During many many years while I was growing up and hosting all my foreign friends in Brazil I told them a lie. I use to affirm with great certainty that they should enjoy the great meat of our barbecues, since that was as good as it gets. I hope they will all forgive me since this was a mix of naiveness, ignorance and the typical 3rd world patriotism, where despite of all we believe that we are good with food. A couple years ago I started to eat more frequently the Argentine assado, their version of the barbecue! Oh lord!
I might be completely overwhelmed by the hospitality of my wonderful argentine hosts the Ayams, but the truth is that after eating with them, I was convinced that being a vegetarian is a non option. There is a kind of religious ritual in order to appreciate the meat in a assado. Differently from us, the time that the meat will come out is mandatory to determine what time it will start. The other major difference is the barbecue itself, while we use as everyone else in the world I guess, the very deep barbecue, they use basically a flat surface, with a grill that is liftable by a leverage on the side, the chalk will have to be distributed with a precision of nuclear weapons since the meat is soo close to it. This allows them to control to what temperature the meat is exposed, enabling to get very different textures for different cuts.
An assado at the Ayams is a great garden event, while Robby our untirable "assado man" takes care of the meat, the wonderful Hilda is preparing an array of salads to serve as sides for the meat, another great thing about their approach to barbecues, no heavy triple carbs like us that will eat farofa, rice and potatoes on top of the meat! This would overshadow the main star of the party!
To start and accompany our wonderful Malbec bottle why not start with a delicious choclo empanada, a delicate pastry filled with corn and onions mix that is sweet and tangy, of even a beef empanada with some eggs and olives cooked for a long time, so it has this juicy deep taste. The actual barbecue it always start with the chorizos, which its sliced in half and put back in the grill, that dries up some of the fat and gives a extra crunchy texture. There are several cuts in a typical assado, these time we moved on for a pork fillet that had a thin layer of fat, that was so juice and moist that it almost did not look like pork, these cut is barbecued on one of its side only so its like the bottom holds all its deliciousness. Then we moved to the pork ribs, that came out easily of the bones, and the little burned parts had that smoky feeling, that only a good chalk barbecue can have.
The star of the meal in my opinion is the Lomo, the fillet is spectacular, despite the lack of natural strong taste of the meat, our meat genius Robby, uses a great technique. He puts a big frying pan directly on to the fire, and drops some of his farm made sweet olive oil, the lomo is then seared very briefly in order to keep its juices inside. It goes back to the grill until its ready to served with a spoon, cause at this point a knife is unnecessary. As sides for all this there a great abundance of salads, a wonderful salsa that reminded me of our version of vinagrete, but with more red and yellow peppers, more finely chopped, and a bit sweeter. But the star of this part was the Guacamole, I did not even like avocados until then, but the creaminess of the avocado and its richness would balance the savory taste and texture of the meat. One thing that it was common across all the cuts served is the different amount of salt used compared to us, they use a similar salt as fleur de sel, that although it does not lets you miss the salt, it also does not make you go in state of thirsty, that only 2 liters of cold bear will save you. Maybe that explains why the wine goes so well with the assado and not with the churrasco.The desert can be the infamous brownie and dulche the leche pie, that make me wish I liked chocolate! But why not a dulche the leche tentacion, from Fredo, the ice cream that is half ice cream half actual dulche de leche. Followed by wonderful spresso and Malamado, a version of the port wine made with malbec grapes, that is less sweet and still quite powerful. The experience is a full one and makes u wonder, why the patriotism when a flight away u can find all that, sorry gringo friends for all the lies