Asado in Buenos Aires – a truly authentic experience
Originally published on the Backpacking Bailarinas blog
When thinking about Argentinian cuisine, the first thing that comes to mind is steak, steak, and more steak. On the first night of our trip, we sampled just that, at a place called Calden Del Soho in Buenos Aires, which was utterly amazing. I’ve also discovered that the reason I never drink red wine is simply because I can’t afford the good stuff in the UK… here, I adore it!
We’ve been lucky enough to stay with a good friend on our first leg of this trip, and on our final day in Buenos Aires, she invited us to her family’s home in Olivos, a suburb of Buenos Aires, for an asado. She described it as a traditional barbecue, and so we were immediately enthused. We later read a bit in our guidebook which stated ‘if you’re lucky enough to be invited to an asado, say yes without hesitation.’ We are lucky indeed!
We felt we’d already seen a lot of the city over the last 4 days, having walked our legs off on a tour as well as dancing reggaeton, hip hop, and tango, so we were happy to have a quiet day before getting on our 18-hour bus to the Iguazu waterfalls. It was a stunning day, ‘the first day of summer’, my friend told me. If this is the first day, how will the rest of summer be?! There was not a cloud in the sky, and we basked in a glorious 28 degrees.
We smelled the meat cooking as soon as we entered the garden, and there was a whole lot of salad, fresh bread, and other goodies on the table. The atmosphere was relaxed and familial, and although we only knew one person at the table, we instantly felt part of the family, and were made to feel incredibly welcome. We sipped on some rosé wine (again, it was so delicious… what garbage have I been drinking in Europe?!), and then the meat started arriving.
My friend’s father introduced himself as ‘the cooker’ and he certainly delivered! One by one, he brought us various cuts of meat, and then sliced them up into portions. We started off with chorizo, which was less spicy than the Spanish version, but more juicy and flavoursome. After this, there were at least five other cuts of pork and beef that I couldn’t identify, but another friend said we shouldn’t question it, and just enjoy it. This was definitely good advice for the sweetbreads, as Anna did not want to know what it was!
We ended with a dessert, which was called Escocés (Scotland), but could not have been less familiar, as it had a hidden pocket of dulce de leche in the middle. Despite our bursting bellies, we simply couldn’t resist… let’s just say we felt well stocked for our bus journey that evening.
What I loved about the asado was how it brings together friends and family on a beautiful day, and is a way to simply to enjoy people’s company whilst also munching on fantastic meat. And although we had a bit of champagne at the end of the meal, there was little alcohol otherwise, which is very different from a British BBQ (although the weather was likely the biggest difference!). My friend, who lived in the UK for 5 years, told us it was one of the things she missed most about home, and I can completely understand that. I miss it already!
So for us, the perfect afternoon in Buenos Aires was not the walking tour, nor the botanical gardens, nor the Evita museum. It was an authentic Argentinian experience, el asadito. May there be many more!