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.
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.
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.