everyone was telling me i should get empanadas in Salta, since they are supposedly the best in the country — and, also supposedly, where they were invented. i found a place nearby that got pretty good foursquare tips (as much as places get tips around here) and discovered they had a more expansive menu of regional specialties. score! here’s what i had:
- empanadas: 1 meat (without chili peppers) and 1 cheese. the cheese had a faint wine taste. if it was indeed wine, i feel classy! if it wasn’t, eh, i’ll pretend it was. 😉 that salsa they gave was VERY SPICY. i’m glad i didn’t spoon it over the empanadas but rather just tried a single dip (which was too much for me). both were quite good, but, of course, i liked the cheese better.
- tamale: the filling was charqui — spiced dried beef (psst, the origin of our word “jerky”). it was dry. :\ i could have passed on this. i never was a fan of tamales, but i thought i’d try this one anyways. nope. not a fan. unrelated: the server, if i understood her correctly, told me to cut the ties on both ends and then open the tamale up. i must not have great knife skills because as much as i tried (gingerly, without jabbing myself), i couldn’t do it. i ended up sawing the sides off lol.
- guaschalocro (aka huaschalocro): a regional Andean stew made with yellow corn (a regular locro, apparently, is made with white corn), pork legs, and sausage. THIS WAS SO GOOD. it might have helped that corn is my number one favorite vegetable (tied with onion), but the stew was not too thick, not too thin, and robust with flavor. not spicy at all. also, so much corn! i’m tempted to go back tomorrow to try the regular locro.
- quesillo con cuaresmillo: i’m not one to have cheese for dessert, but i really can’t pass up the local fresh cheese they have here. i was expecting well, a cheese wedge, not these thin slices, but it worked well with the fruit and the syrup. there were several options for a topping: sugar cane jam, cayote (which i googled and found out was a melon — interesting but no thanks; not in the mood), figs, quince (membrillo), and cuaresmillo.
i looked cuaresmillo up and it was the winner! it’s a local peach that’s grown in this province of Argentina. from that link:
A dessert from Salta based on this peach is one of the country’s oldest sweets. The preparation of this dish consists of peeling the fruit and making syrup by slowly cooking it down with sugar. It must be simmered at great length to ensure that the flesh is tender and the syrup has time to become reasonably thick.
this stewed version tasted somewhat like prunes to me, which is not necessarily a bad thing, even though i’m not a fan of prunes. overall the dessert was a great combination of sweet and salty, but it was really sweet. the first bite made me sit up straight, eyes wide open, and by the end i had a little headache :\. if i could do it over, i’d probably try the cayote.
total price: 137 pesos (~$13.70) including that bottle of water.
sidebar: timing don’t forget people here eat late. i got to the restaurant a little before 8:30 and there were only two other tables filled. by the time i left at maybe an hour later, it had filled up quite a bit more. that said, i’m glad i went at that time because i caught the end of the golden hour. the Plaza 9 de Julio was alive and glowing.