From left, kid testicle, chivito chitlin, lamb chitlin
Improved with every intestine.
To say it has been a regular working week would of course be a lie. Former President Néstor Kirchner and “first gentleman” to current president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (that’s the short version), died of a heart attack on Wednesday so the soul has been stretched, personal emotions put on hold and armed with a notepad and pen, one has tried to bring what one can to the table to raise the stakes for the newspaper I work for.

In the meantime, research continues for a totally different project, SHOP Buenos Aires. Nothing to show you as yet, but I’m there, hammering away, concocting Perfect Days and deciding where the tourists of 2011 will be chowing. Well, SHOP readers, that is.

Downtime required, and finally La Brigada in San Telmo gave me a nod. Let the research continue…

In this game of test ‘n try, I put my mouth in someone else’s hands, and last night it was Horacio who got lucky. He rolled out a skinny bottle of Marianne Malbec 2008 from the San Juan region, a fruity number coming from Las Moras bodega. It was rather light, like a heavy rosé, but got increasingly denser as the night progressed.

First out was provoleta, that delicious melted cheese with scattered oregano – so much better than pizza, who needs dough? – but this was a goat’s cheese provoleta. My word, less greasy, more delectable, certainly melt in the mouth, it felt so healthy I demanded another. Almost. two portions of melted cheese is never good for your heart, kids.

What followed was a barrage of bits, the intestinal parts such as chitlins, sweetbreads, black pudding, kidney and a pork sausage. But instead of your “average” thymus or pancreas sweetbread, this was a little bit special: kid and beef mollejas on the same plate. The kid sweetbread had a definite Billy Goat Gruff taste to it, marking it way above average. Definitely interesting to be able to make a kid and beef comparison too.

Like a mini round Danish pastry, the lamb chitlins were also a delicacy first, and evaporated in my mouth. Good call, Horacio.

But the star of the La Brigada show were the criadillas, weren’t they, Alan? “God, this must be a man thing but I don’t think I can cut into it,” he said. Oh whatever, a bollock’s a testicle’s a ball, and a lamb’s one at that. In I went. Directly, obviously, easy to cut, smooth texture like a spoonful of cream (not cottage) cheese and rather tasty at that. Dare I say it, healthy?

The Canadian couple at the next table watched in awe, and I think with a little emerald-eyed monster nearby, but also intrigued as all these intestines were merrily dissected and discussed by us. He ended up copy catting and ordered some plaited chivito chitlins, so green was his envy, and that was after putting away the biggest T-bone I’ve ever seen.

Two additionals. One, Horacio cut our medium-rare rib eye strip with a spoon. Yes, a spoon.

Two, the Marianne Malbec which I mildly bitched about improved progressively as the evening went on as it went with every bloody intestines that came my way. From lamb ball and chitlin to the cumin and spring onion blood sausage, it was a perfect combination. I lapped up every drop of everything, Malbec, criadilla and all.

Note, there isn’t a special intestine tasting menu at La Brigada and diners should order them individually.

First photo, lamb testicle, chivito chitlin and lamb chitlin.

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