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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Mendoza is Full of Surprises!

Sarmiento Pedestrian Mall, Mendoza, Argentina

By Roy Heale
Recently I made my second trip to Mendoza and once again I discovered this beautiful city is more than just the capital of Argentina's wine industry. Amidst the beautiful parks and historic Spanish architecture there are some unusual ways for visitors to spend their leisure time.

Dining out is a major part of Mendoza's nightlife but dinner at Los Chocos proved to be a most unique experience. It's a gay-owned and operated restaurant serving a gourmet eight course dinner in a private home similar to the Paladares in Havana, Cuba. Special local Mendoza cuisine was complemented with perfect Malbec wines, wonderful company, and amazingly creative food with mouthwatering flavors, and all for only $50 US dollars. Incredible!

                                  Before Dinner Drinks at Los Chocos

This gourmet restaurant is located in the home of Martin the Chef and his partner Martin who assists with the entire dinner. It's located in the middle of downtown, on the 5th floor of a classic old residential apartment building. You have the whole place to yourself, giving it a familiar and comfortable feel. Reservations are essential as each dinner can only accommodate a total of eight guests.

Martin and His Partner Chef Martin

Chef Martin personally delivers each of the dishes, which are all made with local flavors and ingredients. They feature truly regional ingredients and dishes, unlike anything you'll find in bigger Argentine cities like Buenos Aires. Chef Martin was also kind enough to explain each course, how his creations were conceived, and how long this process takes. The menu only changes with the seasons four times per year but even repeat visits are enjoyable.

Here are just a few of the taste-tempting courses I enjoyed:

*Tapa from Cuyo a braised butternut squash in “jarilla” butter, fresh goat cheese with citric notes and onion marmalade in Malbec served over a crunchy “ sopaipilla”.
*Toasted tomatoes, leek confit, and black sausage pudding, garnished with grated cheese and poached egg yolk.
 *An eight hour slow roasted goat meat, served with a sweet potato mash and garnish.

Every dish was accompanied by amazing home made bread and paired with great wines from a local vineyard.

The rest is up to your own imagination, but this is a singular Mendoza experience not to be missed when you visit the city.

After all those calories late at night some exercise might be in order. Just next door to the restaurant building are two more little-known and unusual Mendoza attractions. Dating back to the 1950s is an old-world Pool Hall with a domed ceiling and wood paneling which is truly like stepping back in time. Then downstairs in the next door building is an even more surprising Bowling Alley where the balls and pins are wooden and there is no mechanical equipment as the pins are reset and the balls returned by a human being! Even if you don't feel like a game of pool or bowling, a visit to each of these venues is a must.

Luckily after this late-night feast and entertainment I only had to walk two blocks to where I was staying at the Modigliani Art and Design Suites. This is Mendoza's only gay-owned and operated accommodations which are conveniently located in the heart of the downtown core. Incidentally the staff are very familiar with Los Chocos and can easily help with your reservations and plans for the whole evening.

Modigliani Art and Design Suites

Mendoza truly is a picturesque Andean city full of surprises and, of course, always great Malbec wines to enjoy!

For Reservations at Los Chocos: (54 2611) 5454 5320 or los.chocos@yahoo.com.ar
For More Information Contact: www.deptosmendoza.com.ar

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