Feria Masticar 2016

Feria Masticar 2016

I’m not usually a “festival” person. Long lines, massive crowds, getting jostled around without much to show for it… sometimes it’s just too stressful to handle. However, there are times when taking a deep breath and diving into the insanity is all part of the fun.

It’s time for Feria Masticar, the star of Buenos Aires’ burgeoning food movement, now in its fifth year running. Waving the #ComerRicoHaceBien flag, it promises four days of eating and drinking extravaganzas, with the city’s best and brightest talent showcasing their goodies for the people.

In an effort to make the experience more enjoyable for everyone involved, this year the fair is sort of an XL reloaded version of itself, having annexed a few extra blocks and open spaces surrounding El Dorrego. There’s a whole brasas section, a beer garden, tons of market vendor stands in the middle of it all, and more space overall to stroll/scarf/lie down when your food baby gets too big.

Let’s get down to business. Here’s my shortlist of what you can’t miss from this year’s edition:

Feria Masticar 2016 / i Latina

Savory

  • Chorichang by Astor Bistro (the wild boar raviolis are also the jam, slurp up that brodo, bro)
  • Arepas de pollo y cerdo braseado by i Latina (#PuraSabrosura)
  • Oysters from Patagonia (served both raw and breaded in Panko) by Crizia
  • Chorifish + Cebichón by La Mar (be prepared for XXXL lines, however, everyone wants a piece of Gastón Acurio’s Peruvian magic)
  • Empanadas de Yacaré by El Baqueano (yep, you’re going to eat caiman)
  • 100-hour Bondiola by Pura Tiera (Chef Martín Molteni literally makes me want to live in a cabin)
  • Pulpitos by my favorite neighbors BASA
  • Pastrón by Mishiguene
  • Prawns by Gipponi + Rastellino (#UnaToneladaDeLangostinos)

Feria Masticar 2016 / CriziaSweet

  • Sugar rush chocolates by Compañía de Chocolates
  • Dolce Morte ice creams by Elena (smoked milk has never been so sexy)
  • Elderflower sorbet by Cassis
  • Cookies by Santa Teresita (if you weren’t lucky enough to summer in José Ignacio, now’s your chance)
  • Chocolate Cardamom Mousse by the Nespresso Patisserie

Feria Masticar 2016 / GanciaDrinks

  • Bar de Vinos by CAVE (rent a glass for 100 pesos and go to town on some fancy wines from Argentina’s best bodegas)
  • Alfredo Romero + more by Ludovico De Biaggi at the Gancia Cocktail Truck
  • Mimosa de Remolacha by Julep
  • Negroni Balestrini at Florería Atlántico (points for their awesome floral garnishes and beards)
  • Pisco Punk by 878
  • Everything coffee by the Nespresso Patisserie (go for the coffee + chocolate pairings to really get your blood sugar roaring)

This obviously doesn’t cover everything, but these recommendations will guarantee you leave having sipped and nibbled one some of the best that Masticar has to offer this year.

Feria Masticar 2016 / El Esteco

Double up on patience before you arrive, be prepared to get pushed around by surprisingly strong Argentine grannies, and take a lap or two before you commit to anything. Crowds are more manageable later in the evening, and if you go on Sunday when things are winding down you might be able to take home some of the goods (one woman I spoke to made off with 14kg of clams last year… why that seemed tantalizing to her I will never know).

Feria Masticar
Zapiola 50 – El Dorrego
Now through Sunday, May 8, every day from noon-11pm

Entrance $80
Dishes & drinks range from $50-80
Be smart – Buy tickets in advance here

Feria Masticar 2016 / Florería AtlánticoFeria Masticar 2016 / Pura TierraFeria Masticar 2016 / NespressoFeria Masticar 2016 / Choribondi by La Cabrera

 

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Achaval Ferrer at the Clubhouse

It’s no secret that living in Argentina means you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to wine selection. From the BBB (bueno, bonito, barato) to even the most exclusive, your options are pretty much endless. I find that I waiver between branching out and trying new, up and coming bodegas testing the waters through new blends or techniques, and sticking with my tried-and-true favorites that never let me down. We are creatures of habit, after all.

AF

Achaval Ferrer has always intrigued me with its premium reputation and near-universal level of acceptance as one of Argentina’s best wineries. However, I’d never really taken the plunge to dive deeper. So when I got the chance to attend a tasting at the Clubhouse, I figured it would be the perfect excuse to give it all a whirl.

Achaval Ferrer at The Clubhouse

The Clubhouse oozes an air of intimate exclusivity that draws an interesting mix of expats (or tourists staying at one of Oasis Collections‘ properties) and locals that hope to one day enter into a relationship with one of these expats (not a bad game plan at all, you do you). After four years it has managed to stay current and trendy, due in part to its varied agenda of events that range from the cultural to the bacchanal. Besides, nothing beats their pool parties on a hot summer’s day.  Continue reading

#MAPA14 Comes to a Close

#MAPA Final What a glorious year it’s been for the aperitivo, wouldn’t you say?

Whether you’re a hipster who drinks Campari with soda while you’re at some underground party, a chic society girl sipping on Aperol as the sun goes down, or an old-school man’s man who washes down your Cinzano with potato chips, 2014 was a good time to celebrate our love for aperitivi.

It all came to a dramatic close last sunday at the Quinta Trabucco out in Vicente López. The 15 finalists – five experts and ten aficionados – set up shop at the bar and got ready to wow both the judges and the people, hoping to be crowned not only with the title of victor, but also with a ticket to Italy.

The sun was shining, not a cloud in the sky, and the humidity decided to let us all have a good hair day. Partygoers sprawled on picnic blankets (day drinking and sprawling definitely go hand in hand), scarfed down sausagey treats courtesy of DOGG, and chugged cocktails all in the name of honest competition. Also, there was a photobooth, of which I took full advantage, because duh.

#MAPA Cocomero Rosso#MAPA14 PhotoboothThe stakes were high, and there were a lot of great contenders out there. From the experts category, my favorites were El Sodero (Mar del Plata) and Tradición (Santa Fe). El Sodero is the perfect summer drink – crisp, sweet and citrusy, and light enough to trick you into drinking 25 without realizing that this is maybe not a good decision. The cool part was that the cocktail was mixed and loaded into a Drago sifón so each magical squirt was the perfect blend of boozey goodness. The Tradición brought together whiskey, green apple, pecans and cinnamon, resulting in a dangerously delicious drank that I would happily put into a thermos and call it my special juice.

From the aficionados side, my personal favorites were the Cocomero Rosso and the Divino Fibonacci. The former took on one of the Argie’s favorite myths – that drinking wine and eating watermelon together will result in CERTAIN DEATH. Somehow, by the grace of God, we all lived to see another day. The Divino Fibonacci really brough it home with the divine proportions, Cynar, and a rosemary garnish. Simple, light, fabulous. I may or may not have had several servings of each. Hey, I had to be sure of my favorite before hitting the ballot box, right?

As voting wound down, everyone started to get antsy and we just wanted to know WHO WON ALREADY PLEASE TELL ME. Drumroll please….

Little Blackberry Spritz, el aperitivo ganador de Facundo Tochi (1)Cocomero Rosso, el aperitivo ganador creado por Matías DanaCordobés Facundo Tochi took home the expert prize with his Little Blackberry Spritz, while Matías Dana and his Cocomero Rosso soaked up the glory for the aficionados. Both winners will get to pack their bags and hit up Italy with their team captains, not to mention the badassery of calling themselves Crown Prince(s) of #MAPA14.

If you want to see more pictures from the day, visit the Comando Gourmand Facebook album.

Feeling nostalgic? You can still follow the #MAPA14 hashtag on Twitter. Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone.

 #MAPA14 Comando Gourmand

Auguri! #MAPA14 Finalists Announced

#MAPA14 Finalists

After a grueling first phase of cocktail creation, the finalists of the second edition of #MAPA14 have been announced! More than 300 people – experts and aficionados alike – put on their creative thinking caps in the hopes of wowing the judges and winning a trip to Italy next year. Needless to say, the stakes were pretty high.

Let’s recall the challenge, shall we? Choose one of the dishes inspired along the Ruta del #MAPA and weave it into a story alongside an original aperitivo using either Campari, Cynar, Aperol, or Cinzano.

The jury had their work cut out for them, that’s for sure. Guillermo Blumenkamp (owner of the magical Doppelganger), Luciano Banchero (journalist and creator of Podcast.fm) and Pamela Villar (chef/pastry queen at Yeite) were tasked with choosing the lucky ducks who will compete on December 14 at the final at the Quinta Trabucco in Zona Norte.

OK, so who passed the first test? Drumroll please…

Experts: Facundo Benitez, Facundo Tochi, Nicolás Brachet; Bruno Landin, and Luis Miranda.

Aficionados: Cayetana Vidal, Sofía Galarce, Joe Fernández, Natalia Salamone, Ingrid Beck, Belén Jung, Luis Redondo, Matías Dana, Matías Faure, and Lucía Seisas.

Sadly, I didn’t make it through. There were some pretty amazing stories and drinks in the running – I’m talking to you, guy who made a drink with 12 ingredients inspired by the zodiac and person who used the Fibonacci sequence as part of their story – and my final presentation was definitely more of the “could have been done by a kindergartener” vibe. I am proud of what I came up with though, because #selfesteem.

Without further ado, I present to you, La Vecchia Milano:

1 oz. Aperol
1 oz. Príncipe de los Apóstoles Gin
1/2 oz. Rosemary syrup
Crushed ice
Fresh strawberry
Sprig of rosemary

Pour the rosemary syrup into a lowball glass, add plenty of crushed ice on top. Pour in the Aperol and Gin and stir to combine. Garnish with a fresh strawberry and sprig of rosemary.

La Vecchia Milano

Stay tuned for updates after the grand finale next week!

 

Hernán Gipponi’s T&A at Gran Bar Danzón

…That’s Tapas & Arroz, sickos.

HG at Gran Bar DanzónLast week Hernán Gipponi took over the kitchen at Gran Bar Danzón and rocked Recoleta’s socks off with a four-day gastronomic extravaganza. The propuesta? Tapas, rice, and wine, featuring versions of HG’s most well-known dishes, such as organic rice from Corrientes, sous vide eggy goodness, and light, citric desserts that cleanse the palate.

Gipponi has been acting as a bit of a free agent after parting ways with the Fierro Hotel in Palermo Hollywood several months ago. Though I’m surely going to miss his legendary brunches and One Table dinners there, change is a very good thing for all. After slinging nearly 500 kilos of prawns from Chubut at Feria Masticar, he moved onto this miniature residency at Danzón the last week in October.

Credit Gran Bar Danzón

Credit Gran Bar Danzón

The menu was paired with Zuccardi wines, with the spotlight shining straight on the Aluvional La Consulta 2010. This wine alone is beyond worth the price of admission and was indeed the metaphorical frutilla en la torta of a culinarily epic Monday night.

We started off with a little pincho of cured beef with mustard, grilled tomato, and turnip pickle. Done, delicious, come to mama. Paired with a crisp glass of Alma 4 Chardonnay, it was a nice prepper for the massive feast that was to come.

Huevo, papa, molleja - Gran Bar DanzónNext up was the tapas round. Much like a gameshow, extra points were indeed earned for scarfing down as much as humanly possible. Between the chilled fennel and green apple soup, baby squid with alioli, salsa brava and papel de calamar, the beef tongue served with little morcilla meatballs, and the sous vide egg with molleja, potato and onion… yikes I just drooled all over myself while reliving this moment. If I had to choose a favorite, it would be a tie between the fennel soup and the egg, but both the squid and blood sausage morsels really gave them a run for their money.

As if it were possible to have any more room for extra food, the main event was yet to come. The skillet of organic rice from Corrientes served with prawns, pork belly, leeks, and giant lima beans was brought out to much fanfare, our cup of La Consulta served suavely alongside it. Jaws definitely had to be picked up off the table; thankfully the music was loud enough to mask our borderline inappropriate moans and exclamations.

After such an intense savory sesh, the only logical dessert was the Copa HG – a light, foamy yogurt mixed with iced passion fruit, lychee, and toasted pumpkin seeds. It was a lovely balance of sweet and salty, crunchy and smooth. The Malamado Viognier paired well, though it was a bit strange to have a dessert wine sweeter than the actual postre.

It was definitely an aggressive(ly good) way to start the week. In fact, I think my liver is just starting to recover from the level of insanity I put it through during that dinner and beyond.

One thing is certain: No matter where he rests his knives, Hernán Gipponi is one fine chef. One can only hope that these pop-up menus will become more of a regular happening until HG hunkers down behind some burners of his own.

Gran Bar Danzón
Libertad 1161 – Primer Piso, Recoleta
Monday-Friday from 7pm; Saturday-Sunday from 8pm
4811-1108

#MAPA14: Start Your Aperitivo Engines

#MAPA14 Convocatoria

Springtime in Buenos Aires: the days are getting longer, the temperatures are warming up, and it’s time for this year’s edition of #MAPA. The Movimiento Aperitivo Argentino is gearing up for another season of competition in search of the greatest new cocktail and this year, anyone can participate.

From now until December 1, aspiring mixologists can enter the running by teaming up with one of the ten ambassadors (last year’s #MAPA finalists) and developing their own aperitivo cocktail, pairing it with one of the nine dishes inspired by the Ruta del MAPA, and tying it into a creative story that weaves everything together.

Earlier this year, the MAPA battalion traveled around Argentina and hosted workshops with Martín Auzmendi – official MAPA ambassador and cocktail king – as well as the country’s top chefs and bartenders (think Antonio Soriano, Hernán Gipponi, Gonzalo Aramburu…). Along the way, these chefs were assigned with the task of inventing dishes inspired by one of the cities, using local ingredients and flavors. Participants in #MAPA14 must choose one of those dishes (based on whatever criteria they wish, be it one of the key ingredients, the chef that created it, or any kind of general good vibe).

Participants will enter one of two categories – Experts or Aficionados – and five finalists will be chosen from each. The jury – Guillermo Blumenkamp (bartender/owner of Doppelgänger), Luciano Banchero (journalist and aperitivo lover), and Pamelo Villar (chef/owner at Yeite) – will choose the winner based on the cocktail itself, the story that accompanies it, and the overall creativity and presentation. The prize at stake? A magical mystery tour across Italy with Martín Auzmendi to eat and drink their way along the original ruta del aperitivo.

MAPA’s mission is to bring together the magic of the aperitivo in all its glory against the backdrop of classic storytelling, the buena mesa and all that this entails. As we all know, nothing tops the simple pleasure of getting together with friends and family to enjoy a cold Aperol Spritz, Negroni, or Cynar Julep, watching the sun go down and just taking a moment to soak it all up.

For more information visit the MAPA website, Twitter, and Instagram.

#MAPA14 - Santa Fe #MAPA14 - Mendoza

Astor’s 1st Birthday Celebration

Astor Bistro Buenos Aires

Astor Bistro has gotten nothing but good press since its opening last year. Luckily, these accolades haven’t gone to its head as the restaurant continues to serve beautiful food in a friendly space tucked away from the noise and circus that is Palermo.

A couple of weeks ago, the Comando Gourmand was lucky enough to visit Astor for a little birthday celebration. After all, what better way to ring in a year of success with great food, lots of wine, and an amazing group of people? We kicked things off with an aperitivo at the hand of Pablo, Astor’s skilled sommelier and charismatic host, before sitting down to a complete tasting menu at the hand of chef Antonio Soriano.

To start, the Comando dove into smoked venison with a poached egg, velvety pumpkin soup with a touch of pimetón, the most delicious trout I’ve ever tasted with pickled and pureed beets with goat cheese. We continued on with a white riverfish (Rubí?) over fennel puree with bok choy, Brussels sprouts, peas and a touch of wasabi – definitely one of the favorites of the night. This was followed by ojo de bife, corn, cherry tomatoes, red onion, and ‘shrooms, and topped off with wild boar, lentils and peppers.

After a brief interlude (mostly marked by exclamations of “I am so full I might explode, but this is so good I can’t stop eating”), it was time for dessert. First, one of the greatest combinations of all time: banana, chocolate, and dulce de leche. Suddenly I’m a kid again and my taste buds are overjoyed. Next, a cold strawberry mousse served with fresh fruit to cleanse the palate and trick you into thinking that you didn’t just stuff yourself silly. Perfection.

Despite the gluttony, there was a final surprise in store. Though we’re usually the ones being wined and dined, the Comando decided to show some love for the Astor team with a homemade chocotorta (courtesy of yours truly). Since it’s physically impossible for me to be understated when it comes to celebration, a candle that shot out sparks and a glittery sign that said “Feliz Cumple” were included for dramatic flair. We gathered around together and sang Happy Birthday to Astor, with wishes for many more years of full bellies and happy hearts.

Feliz Cumple Astor

It was a great night, perfect from start to finish. There’s nothing better celebrating the success of friends, especially when that celebration includes a feast fit for kings. Gracias, Astor!

El Comando at Astor BistroAstor Bistro
Ciudad de la Paz 353 – Belgrano
Monday-Friday 8pm-12:30am
4554-0802