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Feria Masticar 2019 Preview: What to Eat, Drink, and Buy

The 10th edition of the fair kicks off Thursday and runs through next Monday.

By | [email protected] | August 12, 2019 1:31pm

feria_masticar_1.png_1866758231Photo via El Cronista
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Can we take a break from politics for like, one minute, maybe? As Argentina tries to assimilate the shocking results of yesterday’s PASO primaries – in which Alberto Fernández earned more than 47 percent of the vote, crushing Macri’s hopes of re-election – let’s not forget that there are *other things* going on this week. Like the tenth edition of Feria Masticar, for example. Argentina’s leading food and drink festival extravaganza will once again take over El Dorrego in Colegiales from Thursday, August 15th until Sunday, August 18th.

This definitely isn’t our first rodeo, and we know that if you’re going to have a successful go at Masticar, you’ve got to put together a plan. And because we love you, we’re giving you a bit of a cheat sheet. Also, anything that serves as an excuse to not read any more politics or economy news is fine by us. Read on for our shortlist guide to eating and drinking your way through Masticar 2019. 

Advance tickets to the fair cost AR $160 (plus service charge for purchasing online) or AR $200 at the door – we strongly advise you buy them ahead of time unless you enjoy wasting precious hours of your life waiting in line. HSBC clients receive 20 percent off. Masticar 2019 will be open on Thursday, August 18th from 2 PM to 11PM and Friday through Sunday from 12 PM to 11 PM.

What to Eat

First of all, this year there are plenty of new arrivals joining in on the fun – hello, Proper, Anafe, Gran Dabbang, Club M Omakase, Siamo nel Forno, and more – and each puesto will share its spot with a special invited guest. This is great news because it means the offering has been thoroughly shaken up and you won’t be faced with the same old dishes that you might have in past editions. Of course, it’s great to have continuity and to expect certain faves to make a triumphant return, but it’s only fitting that the 10th installment of Masticar up the ante in every way possible.

Elena

It’s August. It’s cold, it’s damp, it’s hard to get outside and put on a happy face sometimes. Elena at the Four Seasons is here for you, angel. Dive into a big bowl of lamb curry with coconut chutney and a side paratha to scoop up all that aromatic goodness while you’re at it. The dish – created by guest Gran Dabbang – will cost you AR $200 and will give you the strength you need to roam the rest of the fair.

Narda Comedor

Finally – FINALLY! – Asian cuisine is getting its due spot in the Argentine milieu. Narda Comedor brought on Chinatown faves Hong Kong Style as its special guest, and the dish they’ll be serving up is a classic hot and sour soup. For just AR $150 you’ll be treated to a generous bowl of the ultimate comfort food-hangover cure mashup. Seriously, it’s about damn time we stop listening to Mafalda and start riding the soup train.

Chila

Not everyone can afford the big ticket meal at Puerto Madero’s Chila. It’s certainly a sensorial experience you won’t soon forget – oh, and chef Pedro Bargero is one serious hunk of man candy  – but again, we’re poor and can barely afford to pay rent. Fret not! One of Chila’s coolest offerings at this year’s Masticar is a savory alfajor made with morcilla and charqui. That’s right, a meaty, iron-rich wildcard for your palate, at just AR $100. It’s not what you expect, which is what makes it so freaking good.

Osaka

You’ll find Osaka’s spot without much trouble: just look for the extra-long line. That’s right, we’re calling it now. This is guaranteed to be one of the biggest revelaciones of Masticar 2019. Our favorite bite? The Ebi Mentaico: a prawn nigiri topped with a creamy sauce of spicy Peruvian peppers. You’ll get two hearty bites for AR $100, but no one will judge you if you head back for seconds.

Puratierra

For some reason, Puratierra is always one of my Masticar favorites. It’s probably because the Belgrano-based restaurant creates sophisticated dishes with high-quality Argentine ingredients, which is kind of what the fair is all about. This year don’t miss the slow-cooked wild boar with quinoa risotto and saffron from Mendoza. A veritable gem of a dish for just AR $200.

El Baqueano

I know I said that I was happy to see some fresh blood and new propuestas take center stage, but El Baqueano’s iconic yacaré (yes, alligator) empanada is always one of the highlights of the Masticar experience. One will set you back just AR $60 but if you spring for two, it will cost AR $100. Also keep an eye out for the goat taco with quince, fennel, and mbeyú (a Paraguayan cake made with mandioca) for AR $200.

Green Bamboo

More Asian delights! Green Bamboo has been in business for more than 20 years, no small feat in the ever-changing landscape that is the Buenos Aires restaurant industry. Celebrate their inclusion in the Masticar 2019 roster by noshing on chicken curry with coconut milk, lemongrass, and peanut. It’ll be served with rice, mandioca, potato and fried batatas, giving you a real bang for your buck at just AR $200.

What to Drink

It’s not all food, all the the time at Masticar. There are plenty of bevvies on offer that will keep you hydrated, buzzed, and ready to last for hours (well, until you need to find a bathroom. Yikes). From cocktails to craft beer to wine, there is pretty much something for everyone. However, with all the talk and focus on hyper-local producers, organic ingredients, and small businesses in the food realm, it *would* be nice if the same applied to the wine element of the fair. I know, I know, sometimes you need to bring in the big guns in order to subsidize the little guys, but let’s hope that next year there’s a more coherent and balanced approach as a whole.

878

Hot on the heels of its quinceañera, 878 is back once again to give your liver a tickle in between all the snackies. Opt for a five o’clock gin and tonic (AR $150) if you fancy, or opt between a Ron Fashioned, Uco Punch, or El Conde Marianito Negroni (after all, this classic cocktail just celebrated its 100th anniversary!). These latter drinkies will set you back AR $200.

Julep by Inés de los Santos

Inés is the undisputed queen mother of Argentina’s coctelería, and her cart of potent potables is another Masticar staple. If you want to enjoy something without alcohol but infinitely more interesting than agua sin gas, go for the Matelada: yerba mate with fresh kumquat juice and lemon verbena simple syrup (AR $100). If you’re a boozebag like yours truly and always in a constant state of semi-hangover, treat yourself to a Bloody Sanguíneo (Sunday only), with Grey Goose, cherry tomato juice, blood orange, mustard leaf juice and spices (AR $200).

Wine Bar

There’s an entire section inside El Dorrego dedicated to vino at Masticar, featuring the biggest and best bodegas with which most of you are intimately familiar. This year, the Probemos Vino area will have wine experts on hand to suggest ideal pairings depending on what dishes and treats you’re planning to try. They will also host tastings and explain each wine in detail. Just try not to get too sloppy, okcurr?

What to Buy

The marketplace at Masticar will be bigger than ever this year, meaning you get more chances to stock up on a dizzying array of Argentine produce and products that ensure your belly is full well beyond the close of the fair. If you’ve been struggling to find organic fruit and veg (because you’re lazy, it’s OK, I understand), are looking for niche spices, artisanal cheeses, gluten-free flours, and more, this is where you’ll want to hang out. Don’t leave your market visit to the end, when you might have run out of steam. Bring extra reusable bags and enlist the help of a buddy if you end up buying too much. You won’t regret it. Well, maybe you will, but whatever.

Don Cirilo

Calling all spice freaks: Don Cirilo is here for you. No longer will you be allowed to complain about a dearth of heat in Buenos Aires, so consider yourselves warned. Stock up on jalapeños, habaneros, ghost pepper, Carolina reaper, long Thai, kitucho, and more. Coming all the way from Colonia Santa Rosa in Salta, this stand will give you all the Scoville units you can handle – and probably tons more, too.

Zenfrut

Looking for galangal, ginger, maracuyá, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, turmeric, or horseradish? Find all that and more at Zenfrut. Hailing from Jardín America, Misiones in Argentina’s northeastern rainforest, this stand really ups the “exotic” ante and will make it easier for you to prepare your favorite zesty, spicy, magical recipes at home.

Aceites del Desierto

Think outside the olive. Life is short and the world is ending, so why don’t you try some new oils? You’ll be like the Bubba Gump of oils: pumpkin oil, brown mustard oil, shiso oil, walnut oil, almond oil, sesame oil, peanut oil… even pistachio oil. The producers behind this operation come from Santa Catalina, Córdoba and clearly care a LOT about aceites. So knock yourself out and discover an entirely new world that awaits you.

Juan Grande

Cheeeeeese, Gromit. There will be loads of fantastic cheese producers at Masticar, so you truly will be spoiled for choice. But we like Juan Grande’s operation which comes from Lincoln, in the province of Buenos Aires. Stuff your bag full of cuartirolo, halloumi, and feta, and then run off into the sunset as you realize all of your dairy dreams have come true.

Mar Picado

Serving up fish on a platter – literally – Mar Picado brings you briny goodness straight from the port of Mar del Plata. If you’re craving some extra Omega 3, buy their anchovies or boquerones (a classic treat whenever you’re down on the costa argentina). I just had an idea! Show your cat that you love her by picking up an extra tin so she doesn’t feel left out. Does this seem like a totally crazy idea to you? Sorry about it.

Sobre el Monte

Share this tip with the asador in your friend group: you can get sustainable firewood (!?) from Suncho Corral in Santiago del Estero. To be totally honest, I didn’t even know this was a thing, but apparently it is. And it’s awesome! The wood isn’t taken from trees chopped down for that purpose, but rather recollected from what’s already fallen. The goal is to encourage sustainable development and biodiversity among Argentina’s bosques which are falling victim to deforestation at alarming rates.

Alfar

Ugh, I have a serious obsession with artisanal ceramics. Like, I have spent more money than I’d like to admit on absolutely gorgeous bowls, coffee cups, plates, and more. And you know what? I think you should, too. Support the artists from Tierra del Fuego who create the most jaw-dropping kitchenware and dishes. If you’re looking for a unique housewarming gift or just want to treat yourself to something nice, make sure you stop here at some point.