of the most spectacular cemeteries I’ve ever visited — and I’ve been to hundreds and hundreds of them… Amazingly beautiful tombs, unlike many other South American places that are more mausolea-driven. Fabulous sculpting everywhere, amazing how few people know about this place (yet way too many go to the utterly-overrated Recoleta in Buenos Aires…but that later…).

All that walking since early in the morning has my knee bothering me again, so I decided to head uphill towards the centre and grab lunch. I ended up at one of the well-known parillada in town, El Fogón.

A nice old-school place with excellent service, I chilled out after ordering a half bottle of red and ordered. I relaxed and quietly massaged my aching knee while enjoying the nice (and ridiculously cheap) house red. Then soon my lunch arrived…

costillón

The veggies were wee sad and the fries just fillers, but it’s the meat that’s the centre of the dish after all. Not bad, but again wee under-seasoned. Far bigger than I’m used to for lunch, but it worked. Finished it just as I finished the half bottle.

I thanked my excellent server and headed out the door towards the centre. Wandered around a bit more, and finally seeing in person one of the most beautiful buildings in the world, the Palacio Salvo. I’ve wanted to see this building since I thought about being an architect in my teenage years, so this was really a great moment. But my knee was buckling, so after wandering a bit more in the area around the Plaza Independencia I got a Cabify back to my hotel…

Needed a siesta after all this…and got up a few hours later. I already had to get going to dinner, which is odd at such an early hour on a Saturday — barely 7pm.

When I got to my dinner location there was already a queue… This is the infamous La Pulpería, rumoured to be the best parilla in Montevideo. Lots of foreigners too, so the reputation has spread quite far. I squeezed into a counter against the window; this place has very few seating spots, which is why as I dined I saw a rather long queue outside. But the best thing is — they serve drinks for those queueing, so it’s a social gathering too.

I ordered a bottle of Tannat and my dinner and chilled as I enjoyed the wine and some bread. I didn’t want to make a fuss tonight so it was just some potato noisettes and the infamous asado

asado

Oh dear this was looking good. Not bad, but again under-seasoned. Has my taste buds been damaged by Brazil, especially that horribly salty soup at the disastrous Olympe? Or are things mild for a reason? I enjoyed the ribs, the wine, and chatting with a diner from France. A good solid evening.

I headed out and saw many disappointed faces as they realised I only vacated a single seat. I had to smile. Strolled back to the hotel and chilled out. I am really liking Montevideo…

El Fogón
San José 1080

La Pulpería
Lagunillas 448
Montevideo, Uruguay