Tours and Activities:
More than Northern CuisineKarina Jozami y Pablo EtcheversPablo Etchevers
Gastronomy in Salta has always had its own stamp, headed by its regional dishes that combine ancient Creole and Indian recipes. But the city, which grows at the same pace as tourism and swarms with foreign visitors in the evenings, obliges to think of other alternatives. A good choice for the young and talented chefs that dare to break with the strong stamp of the typical cuisine in order to give restaurants in Salta their international touch.
We went about some of the places that re-invent the classic Northern flavors and we present various proposals born from diversity.
Since its inauguration, Francisco Serrao and Dario Janin have been the gastronomical figures in charge of the cuisine at this majestic international hotel called Alejandro I. A responsability they have succeeded in ornamenting every night by means of their creations and their inexhaustible search for a different taste and chemistry to share. Just talking with them for a few minutes lets us understand the purpose of such a noble menu which is renovated every month so that its customers' palates do not get used to any flavor in particular.
“When we talk about cuisine, we mean culture and education. Cuisine is a combination of flavors that search to awaken sensations and enable customers to experiment a new taste and flavor” they explain at the same time they tell us that this is the idea they wish to materialize in each dish they prepare.
As a starter, an octopus pudding in saffron foam and sugar-coated leek. As a main course, venison tenderloin in chenín with season citrics. And for dessert, a crispy chocolate tower. All this, accompanied with excellent wines, not only from Salta but also from the most exclusive nooks in the world. This is the ideal proposal made by Alejandro I: make its exclusive guests feel that they are in any international hotel in the world, even from the point of view of its gastronomy. This is perfectly managed and deserves a loud applause.
Lalo Angelina (33) was expecting us on the corner that the José Balcarce has occupied for the last three years. The bare walls tell the story of this house, which is 120 years old, literally re-built by the architect, and create an intimate and relaxed atmosphere.
Defined as a “high-country cuisine” restaurant, Lalo explains that the concept of “regional cuisine” is more Spanish and that the José Balcarce proposal is to rescue the Pre-columbian gastronomy. He is in charge of researching, rescuing Andean dishes that survived the conquest and look for their ingredients. This way, the amaranth, the quinoa, the llama and the api (purple wheat) return to the Northern menu, re-valued by its flavors and nutrients. Lalo is in charge of traveling and contacting the suppliers, mainly in the area of Tilcara and Humahuaca.
Sebastián Sanchéz and José López, one from Jujuy and the other one from Salta, are in charge of the kitchen and complete the team. They all surprise customers with a carefully studied menu that is renovated every month and a half.
We chose carpaccio de llama, with green sprouts, Parmesan cheese and capers as an appetizer. Against prejudice, the meat of this typical local camelidae is tender, soft and quite lean. We accepted Lalo’s suggestion and tasted the llama tenderloin in qolla iawa with Andean potatoes and crunchy quinoa, a delicious culinary invention that combines very well with a rosè syrah.
We also let ourselves be tempted by the grilled trout and “tres locos ravioles líquidos” (with cedron, ginger and laurel sauce) accompanied with fresh broad beans and asparagus.
For dessert, I chose the api foam with cocoa brittle whereas Eliseo preferred a chocolate coulant with ice-cream and orange segments – “the dessert that makes people happy”, according to Lalo.
After dinner, we understood what the concept of high-country cuisine meant a little better, perfectly recreated by the José Balcarce.
Authentic steak house in Salta, specialized in barbecues and regional dishes 4 years ago.
After the classic empanadas from Salta, we tried the entrecôte Charrúa with scrambled Spanish potatoes on the side. Argentinian Meat with a capital M, after eating this dish you may feel so satisfied that there will be no room for dessert. However, we tried the quesillo con cuaresmillo, a small peach harvested during Lent. Delicious.
Apart from the Salta winemakers, there are also good wines from Mendoza that go very well with grilled meat.
Excellent assistance and a warm atmosphere, El Charrúa is a good referent in Salta for barbecue lovers.