We tried…An authentic Argentine dinner with offal and others…Tom, the supertaster…

To us, these stuffed pig intestines, “Chinchulin,” were the least desirable items on the platter.  See description below:

 “Chinchulin / Small Intestines As you’d expect, it looks gross and tastes…well, it’s pretty particular and hard to describe, so you’re just going to have to trust me and try them. They should be well cooked and crunchy but never chewy. That means you got a dud plate. Squeeze abundant amounts of fresh lemon juice on top.

Parrillada in Spanish translates to “barbecue.” When we read online that Las Cabras is an authentic Argentine restaurant, especially popular with locals and known for their taste-tempting platters of meat, we thought we’d give it a try.

Located in the Palermo Hollywood district it was a direction we’d yet to walk except when we headed in that general direction to use an ATM located at a bank where we assumed fees would be less than other locations.  (We discovered this was not the case in Argentina. Using an ATM results in a fee of US $10 (ARS 186) regardless of the amount of local cash received, more than we’ve paid anywhere in the world).

Tom’s smile was as big as usual when I explained what was on the menu.

Earlier in the day, we had no hesitancy to venture out on this longer walk than usual for dinner. Also, there are a number of other restaurants in that area who’s menus we could check as we walked passed.

By late afternoon, it was raining hard but with a borrowed umbrella from the hotel, we decided to head out anyway. We never hesitate to walk in the rain especially when we have access to an umbrella. 

After all, we stood for 90 minutes in the pouring rain in Versailles in August 2014 (see story and photos here) without umbrellas and were soaked through to our underwear. We didn’t care as the rain ran down our faces. No walk to dinner in Palermo to dine would get us that wet. Off we went in the downpour. The experience was exquisite, memorable for a lifetime.

The bread was dry without butter and this little pat was definitely margarine which we don’t eat.

You may ask, “Why not take a taxi?” If a location we’re pursuing is within walking distance, we walk, rain or shine. (The exception to this may be when sightseeing when rain impedes the opportunity to take good photos)  It’s good to get out moving about after a big meal when the long walk back to the hotel would aid in digestion.

Unfortunately, no walk, no distance and no form of exercise could obliterate the heavy feeling in my gut after that meal or, for Tom…the taste in his mouth. Years ago, with his picky taste buds, I discovered he may be a “supertaster” as described here:

“A supertaster is a person who experiences the sense of taste with far greater intensity than average, with some studies showing an increased sensitivity to bitter tastes. It may be a cause of selective eating, but selective eaters are not necessarily supertasters, and vice versa. 

For additional details about supertasters, please click here.”

In most restaurants in Buenos Aires bottles of olive oil and balsamic vinegar are served at tables. Balsamic vinegar has a high carb count of 17 grams per 100 gram due to high sugar content and may contain wheat. Many olive oils used in mid-range (or less) restaurants aren’t pure, containing toxic canola and other vegetable oils we try to avoid.

Even in the rain, we enjoyed walking through the unfamiliar neighborhood of Palermo Hollywood, lined with apartment and office buildings and shops and restaurants although it was not quite as diverse and exciting as Serrano Plaza in Soho where we’ve dined most nights.

We easily found the restaurant only requiring a few turns, located several blocks from the Prodeo Hotel. I took a few photos along the way but found it difficult, preferring not to get the camera wet when the wind blew the rain.

At first, when this huge platter arrived, we anticipated it would be divine.  Once we left off the offal, there were only a few items we cared to eat. I took a taste of almost everything but I didn’t care for most of it.

Luckily, we arrived at an early enough hour there was no line. We’d read that at prime times, there can be a long queue to get inside the restaurant. Surprisingly, the restaurant was packed. The greeter suggested a table for two by the door, but we spotted one enmeshed within the other tightly packed rickety tables and chairs. after looking around.  

We seated ourselves at the other location and waited for a server with menus for quite some time. We’d read online that service could be slow so we stayed patient until a server arrived at our table with menus in hand, all of which was in Spanish. Why wouldn’t it be? I don’t recall menus in the US in other languages. We’d instead have waited for a table then take the busy spot by the door.

However, I can now read a menu in Spanish. There may be a few words I don’t know but over these past three weeks of dining out nightly, I made a point of learning more Spanish. I can’t speak fluently but I can use select words to get a message across.

After Tom became queasy after tasting some of the offal, he’d even lost his taste for the fries.

With the server too busy to wait while I got out enough words to ask about my dietary concerns, I threw caution to the wind and we ordered the “big meat” shared dish called “Parrillada” which translates to “barbecue” in English.

Surely, some of the meats wouldn’t be covered in sweet sauces and I’d find something that worked for me. Tom could enjoy the rest…so I thought. Silly me.

This time we ordered bottled water instead of beer and wine. Based on the huge platter of food we were anticipating, I didn’t order salad or vegetables. Much to our disappointment, shortly before our Parrillada arrived, the servers put huge wooden platters in front of each of us. I asked for “platos” for us instead of the wooden boards but she explained they don’t have “platos.”

The restaurant, Las Cabras, was busy at the early hour of 5:30 pm.

It’s not safe to eat on wooden boards. Often, bacteria get inside the grooves and the boards become a breeding ground for horrific diseases. Oddly, only a few days earlier, I’d read this article on Facebook on the dangers of eating on wooden planks or boards. It may seem fun to eat on these but it’s not worth the risks.

We could have left at that point but we decided to “wing it,” hoping we’d dodge a bullet and be safe eating the meat on their wooden platters. Next time, we’ll notice from online photos, if these boards are used instead of plates and we’ll avoid those restaurants. 

These wooden boards aren’t even safe to use in one’s home even with the utmost in care of the cleaning. A seasoned wooden plank may be fine for cooking the meat or fish at a high temperature but not to be used as a plate. Lesson learned.

The few pieces of beef ribs were fatty and chewy.

The sizzling platter of meats arrived at our table along with bread and fries for Tom. Again, there was no “real” butter and a pat of greasy margarine was served. Here’s another item we don’t eat…margarine…a hydrogenated, trans fat nightmare. We’ve yet to see real butter offered in any restaurant, except perhaps at La Cabrera (not to be confused with today’s Las Cabras).

I sorted through the meat trying to decipher what Tom (supertaster) would like only to discover there were few items on the platter he’d be interested in eating. At least half of the platter consisted of offal. See description below this photo if you aren’t familiar with this term.

Many pigeons walked around the restaurant as we dined. They didn’t bother us so we didn’t mind. We’ve had a variety of birds dining with us in various countries.

“Offal /ˈɒfəl/, also called variety meats, pluck or organ meats, refers to the internal organs and entrails of a butchered animal. The word does not refer to a particular list of edible organs, which varies by culture and region, but includes most internal organs excluding muscle and bone.”

My taste buds aren’t picky and generally, I’ll try anything. After checking the items I determined there were a few items I wouldn’t be able to eat, mainly some of the stuffed intestines which contained oatmeal or wheat as fillers. Tom cringed and nearly gagged when he noticed the offal occupying a good portion of the platter. (See the main photo above).

We saw a number of other dishes served but most weren’t suitable for my way of eating, nor would Tom care for them.

There were more meats on the platter we didn’t care to eat including the following:

Mollejas / Sweetbreads or Thymus Glands Not for the squeamish, mollejas’ unique gusto comes down to them being glands and not muscle tissue. Soft and delicate in texture, resembling pork on the taste buds.”

I’ve ordered sweetbreads in gourmet restaurants to find them moist and delicious in most cases but those on last night’s platter seemed overcooked, dry and chewy. No thanks. I passed on them as well.

I cut the blood sausage in half for this photo. We both tasted it. I could tell it contained some grain, but if it hadn’t, I wouldn’t have cared for it anyway. You should have seen Tom’s face when he took a tiny taste!

“Morcilla / Blood Sausage You’re gonna love ‘em or hate ‘em. Similar to black-pudding in the UK, they are made up of pig’s blood and ground up pieces of pork or offal and a few extra spices to make them taste less like pig’s blood. A much softer sausage than the chorizo.”

So it went. The traditional Argentine Parradilla was not for us. We asked a few of the hotel staff members when we returned from dinner if they cared for the offal and all said an emphatic “no!” Perhaps there were other items on the menu we may have enjoyed more.  

This was the first meal we’ve had in Argentina we found unappealing, and now as we wind down our remaining days, we look forward to returning to some of our favorite restaurants, mainly La Cabrera, Brave, and Diggs (BBQ).

Our total bill including tip was US $45.72 (ARS  850). Tom mentioned, “This was the first time I’ve ordered the most expensive item on a menu and didn’t like it.” So true…

Today’s a big football day.  Right now as I write, Tom is watching yesterday’s two NFL games and tonight after dinner at Rave, we’ll return to the hotel to watch the Minnesota Vikings vs. New Orleans Saints game which starts at 6:40 pm. 

Go Vikings! Happy football day to all of our friends/readers in the USA and other countries!           

Photo from one year ago today, January 14, 2017:

Could this scenery be more beautiful than it was for us during the six-weeks we spent in Penguin, Tasmania? For more photos, please click here.