Living the Good Life: Mendoza

Wine, grilled meats, gorgeous scenery: how could we not return to Mendoza? After an amazing visit there in 2014 with our friends So Much Wine and So Little Time – Mendoza, Argentina we were eager to return. We again arranged winery tours with Ampora Wine Tours but this time added on an asado cooking class to learn the art of Argentine grilling.

The Hills Are Alive

Mauricio Camenforte was our host for the asado class that was held in his backyard. We enjoy seeing how people live and his home and its view were lovely. Mauricio clearly loved having people in his home to show them a true Argentine experience. There were three other Americans from Seattle in the class  – Norberto, Jeff and Holly – and we quickly bonded over a shared love of travel, wine and food.

Ready to Feast!

An asado is made on a special type of grill: a long, flat concrete surface with a metal grill and basket. Only wood is used and the idea is to take your time, drink some wine and enjoy the process. Mauricio started by creating a wood fire. As the wood burns, you knock off cinders and spread them under the grill. Once you have a suitable amount to start grilling, you place the burning wood in the basket, replenish as needed and continue to knock off cinders for under the grill.

As we waited for the fire to burn, we started our feast with delicious bread accompanied by an eggplant spread, blue cheese spread, chorizo and olives. Next up were some amazing empanadas. It goes without saying that there was an endless supply of malbec wine as well.


Then we got to work. We sliced the veggies and put them on the grill with small, fresh chorizos. Beef ribs were expertly placed for slow cooking. Holly and I volunteered to make the chimichurri and we chopped the parsley and garlic as we sipped our wine. Mauricio put green and red peppers and onions directly in the fire basket, which wowed us all. We were even more wowed when they were done and we simply rinsed them under the tap, cut them up and seasoned them with some olive oil, salt and pepper.

Mauricio oversaw the completion of the chimichurri and then we were ready to make choripan – little chorizo sandwiches with chimichurri. Delicious! We also learned to make matambre a la pizza – flank steak topped with tomato sauce and mozzarella. Mauricio warned us that this dish is hit or miss as sometimes the meat can be tough, but his was a big hit.

The food just kept coming! We made provoleta – provolone grilled in a special cast-iron skillet. While we were eating the ribs, veggies and a salad, Mauricio snuck some gorgeous tenderloins on the grill. Just when we thought we couldn’t eat more, we did! The meal ended with a dessert of baked apples with dulce de leche and the popular Argentine drink of Fernet and Coke.

The class was a top notch experience from start to finish. While we didn’t think we could eat or drink for a week, we rose to the occasion the next two days with our wine tasting tours. Both days were excellent and we again met great people and sampled fantastic wines.

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♥ Mendoza!

Glaciers Galore!

I’m weeks behind on writing any posts, but anyone who knows me knows that I am all about chronological order. When we left Chilean Patagonia’s Torres del Paine National Park, we crossed the border into Argentina and headed to El Calafate. Still in Patagonia, El Calafate is a cute tourist town capitalizing off the proximity to Glacier National Park. After some pampering and a day of rest in a nice hotel, we were ready to check out some glaciers.

Glacier National Park

Our first tour was to El Perito Moreno glacier. El Perito Moreno’s claim to fame is that it actually is advancing as opposed to retreating like most of the world’s glaciers and every several years it forms a bridge with the land that lasts for a period of time until it crashes into the water. While I was interested in seeing the glacier, I had no idea how wowed I would be. The park has a series of metal walkways (I had to quickly get over my grate phobia) that allow many different views of the massive glacier. It looks like an advancing ice army and its creaking and groaning are spectacular. There was no ice bridge, but we were fortunate to see several calving incidents. Despite the dreary, drizzly day, we had a fantastic time.

The next day was our big adventure: kayaking at the Upsala Glacier. Matt and I are experienced kayakers, but I was still nervous about kayaking near a glacier and in frigid water. What a great time! The tour company, Upsala Kayak Experience, was fantastic. We had excellent gear (although I can’t stand things around my neck and the dry suit was a necessarily tight fit!) and the staff was fun and engaging.

Not everyone had kayaking experience, but after some instructions and paddling demonstrations, we set off. We intended to go to the face of the Upsala Glacier, but a storm blew in and our guides wisely determined a better course was to paddle around a large iceberg.

After we paddled around the iceberg, we headed back to shore. It was strenuous paddling as the wind was against us and the guides worked to keep the group on track. One kayak needed to be towed when they got far afield. Matt kept us on course and we paddled well together, which is unusual! The weather cleared up a little and we were offered the treat of paddling under a waterfall. Matt and I gamely went first and had a ball. I was shocked that we stayed dry. Each kayak had two trips under the falls, then we returned to the boat for the ride back to the dock.


After two active days at the glaciers, we relaxed on our last day and enjoyed walking around town and through its park. We recognized our pal Darwin with a few of his animal friends.

After 10 days enjoying nature, we left El Calafate for Buenos Aires to enjoy some city living for a couple of weeks. Stay tuned!