Tag Archives: llama

Cafayate wine tasting score: Zeunerts 1-siesta 5- bus 1

I’d love to say that we just came upon this llama out grazing or perhaps carrying a load of goods for a it’s owner.  But, in reality this was a photo op with a tourist llama. We paid fifty cents to get our photo taken with him.

We hadn’t planned a day of tourist llamas, the day was supposed to be spent wine tasting.   Cafayate is the center of high altitude Argentinian wine production.  We’ve been drinking some excellent wine from the region and wanted to taste it at the actual wineries.

There are several ways to wine taste in Cafayate. You can rent a car, go by bus, stay several nights, or go on a one day tourist excursion.  We opted for the excursion.  The tour was to stop at several sites along the way, the we’d have from 12:00 to 3:00 in the town of Cafayate.  There are about five wineries in town.   Jeff and I are experienced high speed wine tasters.  Smell, swirl, sip, run like hell to the next winery has always been our method of tasting wine.  We were confident that we could hit five wineries in three hours no problem.

The ride to Cafayate was stunning. We went through a gorge and canyon stopping along the way for photos.   The multi colored rocks, and formations like Devil’s Throat alone were worth the trip.

Devil's throat

The bus got to Cafayate around noon and stopped at winery number 1, Nanni.   We had a great tasting there.

The other two couples on the tour weren’t interested in tasting wine. You can see them in the background in the photo.   We left them to have lunch while we quickly scarfed down some empanadas and coffee.  We couldn’t wait to taste more wine.  We walked quickly to winery number two.

Winery #2 – closed for sietsta

Wintery #3 – closed for siesta

Winery #4 – closed for siesta

Winery #5 – closed maybe forever

You would think after almost three months in Argentina, we’d realize that businesses close from 1:00 to 4:00. Honestly, it never crossed our minds before doing this tour.  Finally we accepted the fact that we weren’t going to get into any wineries.

We raced to a wine bar.   We asked to see a wine menu. They didn’t know what we meant. We asked if we could do a tasting.  The waiter didn’t understand. Maybe several half glasses?  Still didn’t get it. How about just a glass of wine? No, they didn’t offer glasses of wine, only bottles.

not exactly Purple or Poco (2 Seattle wine bars)

We wandered around town, circled back and retried several wineries. Finally with only fifteen minutes before the bus left, we ran to a restaurant and ordered any two random glasses of wine. We chugged them and got back on the bus.

On the way back to Salta we stopped at a winery…just to take photos. We weren’t actually allowed into the winery.  We did stop and see more really beautiful scenery.

But the tourist llama really was really the best part of the trip.

 

Tilcara – Taking a break from cow…to eat llama

Normally, we would never go anywhere that was over 3 hours away on a day trip.  That would be like going from Seattle to Salem, OR or Chicago to Cedar Rapids, IA and back in a day. But, Argentina is large and it takes  longer to get everywhere on a bus.

We made sure to get on the correct bus this time. I asked every single driver at the station, multiple times.  Poor Jeff was had to pretend he didn’t know me.

We were the only ones doing a day trip, everyone else were college aged Argentinian backpackers. We could tell because besides backpacks, they all had mate gourdes, thermos, and guitars.

They showed the movie Happy Madison dubbed in Spanish.  You don’t really need to know Spanish or be 21 to enjoy the movie, but it helps.

some of us enjoyed the movie more than others

Once we got to the town it worth a 4 hour bus ride and Adam Sandler.

Tilcara is an amazing little town nestled in the mountains in the middle of the desert.  The backpackers and tourists seemed to outnumber the locals by about 10 to 1, but it didn’t matter.  Even in this tiny town we had entire streets almost to ourselves.

For lunch we went to a restaurant that served “regional specialties.”     After having so much beef it was a nice change to see llama (pronounced jama) on the menu.

We had the choice of several  llama dishes, we went with the llama casserole.

Just having some veggies and not just a hunk of meat on a plate was nice.  The llama was tender and flavorful, tasted nothing like chicken.

I think llama might have once been a local dish, but no one other than tourists and gourmet foodies are eating it now. It’s probably similar to rabbit. You can get rabbit in fancy restaurants in the US, but very very few people in the US are sitting down to rabbit sloppy joes or rabbit tacos at home.  Traditional or not, it was super good food on a super long but fun day trip.