Buenos Aires - Day 1
Arrived on Friday morning after a relatively easy 10 hour flight. Have reached the conclusion that if you have to fly, and as exciting as I still find it after many years, it's getting to be a real PIA, the ideal flight crosses only 1 or 2 time zones, is an overnight flight, there are lie-flat beds available and is about 10 hours long. Using that yardstick the Houston-BA flight was ideal. Departed at 9PM had a large glass of red wine after take-off, refused dinner, laid my bed down flat, sleepmask on and a sleeping pill ingested I slept for a solid 7 hours. Awoke to a hot breakfast and shortly afterwards landed with virtually no jetlag since we crossed only 2 time zones. Met Hugh of McDermott's Argentina at the airport and spent a pleasant couple of hours driving to our hotel, having lunch and comparing adventures. Hugh is a widely-experienced young guy whose adventures have led him from a childhood in Dorset, to horse rearing on the Masi Mara in Kenya, to riding his horse Pancho across the Andes and riding from the northern top of Argentina to the southern bottom end. He started his tour planning company a couple of years ago, initially organizing riding horse-based Argentine travel but now broadened to to cover a much wider clientele. Hugh accompanied me to a phone store to get my local sim card sorted for my unlocked phone, which was a godsend since my rudimentary Spanish does not cover the subtler points of local phone plans and pricing. Charming guy who works hard to put good itineraries together and to make sure his clients are taken care of.
In the course of our walk to the phone store we passed a restaurant, Don Julio, which Hugh said was one of his favourites, so we stopped and made a reservation for the evening. A traditional Argentine steak restaurant with super-abundant emphasis on grilled meats, with an extensive and well-curated wine list of Argentinian wines, and reputed to be one of the 3 or 4 best classical Argentine grill restaurants. The waiter was very knowledgeable and helped me pick, which was somewhat of a surprise, a Pinot Noir from Mendoza. I don't associate Argentina with Pinot's but then I really don't know much about Argentine wines. It was very soft and with a classic Pinot nose and more in the style of a new world pinot than a classical French version; very pleasant but not hefty enough for the grilled meats.
We started with a shared platter of offal grillé, a mix of grilled kidneys, sweetbreads and chitterlings accompanied by wedges of lemon, a first for V and a very good start to our mains.
I had a rib-eye grilled rare and V a thick sirloin grilled rare as well. When they came, very quickly, they were medium rare, so next time to get them rare we'll order them blue. Both cuts were extraordinarily flavourful but a little chewier than expected, I'm guessing both due to the fact that they are from grass-fed cattle rather grain fed. Hard for me to admit, but daunted by the size of the meat we were served! I started well, maybe a little too nonchalantly, while V carried on as she began, in a quiet, determined, remorseless way and finished hers, my slightly showy approach ended as these things usually do, with frustration and disappointment on the part of participants and spectators alike and I left the field and my steak, unfinished. Very, very good. No desert, a pleasant walk home and to bed.
V. says: The Palermo area where we are staying is fun. Lots of stylish young, the girls all in impossibly thick platform shoes. A great discovery at lunch..lemonade whipped with lots of mint and some ginger. Yum. Wonderful to sit out in the sun and watch the world go by.