04 Mar Fogon Asado Experience, Buenos Aires
Fogon Asado Experience, Buenos Aires
Argentinean Cuisine at its Best
Fiona Black – South America Travel Centre
“It is over there” my driver gestures towards a pale grey wall as I step out of the car. I am in the suburb of Palermo in Buenos Aires – often described as the melting pot for culture and coolness as well as a popular destination for foodies. In the direction my driver is pointing I see a small sign displaying the word Fogon (meaning stove in Spanish), this is the only indication that anything lays beyond the threshold.
Hidden behind the discreet metal door lies the quaint, yet modern and stylish restaurant oozing with cool. Exposed brick walls, subtle lighting, polished floorboards and hard wood bench tops surround a small group of chefs diligently preparing ingredients around an open fire oven in the centre of the room. The set up reminds me of a Japanese teppanyaki restaurant where you sit around the chef, watching whilst they cook.
Alex, the owner, welcomes me with a warm smile as I tentatively enter. He sees my uncertainty, unsure I am at the right place, and announces, “Welcome to Fogon Asado Experience, would you like a cocktail? This particular recipe is called The Bright Side which is an Argentinean cocktail (of course) made with Gin and Torrontes (an aromatic Argentinean white wine)”
Relieved I have found the correct restaurant, I happily accept the drink and take a sip; I am impressed. It is sweet yet refreshing. Very summery and as the weather is warm I know this drink would be a popular accompaniment at any barbeque.
Whilst I take it all in Alex explains about how Fogon came to be. He is one of the founders of the Argentine Experience – a cooking experience designed to completely immerse guests into an Argentinian kitchen where they cook a meal with an Argentinean chef – and wanted to create a gourmet Argentinean dining experience for guests who want to learn about the traditional dishes they are served and see how their meal is prepared but don’t necessarily want to cook it themselves. At Fogon Asado Experience meals are created on the fire in the middle of the room in front of guests, by the highly trained chefs who explain the techniques along the way. As only 24 guests can dine at Fogon at a time it is an intimate experience and you soon find yourself chatting with the other guests sitting alongside you.
Alex then introduced me to his partner Danielle who ushers me to a suitable seat and gets me started creating my own chimichurri – a condiment made from a collection of herbs and spices, traditionally served with meat dishes. The ingredients are all in little jars on the bar ready to use and the recipe is yours to keep. Danielle offers me another of the delicious welcome cocktails. How could I say no?
Ingredients for Chimichurri
As soon as my concoction is complete, first course is served. The classic Argentinean empanada. Alex and Danielle take the time to serve the dish to every guest and explain that the Empanada is cooked over open embers and served with citrus chutney. A glass of wine is poured for those who have chosen the wine pairing option. This has to be the best empanada I have had all trip, it is light and rich in flavour without any of the oily residue some can have. My hopes are high for the rest of the meal.
Empanada with citrus chutney
Second course is served soon after which is called Matrimonio (marriage). As the name suggests it combines two strong elements – black pudding and chorizo. These two proud ingredients are served on freshly baked bread with quince chutney and fire-roasted pepper. The combination is exquisite. The chorizo is full of flavour and the fresh bread is so fluffy you will forever more turn your nose up at the humble sausage in bread that is served at the local Bunnings at home. The black pudding oozes flavour with so many spices and the subtle chutney accompanies the dish well.
Matrimonio – black pudding and chorizo. Image credit: Fogon
Next up is a caramelised cheese with roasted ratatouille; followed by glazed pork belly that is so tender you can cut it with a folk. Then Matambre de Cerdo (pork cut unique to Argentina) – this is pork flank steak which absorbs smokey flavours when cooked over coals, a lime and cilantro salad, as well as a special dish prepared by the chef from ingredients they had found at the market. Today it is molleja (sweetbreads) served with a citrus sauce.
With each dish a new wine is served. By the fourth course I realise I have multiple glasses of wine lined up in front of me, begging for a taste.
Caramelised cheese with roasted ratatouille
Matambre de Cerdo (pork flank steak cooked over coals)
Sweetbreads. Image credit: Fogon
Before the main cuts of beef are served, I am asked to choose a knife from a selection with beautifully carved wooden handles. I pick a companion for the evening and slice into the tender steak cooked to perfection. Combined with my Chimichurri creation, fire roasted vegetables and a glass of local Malbec I felt like the meal could not get any better, but it did.
A selection of knives to choose from
Various cuts of beef served with roast vegetables
For the grand finale, I was served crepes pan fried on the open fire with dulce de leche and raspberry puree with fresh raspberries and cream on the side. As the dish was presented the chef used a hot iron to lightly burn the sugar sprinkled on top of the crepe giving the dish a sensational burnt caramel flavour – as well as adding to the theatre of the event. I am not usually a dessert person but this evening I made an exception. This was by far the best pancake I had ever had. Although the ingredients were simple it was the perfect conclusion to what had been an exceptional meal shared with wonderful people.
Crepes with dulce de leche, raspberry puree, raspberries and fresh cream
Alex and Danielle with the Fogon Asado Experience Chefs
Fogon Asado Experience Menu:
“The Bright Side” with Argentine gin and Torrontes
Argentinian empanada cooked over open embers with citrus chutney.
Known as Matrimonio meaning Marriage
Black pudding | Quince chutney | Baked bread | Chorizo | Fire-roasted pepper | Baked bread
Caramelized provoleta cheese | Roasted Ratatouille to the flame
Glazed pork belly (Matambrito) | Yellow chili sauce | Lime and cilantro salad
The chef creates a special dish depending on what they discover at the local market on the day
Two cuts of Argentine beef prepared using different traditional cooking techniques
Pancakes with dulce de leche.
Make sure you go to Fogon Asado Experience with an appetite, as you will be spoiled with 7 courses of high quality Argentinean cuisine. To add this experience to your tailor made South America itinerary contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1300 784 794
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