The primary reason for our trip to Argentina was to visit the Mendoza wine country. After researching the many places that we could stay we discovered the highly rated Casa Glebinias. In addition to its beautiful casita architecture and landscaping the family-run hotel was known for arranging tours for its guests, including in the vineyards.
As we walked out of our curated and hand-crafted casita to a beautiful New Years Eve afternoon in Chacras de Coria in Mendoza. The Aristarain family’s asador (grill chef) was starting his fire for the asado celebration. As the fire began to catch, the fragrance of the burning wood began to fill the beautiful landscape of Casa Glebinias as we basked in the warmth of the southern hemisphere summer. The pool was the perfect spot for viewing the diligent and practiced efforts of the asador as he began preparations for our New Year’s Eve celebration in this beautiful setting.
The legendary Argentine asado (cookout) originates from the colonization by the Spanish in the 16th century. Upon the conquistadors’ arrival, the Spanish moved abandoned steer and cows from northern South America to the almost 290,000 square miles of native prairie grasses in Argentina allowing the animals to flourish. The tradition of feeding with natural grasses remains and results in Argentinian beef being some of the leanest and most flavorful in the world. In addition, their grass-based diet results in less illness which eliminates the need for antibiotics and the growth hormones typically found in US beef.
The asado was born from the practical need to eat while the gauchos (cowboys) were moving cattle over long distances. Throughout the years of asados, the gauchos perfected the methods of cutting the meat (based on texture and not typical cuts of meat) and building and maintaining the fire such that the meat is allowed to slowly cook to perfection.
The Aristarain’s asador built three fires, one for the wood burning oven for the the empanada appetizers, one for the grill for vegetables and thinly sliced meat, and one for the horizontal roasting rack for the whole side of ribs. Each fire was uniquely built for its specific purpose. During his preparations we began to hear the sounds of tables being set up under the tall trees and dishes and glassware being carefully placed for the Aristarain’s guests and family.
Around 8:30PM the guests began to assemble, we were offered our choice of three different types of empanadas, all made from scratch and cooked in the wood burning oven, along with a glass of champagne. The crisp outer pastry held delicious cheese, vegetable, and meat fillings. As the asador announced that his eight course asado was ready for service, the staff began pouring perfectly paired Malbecs from the surrounding vineyards. The meat courses were served with a homemade Chimichurri sauce as well as grilled vegetables, salad, and potatoes.
Over dinner the Aristarain family regaled us with stories of their incredible careers, the purchase of the land (with not a single tree on it) that became the setting for Casa Glebinaias, their family, and Mendoza as exploding fireworks echoed all around us and into the new year.
Check out these tips for creating your own asado. Happy New Year!
Mary Beth I have a passion for creating and experiencing unforgettable moments and sharing those with others. I hope that this story has helped you experience one of those moments.