As we leave Argentina there are so many things we are thankful to have been able to experience and that we know we are going to miss.
dulce de leche
Most of all we’ll miss the Argentinian people who were always friendly, patient with my bad Spanish, helpful, and welcoming. We’ll miss Argentina, but I know we’ll be back.
Next stop is Chicago to visit friends, family and attend our nephew Matt and his fiance Melissa’s wedding. I’ve also challenged Jeff to a White Castle slider eating contest. I’m pretty sure I know who’s going to win.
Normally a 13 hour overnight bus ride would fill me with dread. But in Argentina it’s something to look forward to, especially if you go first class.
A first class ticket on the bus line Cata gets you a big seat, foot rest, blanket, pillow, newspaper, curtains to section off your seat and a personal tv. You also get your own personal garbage bag which doesn’t sound like much unless your husband has a cold and is going through a lot of tissues.
Soon after the bus started out we got served this sandwhich with either water or coke. My first thought was, “Nice, but this is not going to hold me for 13 hours.”
Ham item #1
It turns out this was just the appetizer. The second thing we were served was this plate of assorted mini ham sandwiches.
This course came with it’s own mini bottle of wine.
Then came the main course, breaded meat, potatoes all covered in ham. It looks weird, but was strangely delicious.
We had the choice of coffee, tea, water or champagne with dessert. It was so tempting to get champagne because when do you ever have the chance to drink champagne on a bus? But, I went with water. I wasn’t sure how champagne would taste with flan.
Then it was movie time. We had the choice between two different movies, both in English with Spanish subtitles. Once the movie was over everyone pulled their curtains around their seats, lowered their seats back and put up their foot rests. The seat turned into a fully horizontal bed.
The best part besides the fully reclining seat, wine, and garbarge bag was that for the entire night the rest of the bus, all 18 other passengers were silent. No cell phones, talking, kids crying, nothing. Just pure silence. We both actually got a pretty good night’s sleep considering we were on a bus.
The next morning we were served orange juice, coffee, and a plate of assorted cookies, no ham. If we weren’t leaving Argentina tomorrow I’d take a few more buses. It was that much fun. But, then again I do amuse easily.
With less than a week left to go in Argentina, I realize there is no way I can do it. I was very eager early on, but then as I ran out of the popular cuts and was left with lots of organs, I lost my appetite. When faced with the choice at a restaurant – the best, most tender rib-eye steak you’ve ever had, or kidneys, it was not a hard choice.
So, I continued to eat lots and lots of beef but stopped trying to eat all the parts. I did recently add one new part of the cow to my list, and a scary part of a pig.
First the pig, no it’s not a pig head.
I love sausage of all types. But, there is something disturbing to me about blood sausage, it’s not even the name or idea of blood sausage. It’s the color. Blood sausage is really dark, almost black. I think if it was bright red it wouldn’t be so disturbing.
So when our friends Nati and Frankie came over for an asado (Argentinian barbecue) with blood sausage, I knew now was the time to try it.
Jeff cooked it up and left it on the fire until it sort of split open.
And then I tried it. Here’s the thing, blood sausage is amazing! It doesn’t taste like blood, it is soft and slightly sweet. I’m not sure what it tastes like in other countries, but in Argentina, cooked over a wood fire, it’s incredible.
Mollejas are also known as sweetbreads or the thymus gland of a cow. When our friend Leandro came over for an asado he brought all kinds of meat including mojellas. One last thing to add to my cow list.
I have to admit, they didn’t look pretty raw.
He doused them with fresh squeezed lemon juice and salt. Once on the grill they started to look better.
And then, when we actually ate them, they were really good. The texture is a big weird, sort of spongy, but they taste great.
So, that’s it for the cow eating on this trip. I plan to eat several more pieces of cow between now and when we go back to the US, but they will be my favorite cuts bife de chorizo and bife de lomo. Not only will I not be eating an entire cow in one sitting, I won’t be eating an entire cow in one country. The rest of the parts will need to be eaten on other trips.
When we planned a day of wine tasting in Lujan our goal was to taste a lot of wine. We achieved our goal and learned the meaning of the saying, “too much of a good thing.”
Lujan is only thirty minutes from Mendoza, or ninety minutes if you get lost, end up in a traffic jam, get lost again, then end up behind a horse.
Our appointment (all wineries require appointments) with Kaiken was at 9:30. We didn’t get there until 11:00 which is just as well. 9:30 am is a bit early for wine tasting, even for us. There was already a tour scheduled, but they were super nice to let us tag along.
The first taste was straight from the tank. If I knew how much wine was coming later in the day, I would have skipped this one.
The following tastes were really good and plentiful. Kaiken has some really great wines.
I must have already been tipsy at this point because I insisted we buy two Kaiken wine glasses. I’m sure two fragile wine glasses won’t be too hard to pack in our already stuffed suitcases.
By this point it was good we had already agreed that Jeff would be the designated driver all day. Jeff was completely sober before getting in the car, all day long. The same could not be said for me as a passenger.
Next stop was Ruca Malen for a luxurious five course meal. The lunch cost $100 US for both of us. In Argentina that is a lot of money and for us on this trip it’s a lot. We debated for days prior if we should do it or not.
You would think this was a government facility instead of a winery with the amount of security they had. A security guard had to radio someone to confirm our reservations before opening the gate.
Once we got there and saw the view, we didn’t have any doubts about lunch.
There are certain things I like in a market – produce, meat, local specialties, interesting people, and gross stuff. The Mendoza market or Mercado Central has the perfect mix of all of these things. I was able to shop, buy stuff for dinner, see cool stuff, and freak out at gross stuff.
The Mendoza market had just enough of everything. This was different than the Salta market which had way too much gross stuff for my tourist eyes to take in. Jeff wasn’t over the trauma of the Salta market either.