Postcard from Buenos Aires
Writer Gisela Williams reports on a bovine nose-to-tail menu at a cutting-edge restaurant, plus more news from the nueva cocina scene.
On my second evening in Buenos Aires, I ate a cow. Which was far more enjoyable than it sounds, thanks to chef Dante Liporace's brilliant seven-course Secuencia de la Vaca (Procession of the Cow) menu at the new Hub Porteño hotel's tiny Tarquino restaurant. Liporace starts guests off with a dish of brains cooked sous vide and then fried and paired with chimichurri, and he ends with a small, buttery grilled-oxtail sandwich.
Liporace explained that Tarquino is named after the first purebred Shorthorn bull that was imported to the Argentinean pampas in the early 1800s by a British-born rancher. The descendants of that distinguished bull are credited with radically improving the quality of Argentinean beef. Liporace devises exciting new ways of serving the meat, using avant-garde techniques he learned when he trained at Spain's El Bulli.
"It made a huge impact that Argentinean chefs like Dante have been able to stage in Spain rather than France—for the first time, there isn't a language barrier," says Gonzalo Robredo, owner of Hub Porteño. He also cites young Buenos Aires cooks Gonzalo Aramburu of Aramburu Restaurante, Alejandro Digilio of La Vineria de Gualterio Bolivar and Soledad Nardelli of Chila—one of the city's few prominent female chefs.
For hotel guests interested in traditional Argentinean grilled beef, Liporace is happy to oblige: He takes small groups to his favorite parrilla (grilling) restaurant, La Brigada, in the city's bohemian San Telmo neighborhood. Turns out he's a fan of the excellent short ribs.
Gisela Williams is Food & Wine's Europe correspondent.