The dream meal of 2012

Dill & Drinks.
Dill & Drinks.
And so it’s time to bid farewell to 2012, the year that was meant to send the human race to the great cooking pot in the sky just last week. Luckily the world did not implode, else it would have ruined the nice round figure (not just mine) of 52 columns in a year and 52 (at least!) meals to bring either a little smile of glutinous pleasure to my face, or have me screeching “emergency!” as I sprint for the bathroom.

It can be a hazardous business, eating. Just on Thursday I saw a new takeaway sushi spot cunningly called Sushi Store on Roque Saénz Peña Avenue downtown. Lured in by the hot pink and citrus orange colours I hopped in. Explicitly asking for any kind of tube roll without avocado, the first suggestion to come back? “Salmon and avocado.” No. I won’t be returning there any time soon, although they also make smoothies so I’ll be interested in slurping down one of those another time.

A quick forecast ahead to 2013, and restaurants I am keen to fill up at. Opened just last week, Epa Arepa on Soler and Carranza looks like a fun, fast stop-off in Palermo Hollywood, and as long as the prices remain in keeping what the product is (a corn crêpe) and taste fab, this could become a regular late-night joint to replace a loaded slice of Kentucky pizza.

Way up at the other end of the scale and located in Microcentro is Mullu, a new Peruvian establishment brought to you by the already successful hands of José Castro Mendivil, owner of Osaka and Sipan. Just beginning to garner some attention, it seems Mullu’s raw fish dishes surpass those of his other establishments, as does the price. Can’t wait to try it, so roll on 2013.

Aramburu's ambience is romantic, sexy, great food for foodies and has the country's top sommelier working there.
Aramburu’s ambience is romantic, sexy, great food for foodies and has the country’s top sommelier working there.
Now, onto the best of this year, and meals that decidedly were not hazardous. It seems appropriate to take the best course from particular favourites — the dream meal. Essentially, I can’t decide what my eating highlight was, so let’s mix up matters a little, a multi-fused dinner if you will, and make sure there are some stomach calmers for after.

For ambience and a romantic setting, there is one place that hits the spot in every way. Intimate yet not uncomfortably silent, excellent service, the best sommelier in Argentina for the second consecutive year as voted for by Vino Argentino, it is San Telmo’s Aramburu.

Dinner proceedings should always be commenced with, of course, a pre-dinner cocktail, and for that I’ll take a cucumber Martini from Dill & Drinks’ mix-maker Juan Sebastián Ruiz. Or two.

A cold starter must come from those great Danes at the Club Danés. Chef Eduardo Marenco’s pork liver paté is the stuff of dreams, and indeed, when he lived in Denmark as an exchange student, he admits to eating it every day. Well, I’m in full agreement with him.

The freshest seafood at Cocina Sunae.
The freshest seafood at Cocina Sunae.
And moving onto to a hot starter, I have ascertained that some of the best Chinese food in Buenos Aires comes from Shi Yuan. Their steamed pork dumplings are light yet porky and wonderful dipped in sesame oil.

My salad course would come straight from Recoleta’s Gioia, a Hyatt-ed up version of the classic Caesar with the welcome addition of a perfectly poached egg and wonderfully crunchy bacon bits. Not necessarily very Italian, but sumptuous and accompanied a great dressing.

And while offal isn’t an official dinner course, I’m fascinated by the veal sweetbreads and rocket salad marinaded in figs from Donca Restaurant. An unexpected and innovative combination.

Melt-in-the-mouth breast of duck on Aipim’s dinner menu.
Melt-in-the-mouth breast of duck on Aipim’s dinner menu.
A fish course could only be the steamed sea bream, from South East Asian closed-door restaurant Cocina Sunae. Abundant, fleshy, with plenty of sauce and greens, Sunae’s fish is immaculately fresh and always perfectly cooked. A win all round, apart from for said fish.

And moving onto the main event, the meat of the day, Aipim’s duck breast was perfectly pink, and teamed up with sopa paraguaya corn bread, caramelized peaches and shoyu leaves, was the real deal.

Dessert? Well, I can take it or leave it. It’s either too sweet or has too much dulce de leche, so allow me to simply toast you with the Champagne of your choice and bid you a happy and peaceful 2013.

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