East Oregonian : E.O. (Pendleton, OR) 1888-current, April 01, 2017, WEEKEND EDITION, Page Page 4C, Image 22

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    Page 4C
East Oregonian
Saturday, April 1, 2017
A homey meal steeped in culture at The Argentine Experience
Associated Press
tina — Let’s start at the end,
with dessert at The Argentine
The Buenos Aires restau-
rant that immerses diners in
culture offers an abundance of
tastes and the stories behind
them. On the night my family
shared a communal table with
another group of U.S. visitors,
dessert included a delicacy
prepared with sponge-like
yacaratia wood.
Alex Pels, one of the
founding co-owners of The
Argentine Experience, said in
an interview that the earliest
inhabitants of what is now
northern Argentina chewed
yacaratia wood because it
stored water. Pels’ pastry
chef sweetens the wood and
serves it atop local cheese in
precise cubes that wouldn’t
look out of place in a three-
star restaurant anywhere in
the world. The architectural
treats seemed particularly
modernist alongside another
dessert we sampled, alfajores
cookies, accompanied by the
national drink of warm mate
(pronounced mah TAY). The
herbal infusion is a perfect,
bitter complement to the rich
We also learned a decadent
technique for enjoying the
alfajores: Slather one buttery
cookie with dulce de leche, a
caramelized milk concoction
popular across Latin America.
Layer on another cookie.
Roll the cookie sandwich
in shredded coconut. Dip in
melted chocolate for decadent
good measure.
The main course was, of
course, tender Argentine beef
served with grilled vegetables
and several versions of the
traditional chimichurri sauce
of oil, vinegar and herbs. But
we also ate slivers of flavorful
pork in a land famed for its
beef. Pels told me that his
partner Leon Lightman, who
is from England, had been in
Argentina several years before
he encountered the pork cut
Argentines call matambre.
“It’s definitely something
that Argentines would order
and something that foreigners
don’t,” Pels said.
In creating The Argen-
AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko
In this March 20 photo a tourist serves himself chorizo,
the local sausage, at a dinner during an activity called
The Argentine Experience in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko
In this March 20 photo Jane Andrews, from U.S, second left, smiles during an activi-
ty called The Argentine Experience in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Tourists participating
in The Argentine Experience have the chance to learn about the local cuisine, wine
and traditions during a dinner in Buenos Aires.
AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko
AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko
AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko
In this March 20 photo a tourist eats meat during an
activity called The Argentine Experience in Buenos Ai-
res, Argentina.
In this March 20 photo people have din-
ner at a restaurant during an activity
called The Argentine Experience.
In this March 20 photo a tourist makes his
own empanada during an activity called
The Argentine Experience.
tine Experience, Pels and
Lightman wanted to show-
case food visitors might be
missing. One inspiration was
chef, restaurateur and author
Francis Mallmann. Mallmann
was trained in France but
gained fame with grilling and
other cooking techniques of
his native Argentina.
Pels and Lightman started
out in 2011 serving dinners
in an apartment in Recoleta,
a neighborhood known for
its historic cemetery. The
next year they moved to airy,
two-story quarters in the
trendy Palermo Hollywood
Early on, customers said
they were getting too much
information from staff who
guide diners through prix fixe
meals. That’s been relaxed,
“so that people don’t think it’s
The activities and uniforms
created camaraderie among
my family, the Israeli-Amer-
icans at our table and the
Germans and South Africans
at the next.
“People don’t know how
to meet other people when
they travel. But that’s how
stories are created: You meet
other people,” said Pels,
who has managed hotels and
hostels and travels frequently
Evenings at The Argentine
Experience are conducted in
English or Portuguese, but not
Spanish. The program doesn’t
cater to locals because Pels
fears they’d be unimpressed
by the homestyle cooking.
That left me wondering just
how authentic my evening
was. So I asked around,
turning among others to
a class,” Pels said.
Facts about the food
shared in English were
leavened by family stories
and jokes during our visit. We
also learned a few Spanish
terms, such as how to order a
medium rare steak (jugoso, or
The light tone didn’t
mask a deep understanding
and appreciation of the food
and its role in the broader
culture. The relaxed approach
and free-flowing local wine,
though, did make it easy for
guests to get to know one
another, also a goal of The
Argentine Experience.
Upon arrival, we donned
aprons and chef hats. We
assembled the cookie sand-
wiches as well as empanadas,
folding mixtures of meat or
cheese into pastry circles.
Pork medallions with grape sauce
make a quick weeknight entree
Associated Press
Here’s a quick, easy and
delicious weeknight entree that’s
certain to impress your family. The
star of the show is pork tenderloin,
the leanest and most tender part of
the animal. Like beef tenderloin,
pork tenderloin is a muscle cush-
ioned by other muscles. It’s tender
because it’s not used very much. I
prefer it hands-down to pork loin,
which is prone to cook up dry and
Pork tenderloin is a narrow
cylinder of meat, usually weighing
between 1 to 1 ¼ pounds. For this
recipe it’s cut crosswise into rounds
(or medallions). These medallions
would be kind of puny if you
cut the tenderloin straight down
because it’s only about 2 inches in
diameter. Here, though, we slice
it at a 45-degree angle into rounds
that are around 3 inches in diameter.
Tender as it is, tenderloin will
dry out if it’s overcooked. This
recipe arms you with two ways
to guard against it. First, dip the
medallions in flour before browning
them. Second, brown the meat very
quickly, just one minute per side.
(Make sure your pan is good and
hot before adding the meat.) The
flour not only furnishes the meat
with a protective outer coating, it
also helps thicken the sauce when
the meat is returned to the pan at
the end of the recipe. And the quick
browning leaves the pork extra-pink
inside, which makes it that much
harder to overcook afterward.
The grapes are the surprise
ingredient here. Much as we love
grapes straight off the vine, a
cooked grape is one in which the
flavor has been concentrated. In
effect, it becomes grape-ier. Once
you’ve tasted the cooked grapes in
this recipe, you may find yourself
adding them to other savory sauces.
Try them with sauteed chicken and
see for yourself.
Sara Moulton is host of public
television’s “Sara’s Weeknight
Meals.” She was executive chef at
Gourmet magazine for nearly 25
years and spent a decade hosting
several Food Network shows.
Mariano Bruno, a friend of
a friend who is a political
scientist and self-described
“foodie” and wine enthusiast.
Bruno told me he has
watched a revolution in
Buenos Aires restaurants in
the last decade, with many
establishments sharing The
awareness of the importance
of ingredients. While I had
enjoyed beef, pork and local
vegetables at The Argentine
Experience, Bruno said there
was even more to explore.
“Not everything is beef,”
he said. “In this country we
have great lamb. The best
comes from Patagonia.”
A rg e n t i n e - A m e r i c a n
Lucila Giagrande Lucila’s
Homemade Alfajores supplies
cookies to shops and cafes in
the Chicago area. Giagrande
was surprised and pleased to
hear that a fancy restaurant
had served us the pastries and
shared the ritual of heaping
dried mate leaves into tradi-
tional clay mugs, pouring in
not-too-hot water and sipping
in turn from communal mugs.
“When the tourist or the
traveler gets to hang out with
Argentines (at their homes),
one of the first things they’ll
do is get to share alfajores
with mate,” said Giagrande,
who like Bruno is not asso-
ciated with The Argentine
A night out that requires
costumes and playing with
your food could have been
hokey. Instead, our Argentine
experience was a friendly
and relaxed way to learn
about the locals and what and
why they eat.
Filet mignon with pistou and salad
Associated Press
Wow, does this dish look classy,
right? But look at the ingredient
list — not too long. And look at the
steps — pretty darn simple.
My boys love all kinds of
steaks, though a perfect, tender filet
distinctively communicates “special
occasion.” They are no harder to cook
than any other steaks; just make sure
to have the temperature high enough
in the pan that the outside gets nicely
seared while the middle remains pink,
and be careful to not overcook it. A
medium rare filet will have an internal
temperature of 130 F.
Pistou is similar to pesto, though
often made with a looser consistency,
and sometimes the pine nuts and/or
Parmesan cheese are omitted, resulting
in a simpler basil, garlic and olive oil
sauce. That’s the drizzle you’re going
for here, just a pop of herb-infused
green olive oil to brighten up that
perfect little filet. Then all you need
is a handful of lightly dressed baby
greens on the side and you are in
Sara Moulton via AP
Start to finish: 40 minutes (20 active)
Servings: 4
• 1 pork tenderloin (about 1-1¼ pounds)
• 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• Kosher salt and black pepper
• ½ cup Wondra or all-purpose flour
• ¼ cup minced shallots or onion
• 1 cup red or yellow seedless grapes or a mix, halved
• ½ cup dry white wine
• 1½ cups low sodium chicken broth
• 1 teaspoon firmly packed dark brown sugar
• 1½ tablespoons Dijon mustard
Slice the pork diagonally at a 45-degree angle into 7 to
8 pieces, each about ¾- to 1-inch thick. Don’t worry if the
pieces are not all the same size. Just make sure they are all
the same thickness.
In a large skillet heat half the oil over medium-high heat.
While the oil is heating, season half the pork medallions on
both sides with salt and pepper and then dip them in the flour,
shaking off the excess. Add them to the skillet and brown
them quickly, about 1 minute a side, transferring them to
a plate when they are done. Repeat the procedure with the
remaining pork, flour and oil.
Add the shallots to the skillet, reduce the heat to medi-
um-low and cook the shallots, stirring, for 1 minute. Add
the grapes and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Add
the white wine and deglaze the pan, scraping up the brown
bits and simmer the wine until it is reduced to about ¼ cup.
Add the chicken broth and sugar and simmer until reduced
by half. Whisk in the mustard. Return the pork and any juice
from the plate to the skillet and simmer gently, turning the
medallions, several times, for 2 minutes. Divide the pork
medallions among 4 plates and spoon some of the sauce over
each portion.
Nutrition information per serving: 382 calories; 124
calories from fat; 14 g fat (2 g saturated; 0 g trans fats);
92 mg cholesterol; 360 mg sodium; 24 g carbohydrate; 1 g
fiber; 8 g sugar; 33 g protein.
Sarah E Crowder via AP
Serves 4
Start to finish: 25 minutes
• 2 garlic cloves
• ½ cup fresh basil leaves
• ⅓ cup plus 3 tablespoons
extra virgin olive oil, divided
• Kosher salt and freshly
ground pepper to taste
• 4 5-ounce filet mignon
steaks, about 1-inch thick
• 1 tablespoon white wine
• 5 ounces mixed baby lettuces
Make the pistou: Place the
garlic cloves in a small food
processor and mince. Add the
basil and process again to chop,
then add 1/3 cup of the olive oil,
some salt and pepper, and blend
until it becomes a bright green
Season the steak generously
with salt and pepper. Heat a large
heavy skillet, such as cast iron,
over medium-high heat. Add 1
tablespoon olive oil, and when the
oil is hot, sear the steak for 3 to 4
minutes on each side for medium
rare. Remove the steaks to a
cutting board and let them rest for
5 minutes before serving.
While the meat is resting, in a
large bowl combine the remaining
2 tablespoons olive oil, the
vinegar, and salt and pepper. Stir
to combine, add the lettuce and
Serve the filets with a drizzle
of the pistou on top, and a couple
of handfuls of the dressed mixed
greens. Pass the rest of the pistou
on the side for extra drizzling.
Nutrition information
per serving: 542 calories;
356calories from fat; 40 g fat (8
g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 116
mg cholesterol; 231 mg sodium;
2 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 0 g
sugar; 42 g protein.