During a brief respite from traveling this September, The Gastronomer and I made our third visit to San Antonio Winery in downtown Los Angeles. Attending the winery’s events is becoming a monthly tradition for us, and it’s also becoming a tradition that I give The Gastronomer a rest by handling the blogging duties. She’s written enough about Mexican food in the past couple of months to last a lifetime.
September’s event at the winery was the “Taste of the Americas” wine and food festival. The setup was similar to Boutique Beer Tasting—the large crowd strolled through the main room sampling food and drinks from several buffet tables and wine stations and then retreated to tables set up throughout the expansive complex to relax and enjoy their selections.
The food offerings were similar to the last event—a bit too similar, I thought, although there were some interesting new choices. I liked the Argentinean empanadas, and The Gastronomer thought the Chilean baked clams and Paraguayan seven meat stew were excellent. The foamy papaya mousse from Chile made me feel like I’d taken a brief detour to a modern fine dining restaurant, although the flavor wasn’t particularly groundbreaking.
Perhaps the strangest dish of the afternoon was the Brazilian vatapa, prawns served in an intensely peanut-y coconut milk sauce. Although she generally gobbles up peanut butter cups and the like, The Gastronomer was really turned off by this particular combination of flavors.
My favorite dish was the Nicaraguan chicken fried rice. It looked unspectacular, but the flavors were really excellent. As with The Gastronomer’s own fried rice recipe, the crucial ingredient was the sausages. I was also excited for the chance to try chicharron (fried pork rinds). They were tasty, but so thick and hard that we could barely bite through them.
After witnessing the rapid depletion of the dessert table at the last San Antonio Winery event, The Gastronomer made sure to make it her first stop this time. She gave rave reviews to the Alfajores De Maicena (short bread and dulce de leche sandwich cookies). After a couple of trips through the entrée lines, I didn’t have much room left for dessert (I’ve always been more of a savories guy), but I did enjoy a chocolate covered strawberry and a couple of little cream-filled fruit tarts.
As I worked my way through the food options, I also began sampling the nine wines on offer, starting with the La Linda Torrontes (Torrontes are an Argentinean grape). I also tried a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc and a Mexican Chardonnay, but I was feeling rather uninspired to drink more—the nature of the food and the rambunctious environment made me yearn for a beer instead. Despite what Joshua Wesson tried to teach me with his peanut butter, I still only feel the urge to pair wines with certain foods, and the unrefined South and Central American dishes didn’t do it for me. Fortunately, none of the other attendees seemed to mind—booze was flowing freely, and two hours into the event our neighbors showed no sign of losing steam. The Gastronomer and I also sampled the homemade white and red sangria, both of which were delicious.
We hung around long enough to catch a musical performance and meet a kind fellow dressed in traditional Peruvian garb. He promised us a dance, but alas, we had to head out before it materialized. I’m sure those who stuck around were in for a treat.