Extravagant lunches at wineries are a big thing in Mendoza. Almost every bodega, large or small, offers some type of megalunch or wine-related activity to keep tourists in their space for hours on end. Yoga in the vines? Tango in the vines? Picnic in the vines?! Cooking classes! Horseback riding! Classic car tour! Hot air balloons! You want it, they got it.
I was getting a little burnt out just *planning* the trip.
One of the challenges to planning a trip outside of a majour city is that tour books aren’t prolifically written about it. For better or worse, you know? The double edge sword was that, while we were excited to get off the beaten path a bit, it did make it a bit harder to plan from afar.
Thanks to a collection of travel bloggers I found La Azul, a well-reviewed small winery that does an al fresco lunch. Wanting a diversion from the super-huge-schmancy-wineries that are so common in the area, I latched on to it.
And oh, I’m so glad we did.
La Azul was staffed by three people: the chef/winemaker, the owner, and the server/owner’s childhood bff. The food was the style you’d imagine argentine grandmothers to make: comfortable and not fussy.
We did a 4-course tasting menu and had a bottle of their grand reserve. The grand reserve, btw, was a *splurge* $30.
Ready for some food pictures? You miss those, don’t you?
You start with an Argentine salad called “escabeche” – it tasted a bit like chicken salad, but we later had the same style with eggplant and it was completely different. After talking to the chef about how he made it, I think I could make this at home! (Maybe one more argentine dinner party?)
I’m wracking my brain to recall what this was. No luck. Pretty though, eh?
Next up was… you guessed it, an omelette. Argentines don’t often eat eggs for breakfast, but apparently they still make a cameo on the table.
The odd thing about these empanadas is that they were fried and not cooked in a wood-fire oven. Slightly oilier, but the dough turned into a flakey pastry. I loved how they served them on 5″ tiles – reminded me of something Heather would do.
After that, I had a pork chop on the best sweet potatoes in the world, and jon had a ribeye. I’m not sure if they do it on purpose, but the plating of their food looks really good against all of the blues that they have decorating their space.
By dessert, I felt like rolling off of my chair and eating a nearby cactus. So full!
Somehow we managed to put down a good chunk of the cheesecake and dulce de leche flan, and I won’t tell you how much weight I gained from this trip.
We went to a couple other places that day, but I think La Azul was really the star of Tupungato. Ah-dorable.