Buenos Aires – Note: a couple of people e-mailed me to ask for larger pictures… so I’ve upped their size a little bit.
It was a stunningly glorious day – high 60s, not a cloud in the sky, a light breeze, just one of those perfect times to be out wandering around. I made it to the gym, had my Spanish class, and then Henry announced he was going to show me how I should have cooked my olluquitos. So he whipped up a stew of julienned olluqitos, a little diced beef, tomato, red bell pepper, garlic and onion. It was quite good, but I like my fried ones better!
Wandered off for a walk through the neighborhood and over into the Once area. I was randomly looking for antique Argentine cookbooks, but didn’t find anything interesting. Out of the blue, I found a cookware and spice shop… and… drum roll… I found marjoram! I know you’ve all been holding your breath awaiting this find, ever since I setout on the mission. You can now take deep breaths and relax. This shop, Doña Clara at Corrientes 2561, has tons of great, inexpensive utensils, molds, pans, and other cooking equipment. It also has probably more than 100 different spices and herbs available.
Henry had told me he wanted liver for dinner. Nobody’s ever just come out and announced that to me before. I love liver, so this wasn’t an issue. All I can say is, I’m good…
1 pound of beef liver sliced relatively thin (less than ½”)
1 cup plain bread crumbs
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground white pepper
½ teaspoon marjoram (you knew I’d use it)
½ teaspoon chopped lemon peel
½ teaspoon ground mace (the spice, not the spray)
1 cup buttermilk
¼ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
Clean the liver and soak the slices in the buttermilk for at least 2 hours. If you can’t find buttermilk (impossible here), use a mix of 1 cup of whole milk and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Mix the dry ingredients together and bread the liver (I went for the shake-and-bake method, dumped it all in a bag, added the liver slices, and shook). Saute in a mixture of the olive oil and butter until browned and cooked at least medium. I served this with a side of mushrooms sautéed in butter, olive oil, garlic and onion. Serves 2.
Opened up a bottle of Quara Tannat 2002 from the Cafayate region of Argentina. Tannat is the grape of Madiran, a region in southwest France noted for producing wines that are impenetrable until they’re 7-10 years old. It has also become the mainstay grape of Uruguayan reds where it takes on a somewhat lighter and more approachable characteristic. It’s still a big, rich wine, and I thought this might be a great choice. Besides, I’d never seen an Argentine Tannat before (and couldn’t find any information about Quara winery (the quara is a type of llama), though I gather from what I could find that export is a prime goal – the front label is in English. Aromas and flavors of clove and black plums dominated this selection, and I have to say, it went great with the liver!
Tannat was first introduced to Uruguay in 1870 by Basque immigrants. It quickly became the “national grape,” with production eventually surpassing all other countries including France, where it was born. The dominant variety in Uruguay – it is to Uruguay what Malbec is to Argentina, producing very colorful and powerful wines, with soft but obvious tannins which allow them to keep for a long time.