Asado in Cordoba - Argentina
I drove with a bunch of my best friends from Buenos Aires to Cordoba’s Mountain range to spend a few days at my friend Matias Colombo’s property. It took us about eight hours to get there but I knew we were in for a treat. This story is about the lovely asado that awaited us upon our arrival.
An asado is an essential part of Argentina’s culture; it is not only about eating but it entails everything around it; the preparations, the conversations, the camaraderie, the aperitif, the fire and of course the wine and the languid hours that you can spend eating one.
Brilliantly our host Matias had one of his paisanos already waiting for us with the fire going; about forty five minutes before arriving he picked up the phone and gave him the green light to put the meat down on the grill.
Our last stretch driving up a dirt road within these magnificent mountains led us to his property, a sort of village in itself with many different houses and a large green space the size of a city plaza in the middle; the kind of clean cut grass we would eventually lie down for a nap after the asado.
As we got there Don Antonio Cuello our asador sure enough had the meat on the grill and a massive wooden table set up under a huge tree.
Traditionally you can’t start an asado without a vermouth or an aperitif first, in this case we had a first round of a Cordoba classic: Un Fernando o Fernet y coca. Not even Italians know why Argentineans consume so much Fernet Branca but we do: Ice, Fernet Branca and Coca cola.
As we admired the beautiful cuts of meat on the grill we sat down and started enjoying our asado as it should. First the chorizos, Argentinean pork sausages; salchicha parrillera, similar to chorizos but just one long link of it slightly thinner and morcillas, blood sausage.
Then came the mollejas; nicely toasted sweetbreads served with lemon and then came the meats of course; vacio, a think chunk of meat served rare to medium rare and tira de asado; short ribs cut lengthwise about two inches thick ususally cooked all the way through but still juicy and fatty as well. Crispy grilled chicken dosed with lemon and our typical Argentinean staple sauce: chimichurri; olive oil, vinegar, parsley, garlic aji molido and pimenton.
Our asador didn’t work by itself, his sidekick was Tristan a fantastic cook that delighted us with typical no-fuss accompaniments for an asado; Ensalada Rusa, potato salad with green peas, carrots and mayonnaise; ensalada mixta, green salad with tomatoes and onions and of course Malbec; plenty of Malbec.
For dessert, the classic fresco y batata, slices of a creamy cow milk's cheese similar to Reblochon and dulce de batata which is a sweet potato paste, similar in consistency to quince or guava paste, but much sweeter and light brown in color.
After lots of food, bottles of Malbec and plenty of laughs, I ducked away from the table without anyone noticing and collapsed in the glorious grassy green for my afternoon nap, thinking of the fun and good food awaiting us for the next few days, listening to the birds, the wind and the perpetual sound of the river nearby.