Seven dishes you must try in Buenos Aires, Argentina

 

ALFAJORES

 The national biscuit of Argentina, though some say they originated in Spain. Cornflour is used in the batter, making them very crisp and light. Heavenly dulce de leche (caramel) is sandwiched between two biscuits, then rolled in desiccated coconut.

BEEF EMPANADAS

Empanadas are hand-made and cooked fresh to order. Popular fillings for these little pies are beef and corn. One stall holder says the secret to the best filling is using the same weight in onions as beef. The onions are slowly cooked with the beef and just a pinch or two of ground cumin and paprika, but not too much. They are pretty good eaten with chimichurri.

MATAMBRE ARROLLADO

Matambre is the thin cut of meat (usually beef but pork matambre is becoming more popular) between the skin and the ribs. It can be cooked on the parrilla, but the most delicious and novel way is to fill it with vegetables, mashed peas, herbs and eggs then poach. Allow to cool in the fridge before slicing and serving with salted crackers for brunch.

GNOCCHI WITH BEEF RAGU

There is a top little bistro in Recoleta called Los Pinos. If you are lucky enough to be in town on the 29th of the month, the restaurant will have gnocchi with beef ragu on the specials board. Like just about everything else in Argentina, food has political significance. And eating gnocchi on this particular day is a reminder of the humble and poverty-stricken origins of many Italians who immigrated to Argentina.

Azcuenaga 1500, Recoleta

CHORIPAN

Choripan, colloquially known as "chori'', is another street food staple. These are delicious bread rolls (a bit like the Vietnamese banh mi), filled with chorizo hot off the grill and an array of condiments. The choripan stalls are called "puesto de choripan''. No trip to Buenos Aires is complete without a visit to the choripan stalls on the waterside promenade of Costanera Sur, right by the Costanera Sur Ecological Reserve. Just look for the statues of local tennis greats Gabriela Sabatini and Guillermo Vilas. The chori stalls are nearby.

FUGAZZA CON QUESO

This simply means pizza with onion and cheese. These are great eaten with a beer or a glass of malbec, a red variety that thrives in Argentina. It is thought that fugazza is derived from the Italian focaccia bread, which could also explain why the pizzas here all have a thick crust. The combination of hot cheese, sweet onion and fragrant oregano is pretty good.

PAPAS FRITAS CON SALSA DE QUESO

Typical of the tasty bar snacks at breweries in Argentina, this is chips with cheese sauce. The craft beer boom has hit Argentina in a big way. In the La Plata region alone, it is said there are more than 300 breweries.

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Ross Dobson is the author of 13 cookbooks including King of the Grill and Food + Beer. The Food of Argentina: Asado, empanadas, dulce de leche and more by Ross Dobson and Rachel Tolosa Paz (Smith Street Books, $ 49.99) is out now. See smithstreetbooks.com

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