Friday, May 11, 2012

You Can't Go Home Again? Or Mistaken Ordering?

 I am no vegetarian.
My last trip to Argentina I had a mind-blowingly delicious steak at tourist and local stalwart La Brigada. Delicious though it is, La Brigada is not generally the kind of restaurant I frequent. It is fairly expensive in a country where good, affordable, delicious food is everywhere. The menu has an English translation (which generally sends me running for the hills). La Brigada is not a secret dive. The waiters are all charming, serve with a flourish and generally speak English. More strikes against it.
But, even Anthony Bourdain could not argue with the beef I remember from my last trip.
 Seated for an early lunch I quickly perused the near endless list of beef, lamb, goat cuts and offal available.
Mojellas, Argentine style grilled sweetbreads, are the food I crave and can rarely find outside of the land of the gaucho. These are maybe the best I have ever had -- and believe me, I've had them everywhere. Crisp exterior, delicate creamy interior, brought to life with just a squeeze of lemon. I think my eyes rolled back in my head after just one bite.

I should have stopped there.
 Next from the a la carte menu of grilled delights, chinchulines de cordero -- grilled lamb's intestines. Why did I decide to branch out? I usually order the beef version of these crispy, fatty, crunchy oddities and love them. The lamb version, at least as served at La Brigada,  just don't have the same depth of flavor, the same ratio of chewy to brittle, the same overwhelming whoosh of delight.
Clearly I was flustered when the waiter questioned my choice to not order, as he called it, "meat." I capitulated and allowed him to steer (no pun intended) me towards bife de chorizo, a monster sized strip loin steak.  I know better. This more than man-sized cut did not have the toothsome flavor of thinner or more exercised Argentine cuts I prefer (and will be tasting soon). In fact -- in a first for any steak I have had in this beef loving country -- La Brigada's offering was actually dry and chewy. I was so shocked I left it standing on the plate. Another first.
I blame myself. Like a restaurant rookie I ordered fast and -- in a hurry to get to an afternoon meeting, didn't order well. I'll go back to La Brigada and try again. In the meantime I will linger in the memory of the most delicious sweetbreads ever -- and make sure to order them again.

No comments:

Post a Comment