Cuisine Tips Overlooking Lake Lácar
With Lake Lácar in the background, we watched the preparation of tapas, pinchos and portions “live”, while a group of cuisine connoisseurs tasted exquisite wines grown in Neuquén.
The reddish hue of a summer sunset greeted us as we went up toward the Wine Bar at Paihuén, just 4 kilometers away from San Martín de los Andes. Lake Lácar lies quite below that spot and it seemed as if we were walking on its surface.
These tasting sessions and novel presentations have become usual in this informal and cozy atmosphere, always open for a friendly gathering.
It was with that feeling of pleasure that we were welcomed by the hosts and the main guest: Spanish cook Borja Blázquez. Honoring his origin, he would introduce us to the world of Spanish tapas.
During his first visit to the district, Borja (wearing a spotless white cook suit) introduced himself as he found his place behind the pots, dishes and knives. Juan José Larrondo, from Fin del Mundo Winery, welcomed us with a glass of sparkling wine.
Bubbles with a soft golden shade due to the presence of pinot noir accompanied the pleasant introduction made by Borja about the history, development and relevance of tapas in Spain.
Spanish cook Borja Blázquez
Informal and cozy atmosphere
Explanations, tips or details
Attendants asked questions
Wine Bar at Paihuén
Basically, the taste for good wine accompanied by a small serving of food represents the start of this tasty and energizing Hispanic custom.
Let’s Light the Fire!
Then came the famous phrase “shoulders to the wheel” and the young cook started to unfold his art with delicate snacks we were able to share and enjoy, always combined with different varieties of red and sparkling wine.
Among the attendants, the people in charge of various restaurants and bistrós in town were avid for a close-up with this kind of cooking, as it has become an international classic.Read complete Outing... Mónica Pons / Eduardo Epifanio
Borja spared no explanations, tips or details to manage the best taste, a perfect presentation and the handling of the bite by customers. He dealt with topics such as personal hygiene, the cleaning of kitchen tools and bacteria in food.
Pinchos, brochetas, raciones and cazuelas were the steps in the making of tapas. The two first are individual snacks. The rest is to be shared. He had the particular gesture of offering from 6 to 8 different tapas each of them with a different wine. This added new sensations in the incorporation of gastronomic culture in only one event through a varied proposal.
At most restaurants specialized in tapas, waiters place the food on the bar by the customers, who have the chance to move from one restaurant to another and do not need to stay at the same spot the whole night.
For Discerning Palates
In turn, we tasted the wines grown in Neuquén trying to understand the palate suggested by each varietal, their typical features as part of the gourmet proposal. The line known as ultra premium Fin Single Vineyard was successful in the expected matching.
Borja left the explanations about modern tapas or high miniature cuisine, of which he is a great admirer, for the end of the evening. This consists in the use of design tableware, products and techniques that have never been used to make tapas. It has emerged as an avant-garde, more delicate cuisine which also requires more dedication. It is also a kind of evolution and it offers the chance of tasting those elaborated dishes that may be consumed at élite restaurants (Bulli de Girona or Balzac de Madrid), but in its miniature version.
This represented the perfect finale of a presentation that did not lack written recipes for everyone to take home. Besides, the very complete answers given by Borja when attendants asked questions with his typical good disposition were sealed with amusing ruffles and prizes for those who gave the correct answer about tapas at the end of the class.
Before we left, he asserted: “I love my profession. I have felt enthusiastic about cooking ever since my mother initiated me into it San Sebastián (Spain). When I was 17, I started to work and learn the tips of high cuisine at restaurants such as El Bulli (Girona) and Balzac (Madrid); I am a passionate teacher. Not even on vacation does it occur to me not to cook”.
Let us be alert for the proposals made by the Wine Bar, both in winter and summer! It would be a shame to miss them.
Fin del Mundo Winery
San Patricio del Chañar
Province of Neuquén
Chef Borja Blázquez
Spanish, he lives in Argentina
Shows: TV Gourmet (in Argentina and Colombia)
See more points of interest in San Martín de los Andes