There’s nothing like the a big Patagonian smile and a gorgeous mushroom soup to warm you up after two hours of hanging out in various queues so thank you China Muller from Bariloche’s Cassis restaurant for exactly that.
Cassis is one of almost 40 food stands at Fería Masticar 2017; in fact, along with friend and fellow chef Patricia Courtois, China and team are based out of a food truck. She and her children picked mushrooms growing next to the Manso River near their home (it’s been a stellar year for fungi friends, she says) before bringing them to Buenos Aires’ biggest food festival for me and you. A magical mushroom story indeed. Creamy, thick and nourishing, her soup was the perfect queue antidote. 60 pesos.
The next pick-me-up needed to serve a different purpose – hair of the dog. Wednesday’s dinner at Tegui involved two of Argentina’s most incredible wines – White Bones 2009 by Catena Zapata and Viña Cobos’ Bramare Rebon Vineyard Malbec 2010 – so Ludo De Biaggi’s Amargo Obrero and raspberry El Guapo cocktail was most welcome. BASA’s star head bartender heads to Berlin next week to compete in the Bacardi Legacy 2017 contest so catch his meticulous mixology skills at the Gancia Truck and wish him well.
One new face at Masticar is San Isidro’s Alo’s. I love Ale Feraud’s work so praise be to your deity of choice that we’ve finally managed to lure him within the city limits. You can find this bistro in the Brasas (embers) section, where he’s whipping up bacon topped with his own kimchi. Great combo where crunch meets tender pork. 100 pesos.
Big fine-dining names are naturally on board at Masticar 2017, including Tegui, El Baqueano and Elena among others. The Zapallo Tegui is a delectable grilled squash topped with sweetcorn, spicy yellow ají and sea salt, again, an array of textures coming together and the perfect opportunity to get a bite-size idea of what the world’s 49th best restaurant does in the kitchen.
Meanwhile, San Telmo’s El Baqueano simplifies its usually complex menu with a Neapolitan milanesa sandwich that switches up beef – for llama. Chef Fernando Rivarola has always cooked with ‘curious’ meats and putting a twist on Argentina’s favourite meal (after barbecue, of course) is a smart move. 100 pesos.
Other bites on my eat list that didn’t make the deadline included La Mar’s Cebiche a la brasa (like, what does that even mean?), 1884’s pizza a la parrilla topped with pear, black pudding and patagonzola cheese and PuraTierra’s alligator arepa. Actually, I had a bite of someone else’s gator and it was exquisite. I also want Julep’s celery and lime juice GnT.
Other tips: wrap up warm (or up your alcohol intake). Take a brolly because it will likely rain at some point. Don’t drive there; parking will be impossible and I can hear angry honking from home three blocks away. Prepare to queue. Snap up a curious ingredient at the market and support small producers who have come from 20 provinces. I got me a papaya from Juani at Jujuy’s Bioconexión, who’s also producing some incredible salt. But enjoy our beloved Buenos Aires at its foodie finest. It is, after all, 2017’s Ibero-American capital of Gastronomic Culture for a reason.
Admission: 100 pesos, Zapiola and Matienzo
Thursday May 11 until Sunday May 14, midday to 11pm
Vouchers: 250 peso booklets
Dishes: 60, 80, 100 pesos