(October 15 – written by Dave)
First an update on our hike yesterday. We managed to reach the top of Cerro de la Gloria (Mount Gloria). Using the word “reach” makes it sound like some sort of big effort or massive summit – it was neither. Using Google maps, we sussed out a 5k walk from our AirB&B. The route took us across what on Google maps looked like a giant city park called, General San Martin Park.
The park has a large lake close to the city edge that we walked past. The lake area was full of locals enjoying a nice spring day – lots of bikers, skaters, rowing crews, walkers and people setting up for picnics. We took the long way around the lake mainly to check-out the rose garden. We did the seasonal math and figured that since we are in the equivalent of northern hemisphere April some roses would be up. It was a nice walk but the roses were mostly stubs. It is still too early in their season I guess.
The walk from the lake to the base of Mount Gloria was not nearly as scenic as we thought it would be. Sure, we were strolling through the park but it was mostly pedestrian un-friendly roads with no official walking paths. We figured out that most folks going to the mountain probably get there by car or bus– and probably drive to the top, rather than walking.
At the mountain base, we found a set of steep steps leading up to the summit, along with a few brave Argentineans earning their views by walking up. At the top, there were two nearly full carparks and lots of tourists, confirming that walking there was not the norm. However one reaches the top, the views of Mendoza and behind Mount Gloria off towards the Andes were quite nice.
The top of the mountain hosts a rather impressive statue to the Army of the Andes. The Army was created in 1817 by the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata (as Chile and Argentina were known). They were mustered by General José de San Martín in his campaign to help the region gain independence from Spain. Back in 1817 they crossed the Andes, took on the Spanish and ultimately succeeding in dislodging them. The story helps explain why we see so many buildings, parks, streets, etc, named San Martin. Until now, I thought San Martin was a saint of some kind.
After photos and having a good look around Mount Gloria we decided to walk back home, intentionally detouring through Aristides food area. It was mid-afternoon and a few of the restaurants were closed but one from Nancy’s list, Josefina, was still serving. We settled into a sunny streetside table and enjoyed an amazing meal including lots of Argentinean meats and a great bottle of local wine. The wine prices continue to amaze us – we had a full bottle of grand reserve malbec from the vineyard we visited up in Cafayate for the princely sum of $12 USD. It was one of the more expensive bottles on the menu. And best of all, it paired very well with our chosen meals. (Yes, Jeanette, we had to bring that last of the bottle home with us – still can’t finish one!)
From our wonderful high-end experience food yesterday, today we moved onto the other end of the spectrum. Here in Argentina, they serve a lot of hotdogs. They call them “panchos” and serve them at many of the mini-markets and small stores. They also have entire restaurants dedicated to hotdogs. There was one such restaurant called “Mr Dog” right near our AirB&B so we decided to try it out today.
We didn’t go there expecting much and it’s probably a good thing. We each ordered “Mr Dog” hotdogs, their premium pancho. You sort of figure that if they are going to get one thing right, it would be their signature dish. We told them we wanted them prepared just like the menu states – giving them full license to put their best dog forward. To be honest, they were pretty dreadful –way too much sauce (mayo, mustard, ketchup and golf sauce (like Thousand Island)), too much fake cheese and the dogs themself were underwhelming.
Ultimately we put our trip to Mr Dog on the list of things to try ONCE in life. We won’t be making repeat visits anytime soon. In fact, we’re probably done trying panchos – they seem to have a following here in Argentina – we are not adding ourselves to that group.
Tomorrow we plan on moving back into the other end of the food spectrum. We’ve booked into Azafran, reasonably well known Mendoza restaurant that serves famous wine-paired multi-course meals. We tried to get in earlier but they were full all weekend and Monday, with their first opening on Tuesday.
We are not really big degustation meal people but a wine-paired meal sounds pretty interesting. You are supposed to get a small glass of wine that specifically matches every course that you are served. We’ll probably “have” to drink a few white wines early in the meal but we are keeping an open mind. Heck, having someone go to the trouble to match wine with food is already miles ahead of our culinary sophistication levels, we’re happy to see what they come up with.
We were supposed to leave Mendoza on Wednesday but we moved the departure to Thursday. We feared being a wee bit dusty on Wednesday AM after the dinner on Tuesday night. And, it looks like we might be able to have one last meet up with Philipp and Tine, our German touring cyclist friends from Peru, as they are due into the city on Wednesday sometime.
Dusty or not, we’ll try post an update of the paired experience before we leave town…