The Vines of Mendoza

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Ross Szabo recently spent time in Mendoza learn about wine and resort development after two years of serving in the Peace Corps in Botswana.

The Art of The Vines Asado


Guests at The Vines of Mendoza can expect to experience Argentina’s finest asado. An asado is the best kind of barbecue you could imagine. Forget about giant gas grills. Argentine asados consist of the finest meats cooked over coals for an incredibly precise amount of time. Our asador, Mario, has been cooking asados his whole life and puts a tremendous effort into every detail.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to Mario's famous asado.

  1. Mario starts by layering the metal bottom of the parrilla with pebbles. Next, he piles wood just a bit more than a foot high on the parrilla and starts a fire. The pebbles keep the heat from the fire separate from the metal.
  2. As the wood burns down to coals, which are the vital source of heat for the asado, Mario moves the larger pieces of wood that are still burning on to a grate. The fire burns on top and releases the coals underneath providing easy access for him to add more heat to the parrilla when necessary.
  3. While the fire is burning, Mario prepares the meat. All of the meat for The Vines is bought locally in a town called Vista Flores. As is the norm in Argentina, cows are raised free range, grass fed and without steroids or hormones. Mario rolls a bottle of wine over sea salt on a cutting board, then takes all of the cuts of meat and coats them with salt and pepper. Chorizo (sausage), lomo (tenderloin), costillas (ribs), matambre (thin cut near ribs), morcillas (blood sausage) and chicken are the meats Mario uses -- traditional asado cuts.
  4. Mario also takes some wood from the fire to make “verduras al disco,” which are vegetables cooked in a circle shaped pot. The veggies include corn, potatoes, eggplant, onions, carrots and sweet potatoes. They are cooked until the perfect point of falling being very tender, but not falling apart.
  5. When the coals have reached a temperature warm enough to not hold your hand over for 5 seconds, Mario places the meats on the parrilla. The grill sits about 6 inches over the coals allowing the perfect amount of space to add coals underneath while cooking the meat on top.
  6. It’s key to let all of the meats sit and cook, rather than continuously turn them or move them. Mario adds more coals when necessary and makes sure none of them flare up into a flame. The meat should be cooked by the coals, not fire.
  7. The chorizo finishes first. Mario cuts them and puts them on some delicious bread for small sandwiches called chori-pans. Literal translation: heaven on a bun. It is easily one of the best sandwiches in Mendoza. When paired with a nice Torrontes to kick off the asado it’s a heavenly welcome to The Vines.
  8. Mario waits for the other meats to develop a nice crust from the salt and heat. When he sees that he knows the crunchy outside matches a warm, juicy and pink inside. The meats are ready! The vegetables also reach their optimal serving at the same time that the meat is finished.
  9. Mario slices the meat into small pieces that are then served to guests. It’s literally a smorgasbord of endless mouthwatering cuts that satisfy all carnivorous cravings. And if you’re not that into meat you can take comfort in the vegetables or avocado and tomato salad that most people mix with the meats. But a lot of vegetarians have switched to meat eaters in Mendoza -- we will forewarn you!

Pair all of it with delicious Argentina wines, the breathtaking view of the Andes, great conversation with interesting people from all over the world, and you'll know you are at The Vines!

Ross Szabo has enjoyed his fair share of asados during his brief time in Mendoza. He is determined to bring the chori-pan to his next stop -- Venice Beach, California.  

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