Beyond Skiing Argentina. Argentina may be famous for the Tango, but it is also the home of world-class skiing which can be found along Argentina’s 2,300 mile mountainous western border with Chile. Their glamorous culture celebrates dance, fashion, art, cuisine, and fine wine. A ski trip to the Argentine Andes isn’t complete without a little shopping, a little Tango, and a lot of imbibing. Don’t forget to connect with your inner carnivore – and sweet tooth!
RED MEAT: Argentina is all about “Carne”. Cattle ranching and the gaucho way of life on the vast grassy pampas is a source of cultural pride. As a result: a plain grilled slab of meat is more delectable than anywhere else in the world. Asados (barbeques) are centered around the parilla (grill) and they are truly a cultural experience. Argentines prefer their meat jugoso (rare), and lightly dusted in salt and pepper. No sauces or frills are needed for meat this delicious, though a great Chimichurri sauce is a perfect accompaniment. Be forewarned, you’ll be entering a centuries-old dialogue with Argentines if you try to figure out the best cut, but most popular for asados are tira de asado, bife de chorizo, colita de cuadril, and the well-known bife de lomo.
ICE CREAM (helados) & CHOCOLATE: In the beautiful lake district around the ski towns of Bariloche, Villa la Angostura, and San Martin de los Andes, a very distinct Swiss and German heritage has led to a notable infatuation with sweets. Try the chocolate en rama at chocolatier Estella Alpina, found at kilometer 4 on Ruta 237, the road between the city of Bariloche and Cerro Catedral ski resort. In Bariloche proper or San Martin de los Andes, seek out the chocolate mil hojas (thousand leaves) at La Abuela Gove. http://abuelagoye.com/
Bolson-based ice cream shop Jauja is the undisputed local favorite, with boutiques in Bariloche as well. Their delectable and exotic flavors include mate con tres azucar (mate with three sugars), or calafate con leche de oveja, a sheep’s milk ice cream. http://www.heladosjauja.com/
MALBEC: For oenophilic powder-hounds, Argentina should top the list. Over a century ago, wine-growers took a little known red grape from France, and created the backbone of Argentina’s robust wine industry, the spicy, rich, and now world-renowned Malbec. Skiers heading to the international freeskiing haven of Las Lenas should spend a few days in the city of Mendoza – the high, dry, cradle of Malbec growers – for an in-depth experience. Take time for lunch at Francis Mallman 1884 Restaurant that is located inside a Bodega. Wineries offering tastings dominate the land outside of the city. Wine shops abound along the wide colonial streets, offering wines of all price ranges. You’ll want to investigate how many bottles of wine, exactly, are legal to cram into your luggage.
FERNET: Akin to a national cocktail, Argentines absolutely love this bitter spirit, which might take a few tries to get used to, but out at the bars, cocktails hours, and clubs, Fernet Branca is what to drink. A Fernet and coke is popular, but it can also be mixed with soda water, for a refresher in between dances at Las Lenas’ trendy UFO club, or Grisu, in Bariloche.
LOCAL DESIGNERS: The capital city of Buenos Aires is epicenter to a thriving, vibrant arts and fashion scene that penetrates to even the most far-flung Argentine towns. You can buy all the best creations from around the globe in Buenos Aires, but instead of going to the logo you know, take peek into small local boutiques in Mendoza, Bariloche, and in the trendy Soho and Palermo neighborhoods in Buenos Aires. Try these boutiques in the capital city for looks nobody at home is going to have:
Desi: desiderata.com.ar, Honduras 4733, 4833-3883
Lupe: 4833-0730, lupeba.com.ar, El Salvador 4657
FERIA SAN TELMO: A high-end street fair that takes place in the San Telmo neighborhood of Buenos Aires every Sunday. Artists and trendsetters clog the streets with beautiful high-end jewelry, art, and handmade crafts. Most vendors have incredible talent and style and spending time in their stalls is really quite the cultural experience. If you have limited time, I would recommend flying to Buenos Aires on Saturday, and spending Sunday (flights from the US generally arrive around 7 am) at the fair before heading west to the mountains. http://www.feriadesantelmo.com/menu.htm
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