We Recommend: A Rural Expedition to an “Estancia”

(Photo by ChrisGoldNY)

With the arrival of spring and sunny days to come the span of activities broadens in the outskirts of the city where short trips to the countryside make for a great way to experience what the local culture is all about.  As your are probably very well aware of, one of the focal points of Argentine tradition is the countryside, home of gauchos and many an unfortunate cow.  The estancias are rural estates that not only carry out typical rural activities but also have a rich history depicting the settlement patterns and land disputes of this young country.

Horseback riding, polo, fishing, and Fiesta Gaucha (including folkloric dances and races) are all offered as part of the Estancia experience.

Some places to check out are:

La Candelaria Estancia & Polo Club

A top-notch estancia offering everything from gaucho shows to parachuting and massages in a gorgeous French style chateau surrounded by fragrant nature.

Estancia Santa Susana

This typical estancia outside the city regularly celebrates a Fiesta Gaucha with traditional meals and activities. This is a great day trip option in which transport to and from the Estancia is included.

Estancia La Horqueta

Built on the shore of a lagoon and surrounded by trees this natural haven offers canoes, bird watching, and horseback riding. Plant lovers will get a chance to walk around the estate with Enrique Pierri, an expert on the surrounding vegetation.

More options here.

How to Make a Typical Argentine Asado

Making a good asado is an art that any proud Argentine man must master (although there are women that make great asado too!).  For this task, two elements are key, one, is the technique used for lighting the fire and the elements that will go in it (coal, wood chips…), and secondly is the knowledge of the different meat cuts and the different cooking points. Obviously, a tradition that is practiced and transmitted from generation to generation involves many different techniques which can’t all be mastered overnight, but you´ve got to start somewhere, so here it goes!

1- Clean the surface on which you will cook the meat.

2-Make 5-6 paper balls by crumpling newspaper.

3-Make a small wooden ‘building’  or jenga like structure around the paper balls using a discarded vegetable box or pieces of light wood. Make sure to leave enough space between the pieces of wood so that some air can pass through and enough open room on top so that you can later light the paper balls.

4-Put a circular pile of coal around the wood. (In the video, the coals were placed directly under the grill and under twigs so the fire spread and caught on.)

5-Light the paper balls making sure to watch if the twigs are lighting up.

6- Wait for the coal to catch and once the fire is out move some of the hot embers below the grill.

7- Start placing the meat, chorizos and other ‘achuras’ you may have decided to try (for a translation of meat cuts go here.)

8-Supervise the bottom of the meats and turn them around when they are toasty until the other side is toasty too. Add burning coal where you feel necessary, but keep in mind, asado is slow cooking method. Also keep in mind that some cuts and achuras cook faster than others. (Chorizos for example usually come out of the grill first).

9-Enjoy!