The time has come, guys. Yesterday, under a bright-blue sky and unseasonal sunshine, the 2018 edition of Feria Masticar kicked off at El Dorrego in Colegiales. The most important food fair in Buenos Aires – and by default, Argentina – is back and truly better than ever, with a dizzying agenda of cooking classes, workshops, and talks to complement the overwhelmingly diverse food and drink stands.
Though the festivities will continue through Sunday evening, giving you plenty of time to roam and feast at leisure, it’s essential to arrive with a game plan. Otherwise, you run the risk of missing out on Masticar’s greatest hits, and let’s be honest – ain’t nobody got time for that.
Rest easy, dear reader. We’ve put together an essential guide to this year’s activities so you can sip and sup your way to pure bliss.
iLatina + Pura Sabrosura
Without a doubt, one of the best food trucks at Masticar is iLatina‘s Pura Sabrosura. Everything from the #jungalow motif to the incredible Caribbean-inspired dishes on offer is just perfection. This year, Santi Macías and team are serving up two gems: Colombian yellow-corn arepa with morcilla, head cheese, green apple, and fennel (AR$ 120); there’s also a Oaxaca-style chicken with mole and homemade fresh pickled veg that will blow your mind (AR $150). Finger-lickin’ good, I tell ya.
iLatina is one of the country’s best restaurants; this is your chance to get in on some of that goodness without dropping half of your monthly salary on the check. What’s more, Macías is committed to sustainability; all of the packaging is biodegradable and whatever isn’t used goes directly into the restaurant’s compost bin, which is then used in their garden.
Alo’s Cocina de Raíz
One of the best reasons to leave Capital and venture into the city’s northern suburbs, Alo’s is another fantastic restaurant that blends sophisticated cuisine with a laid-back, decidedly unfussy vibe. This year at Masticar, their bomba de panceta with potato, chipotle, and lime (AR $120) will make your tastebuds do backflips.
Served in upcycled cardboard egg cartons, they’re deceptively filling without being heavy. I would like to have a little stash of these in my pockets at all times. The squeeze of lime lends just enough acidity to balance things out, and what I would give to buy a bucket of that chipotle sauce. Mmmmmmmm.
Everyone knows Narda. She’s a pioneer of local, sustainable eating in Argentina and has made it her mission to get porteños to fall back in love with vegetables (among other things). Her no-bullshit approach to cooking results in creative flavor combinations that highlight each season’s best products.
Pop by her stand and dive into the Mbeju que lo parió, which is a crunchy, cheesy mandioca cake topped with a soft egg (drool), avocado, pickled red onion, and yogurt (AR $120). It’s a little messy, but holy crap is it good. It’s something you wish you could make every weekend for breakfast – and probably could, if you weren’t such a lazy bum – but Narda’s magic touch just takes it to the next level.
Ah, La Mar. It’s the stand that probably has the longest lines every year, without fail. Imagine a big, giant Peruvian bash that you definitely want to be invited to, no questions asked. Take a deep breath, be patient, and then step right up and order a Nikkei Bowl, which has sushi rice, cebiche tartar, cucumber, avocado, hot peppers (#blessed), and cilantro (AR $120).
It’s super filling, which makes it an ideal dish to share with your trusty Masticar buddy that I hope is accompanying you on this journey. The hint of spice is what makes this one of my favorite things on offer this year; while Argentina is making strides, on a whole it’s still a place that avoids heat when it can. So let’s take a moment and thank those Peruvians for showing the locals how it’s done.
If you want to ignore the fact that the local economy is in flames and any pesos you might still have in the bank are depreciating at an ever-increasing rate, check out Crizia’s oyster truck. For a few moments you’ll feel like it’s the ’90s again, Menem is president, and everyone is chasing their pizza with champagne. But in a good way, trust me.
The classic raw oysters with lemon, shallot vinaigrette, and Tabasco (AR $70/each) will never fail you, nor will the smoked oysters with house-cured panceta and lime butter (AR $70/each). Given how warm it’s been this week, these fresh-n-briny bivalves will bring you some much-needed relief from the heavier dishes on offer.
One of my personal favorite restaurants in Buenos Aires, Pura Tierra makes you want to throw on a poncho, live in a sprawling estancia, and ride a horse into town to get your errands done (maybe that’s me?). At any rate, Chef Martín Molteni goes beyond the trope of steak and potatoes, showcasing other local meats like yacaré and llama. Yep, you read that correctly.
Don’t miss the yacaré croquettes, which come with a tasty little aioli, basil, and red pepper (AR $140). And before you turn to Google translate, yes, “yacaré” means caiman, which is actually… alligator! Bam. Crocodile Dundee, eat your heart out (?).
Pablo Buzzo & Mauricio Couly
Cheeeeeeese, Gromit. Seriously, if I could subsist on queso alone, I would without question. Thankfully Pablo Buzzo and Mauricio Couly know what’s up and are giving the people what they want. Dive right in to the poutine patagónico with venison, crunchy potatoes, and fresh cheddar (AR $150).
Seriously, where has this been all my life?! All *our* life? Stick a fork in me, I’m done.
Are you exhausted yet? But, like, in the good way? That’s OK, it’s normal. Masticar is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s key to take breaks at regular intervals and refuel. If caffeine and sugar are your go-to stimulants, the Nespresso stand is an oasis of nourishment. While you’re sipping on a fancy little espresso, set your sights on one of the delectable desserts on display.
You can’t go wrong with the dense chocolate cake topped with crunch merengue, for obvious reasons. Go big or go home, right? Once all the sugar hits your bloodstream, you’ll be ready to do another lap around the fair.
We can’t go on and on about all this incredible food without contemplating wine. If you’re a borderline functioning alcoholic, the Probemos Vino space will be right up your alley. It’s also like an amusement park for adults, because this year the wine is served in the form of those cool WineEmotion dispensers, which kind of makes me feel like we’re finally a developed country (?). For just AR $30, you can sample any three wines your little heart desires!
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En Masticar también se bebe bien. Búscanos en el espacio “Probemos Vino” y por $30 pesos proba 3 copas degustación (35 ml) de etiquetas como Tintillo, Malbec del Mercado(@bodegasantajulia ), Amalaya (@bodegacolome ) y muchas más. #wineemotionar #wineemotionargentina #probemosvino #vinoenmasticar #vinoporcopa
Stay cool with a glass of crisp Trumpeter Rosé, which stands out from other Argentine rosés that tend to be a little to fuchsia for my tastes. Of course, you’ll become obsessed with pressing the dispenser’s little buttons like some crazed child, and will probably end up slightly over-served. But you know what? I’m a grown woman and I will do what I damn please. (Do remember to stay hydrated, as passing out in a field of hungry people is not a good look on anyone).
The real star of Masticar is the massive market that serves as the nucleus for the entire fair. Here you can get your hands on some of the country’s best produce and products, from fig vinegar to goat cheese from Jujuy to tomate de árbol to quinoa and the list goes on. I had my eye on some blood oranges from Tucumán and loads of spices from Catamarca and Salta, among others.
The next time you want to complain about the lack of diverse food options here in Argentina, take a second and recall everything that was on offer at the Masticar mercado. We really are spoiled for choice, which is perhaps the most remarkable by-product of the greater gastronomic movement that’s revolutionized Argentina in the last several years. Sure, complaining is cool, but it’s even cooler to support local producers and small business owners that strive to deliver top-notch products to their customers.
That’s it, angels. Remember to take it easy, be patient, and go hungry. See you out there!
Feria Masticar will take place through Sunday, September 9th at El Dorrego (Zapiola & Matienzo, Colegiales), from 12PM to 11PM. Tickets bought in advance are AR $130 + service charge or AR $150 at the door. Dishes range from AR $90 – AR $150. For more information visit the website.