December 11, 2013
Wining onSunday, October 6, 2013
Masticar: get your bite on
On Thursday, opening day, the inevitable queues to get in stretched up the road and round the corner for almost three blocks. That’s a sign that people are hungry, isn’t it?
Located at El Dorrego, the same grounds as last year, the thought that perhaps it might be more of the same invariably crossed my mind. But in fact, Masticar 2 is not just bigger but also better.
Let’s start with the booze, essential for when the crowds get too much. (They will. You’ll need a drink. Trust me on this.) With Campari and Cynar classics served up by hip speakeasy 878, wine and beer tasting tunnels and another booth serving up the sacred grape, you won’t go thirsty.
Let’s move onto produce. I always get excited by mushrooms in all their shapes and sizes. It was a welcome return to see Abrantes, producers of portobellos and oysters from BA province, who were selling packets of mushies that had been plucked that morning. At 20 pesos a pack, the cost isn’t very effective but you don’t see soil-fresh shrooms in the supermarket every day. A good investment.
Il Mirtilo blueberry growers were also in force, with a new blueberry tablet. Give the old quince bar the bin and try this with some goat’s cheese from Cabañas Piedras Blancas.
There is also a great stand from L’epi bakery, with loaves and rolls to die for. Already familiar with their pain au chocolat, I didn’t snap up any goodies this time round, but their baked goods are wonderful and the real French deal.
Of course, the main attraction at Masticar is being able to get a little chef action, to try their creations and get up close and personal. Going out for dinner, a nice, fancy dinner at a top restaurant won’t see much change from 500 pesos for two people (and that’s if you’re lucky).
Given that the fact that the Acelga chefs come together to brainstorm this annual gastro affair, it also means that they come live and direct to the punters.
Fresh off the back of the Latin America 50 Best awards, plenty of winning chefs have concocted dishes especially for this occasion.
Juan Gafuri who runs Elena at the Four Seasons (ranked 50) had a delicious smoked trout(they smoke it in house) and dill-laced new potatoes dish. Fresh, delectable, it was a steal at 35 pesos.
Meanwhile, it was a pleasure to finally get to know Pura Tierra. Martín Molteni, who takes pride in using native ingredients, ranked 33 and it was a great eating experience to tuck into a pork shoulder sandwich slathered in pear chutney, rocket leaves and a crunchy mustard dressing. It was really filling and delicious (45 pesos), and almost eternal. It also came packaged in a cute paper bag (minimum waste, folks), and was worth the wait, as they were making it then and there just for me.
Also drop by the Gajo (Young Gastronomy) stand — these youthful chefs including Soledad Nardelli (28), Gonzalo Aramburu (31), Hernán Gipponi (49) and Germán Martitegui (9).
Of course, other star turns and familiar faces such as Narda Lepes and Francis Mallman (37) have set up shop — definitely hoof up some of Narda’s falafel, pickles, quinoa and yoghurt salad, which I tried at the launch event a few weeks ago. This fusion at her Boca de lobo stand is freshness personified (40 pesos).
Although it costs 40 pesos to get in, beside produce and foodie treats to chow down there are also dozens of workshops to inspire you to greater things with those mushrooms. And you might even get to have your photo taken with celebrity chef. You can’t say (food) fairer than that.