Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Steak in Argentina

Lots of people will tell you that you have to have a steak when you're in Buenos Aires. Argentina is known for their beef, and we've seen lots of steak houses, but only a few people have suggested places to go and told us places not to go. Lots of the restaurants are mainly for tourists and are not frequented by locals, but we wanted somewhere where the locals eat.
After the walking tour we asked Sol for her recommendation, and she said La Brigada in San Telmo was her favourite. Another friend had actually recommended this one too, but then again, another friend from BA said it was not so good. Kami and I hadn't eaten all day--we both said we could eat a cow, for sure! Little did we know we would be, nearly!
Sol gave us the address and marked the place on our map. She also suggested we asked for “Romano” or Corte E’special,” both of which are NOT on the menu. We took the bus to San Telmo, which took about 15 minutes, and we got off at the same stop as we did for the Sunday street market. We only walked a couple of blocks before we saw the restaurant on our right.
As we went in, the host asked if we had a reservation, and we didn't. However, as people eat really late, typically, and it was only 8:30 P.M., the place wasn't packed. He led us upstairs to a nice, white clothed table and handed us two menus.
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The menus alone weighted as much as half a cow and looked like the side of one! They were covered in very thick leather with the cow hair still on them! They were black in colour and had a large, silver cow medallion on the front along with the initials LB embossed to look like it was branded into the leather.
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Kami ordered a bottle of red wine, and I asked the waiter about the two dishes that Sol had recommended. He said they were both great, but the Corte E’special was large and suitable for sharing. He did stress several times that both of these dishes were strictly cooked--just rare. I don't mind rare steak at all, but usually I have mine cooked medium. Kami likes hers medium well. We looked through the rest of the menu and both decided, "What the hell--we’ll try the special." We ordered some grilled sweet peppers as an appetizer and a caprese salad to go along with our meat.
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The wine was very nice and was so smooth that it went down like water. As we were waiting, we saw waiters bringing out steaks the size of plates, and as they placed them down on the tables, they would use a fork to hold them and a spoon to cut them! I think this was a bit of a marketing gimmick, as I'd seen a few places claiming that their steak was so tender you could cut it with a spoon! It was fun to watch, though, and even more fun to watch the customers' faces as they brought the huge steaks out!
I can only imagine what our faces looked like as they brought out our “steak.” It wasn't a steak, as such--it was more like a Sunday roast joint of beef! It was HUGE! The waiter “spooned” the meat into two pieces and placed one half on each of our plates. I've eaten rare steak before. but I've also noticed that in the US and in most other countries that when you get it rare, it's more like they've cut the cow's horns off, wiped its ass, and thrown it on the plate! This was exactly like that! It was the largest piece of meat I've ever seen!
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I realised that the first 1/4 of the meat all around was cooked perfectly and exactly as I liked it, so I sliced it all the way around and ate that first. Kami was fighting to cut the centre of herswith a knife let alone a spoon! After eating what we could, we decided we would take the rest home in a box and nuke it in the microwave for dinner tomorrow, but, in the meantime, we were both still starving, and we ordered a well done sirloin steak to split between the two of us. The waiter took the two chunks of meat from our plates, and I gestured for him to put them in a box. He muttered something in Spanish, drew the shape of a box with his hands, and took the pieces away.
10 minutes later, meat arrived at our table again. It was already in two separate pieces, and we took a piece each. It was then that Kami noticed that the piece now on her plate looked exactly like the piece he had taken away to be put in a box! We then discovered that he hadn't put the two pieces in a box, but had thrown them back on the grill to cook them a little more for us! As we were eating our now cooked-to-perfection, previously-ordered-rare steak, what should come along? Yup--a HUGE piece of well done sirloin steak!
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The sirloin was amazing--cooked to perfection for us both. It was nowhere near well done, though, and more like medium, which we both enjoyed a lot. I don't think I've ever eaten as much meat in one sitting in my life! I'm not sure I want to eat as much ever again! It's certainly not a restaurant for vegetarians to frequent!
We had a 15 minute “rest” after eating out main course, and we both decided it was a night of food and excess, so we looked at the dessert menu! One of my favourite desserts is rice pudding. I saw they had “rice with milk and cinnamon” listed, so I didn't even bother looking at the rest of the things. My mind was decided in that instant. Kami followed a similar pattern after she saw the Pancake with Dulce de Leche. She only said “panc…” and the waiter smiled and said the rest. It was obviously a popular choice!
The rice pudding was the best I've ever had in my life! It was so sweet, the milk was awesome, and it had just enough cinnamon to taste. Kami’s pancake was just as amazing and must have had a full jar of Dulce de Leche in it.
Rice pudding                                    Pancake with Dulce de Leche            nom, nom, nom
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