Argentina -food, wine, dance and music

From a country with a huge joy de vivre, Brazil, I found myself dealing with various forms of, well, el muerte in Argentina. One of my first stopping points on the Buenos Aires tourist trail was La Catedral which houses the tomb of that other great liberator of South America, San Martin, who freed Argentina, Chile and, with Bolivar, Peru from colonial rule. Then, on the same day, I find myself in Plaza de Mayo where the (diminishing numbers of) mothers of missing people during the military rule in the 70s (el madre de mayo) still march every Thursday demanding to know what happened to their children – 40 years ago. There was a tear jerking moment when they arrived in a white van to loud affectionate cheers from a small crowd of a few hundred people.

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And then the following day I find myself at the Cementario de la Ricoleta which houses tombstones and graves of some of Argentina’s richest and most famous, not least Eva Peron. There are many people living (pun intended) in rooms smaller than some of the tombstones here.

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But on a less morbid note, the tango scene is magical, tense, dramatic, and universal.

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It comes in various forms, from street side tango dancing to old classics …

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… to electronic tango such as the Gotan Project, here they are on YouTube…

Who said it takes two to tango – it could take three…

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Tango in Buenos Aires ranges from free shows on the street relying on cap donations, to several hundred dollar live shows with candle lit dinners – it is the living and breathing part of the city …

But there is much more to contemporary Argentinian music than tango. The afro influence is very much there in this band of appropriately called percussionists, La Bomba Tiempo (The Time Bomb), who perform regularly each week every Monday, and in Argentinian electronic cumbia, with some excellent live gigs, including El Remelón, who I was lucky enough to see. The only problem I had with the gigs were that they start not much earlier than 2 or 3 in the morning, timings which are at odds with my northern European sense of bedtime …

But if you have the stamina, it is well worth adding to any Buenos Aires itinerary. More samples of electronic cumbia can be found on the Spotify playlist of The London Jukebox in South America …

A trip to La Boca was an architectural feast…

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… though something of a tourist trap, but another must in Buenos Aires …

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Of equal architectural beauty were both Casa El Zanjon in San Telmo and Casa Rosada, the presidential palace, with a special place in history as the place where Juan Peron, with Eva Peron by his side, made that historic speech on the balcony.

El Zanjon

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Casa Rosada

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Having satiated our appetite for the urban culture, we headed down to Mendoza for a gastronomic and oenological few days in the eastern foothills of the Andean mountains. Mendoza itself is a charming little town, with Andalusian squares and fountains.

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Olive groves, vast as-far-as-the-eye-can-see vistas of vines, bordered by the distant Andean mountain range, this is a beautiful part of the country. Olive oil tastings, bodega visits with wine tastings, gourmet dining, paired menus are the order of the day.

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Bodegas range from small boutique to large scale exporters. We narrowed the list of potentials to those that had distribution in the UK and US, the rationale being that we could source the wines we like when we get back home. We were certainly not disappointed.

mendoza-wines-1I was very much looking forward to visiting Catena Zapata, a favourite bodega for a top end Malbec, and one aim of the Mendoza trip was to find a comparable wine for variety. I not only found exactly such a wine but was surprised to put a Malbec-Cabernet Sauvignon blend in the same league – the Atemporal from Alta Vista was excellent. From the same bodega but different region (north – Salta) – an excellent white was from the Torrontes grape, the Alta Vista Premium Estate  – cases for both on their way home!

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A day trip to the Andean foothills to take in the scenery, parallel to a stunning river, natural escarpment, and a disused railway between Argentina and Chile….

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After this gastronomic visit to Mendoza, I headed across the Andes – a stunning road journey taking in the highest peak in the Andes, Mount Aconcagua, and stunning mountain passes. Next and final stop before heading homeward bound – Santiago de Chile.

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One thought on “Argentina -food, wine, dance and music

  1. Another great snapshot of a country and its music. I’m going to have to checkout the Spotify playlists.
    Thanks for the effort of recording all this

    Like

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