Solo vives una vez

My meal at La Florencia in Mendoza was one of the greatest meals I have had in most recent memory.

The night began when I asked Connie at Mendoza Backpackers Hostel where I could go to get something good, but cheap and preferably carne y Malbec. She sent me to La Florencia.

As I walked down Sarmiento, I came to a hard stop when I noticed the slabs of meat being thrown onto the parrilla in the window in front of the sidewalk. I salivated immediately. Oh my god, I thought to myself. It was heaven. Bife de chorizo, morcilla, asado de tira and more. I could not have been more happier.

When I asked a man who turned out to be the grillmaster to explain all the meats to me, he passed me along to who would be my server, Leo. Leo and I chatted for a good 15-20 minutes before I realized that this was the restaurant I was searching for.

After realizing this was La Florencia, I was seated outside. I was the only one in the outdoor section, but that didn’t matter to me. After much deliberation, I chose a Santa Julia Reserva. The bottle of Malbec was a special offer so I decided to try it out and it was not bad at all. It was one of my reasons for going there after all.

I started with the capresse, an empanada of mozzarella, tomato and basil. I also tried Mendoza’s famous Pastelitos Mendocinos, an empanada made with egg yolk and meat. Both melted in my mouth as I bit into them.

From the moment I took a bite of the bife de chorizo (sirloin strip steak), I began repeatedly saying out loud to myself, “Oh my god.” The slab of meat was cooked just to the right temperature. I had carefully explained to Leonardo, my server, that in the U.S. we have five levels of temperatures whereas in Argentina they have three. I was a bit worried at first because I certainly don’t like my steak bloody as hell, but I don’t like it burnt to a crisp either (and medium is often too done).

The papas fritas provencales were excellent. French fries with parsley and garlic. Just too good. To me, potatoes (in this case in the form of french fries) are the perfect match for steak. Not only fries, but also Malbec.

Hands down, this was one of the best meals I have had in a while. I sat by myself and ate in excess while saying to myself ‘solo vives una vez’ (you only live once). Indeed you do. Hence my desire to eat good steak and drink fine wine–even alone.

Bife de chorizo (Photo by Nathan Frandino)

Bife de chorizo (Photo by Nathan Frandino)

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