Brand building through storytelling

The joyous gastronomic bargains of Argentina

Suppose you have a friend who´s got everything going for her except infallibly bad taste in men and a habit of dwelling on her tortured familial past. She sparkles with talent, beauty and panache. There´s no one more fun to be around, yet she just can´t get her act together. And when she starts obsessing about Mom and Dad, brace yourself for torrents of angst. They´ve been gone for decades, yet their memory still rules her life. At every turn she asks herself (and anyone who´ll listen), ¨What would my parents think?¨ She vacillates wildly between reverence and rebellion.

If your friend were a country, she´d be Argentina, where the economy´s a mess, corruption is rampant and all conversational roads eventually lead to Juan Peron and Evita. You might not want to get too close to her. Still, you can´t resist her creative flair and effervescent company. So you go out to dinner, lucky you. In Argentina fabulous food and wines of distinction can be had for a fraction of what you´d have to pay for a comparable meal somewhere else.

In Mendoza, the capital of Argentinian wine, my husband and I paid $135 U.S., including tip, for dinner at La Bourgogne, reputedly the finest restaurant in town and one of the best in the country. The beet soup tasted of the sun-drenched soil (I always liked beets, but I´d known only the cloyingly one-dimensional Canadian counterparts). The quince tart, garnished with lavender ice cream, was bewitchingly tangy, a tart in the true sense of the word. Both the sea bass and the service were flawless. And the wine! Trust me, there´s way more to Argentinian wine than the big brawny Malbecs we hear so much about in North America. For instance, the subtly sensational Linda Flor Chardonnay we enjoyed at La Bourgogne. In a New York or Las Vegas restaurant of the first rank, we could have had a bottle of equal complexity. But the wine alone would have cost $100. I´d rather not think about the tab for the meal.

I should point out that La Bourgogne, while the gastronomic high point of our visit, was in now way a fluke. We feasted happily at three other Mendoza restaurants for an equally reasonable sum, relatively speaking.

I wouldn´t dream of buying a condo in Argentina, although I must say the prices are seductive. That would be like starting a business with my most volatile friend. But there´s no place more exciting when it comes to an affordable dinner.

Posted by Rona

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