Masters of Food and Wine is an annual conference of foodies held in Carmel for twenty years – until it moved to Mendoza in 2007. This year’s Masters of Food and Wine made a huge splash in Argentine wine country. The party that kicked off the week of wine, cheese, and culinary delights was held at the Hyatt’s Palacio Duhau in Buenos Aires’ elegant neighborhood of Recoleta.
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Jose Gonzalez is talking to the crowd. He’s funny and entertaining and obviously at ease. As a fan of the Swedish singer-songwriter, who has seen him in concert a few times, I ask myself, “Is this the same artist who performs in monosyllables to solemn, packed houses?” I wonder, “Is it his new look?” His hair has undergone a dramatic change that makes him look all the more Argentine. For reasons beyond his long curls, I decide that it’s Argentina making the difference for this Swede of Mendoza heritage.
Walking in the city of Buenos Aires is visual entertainment – from street scenes of tango dancers and stands of arts and crafts to breath-taking architecture, the city delivers significant sights to see. A personal favorite is graphics – from advertising to murals and window dressing. The city is a unique combination of the First and Third world and of Latin and European influences. This mix shows through in its signs and symbols that seem to complement the city’s culture. Even the figures in the “walk/don’t walk” signals have there own personal style, with a more robust, macho look than their North American counterparts. Maybe it’s the steak?
Argentines like to own country homes. In a nation where banks were recently the bad guys who didn’t let you withdraw your own funds, real estate makes for a convenient investment. From modest to lavish, it’s customary for those who are able to invest in a second home outside of the city. If you happen to be visiting Buenos Aires and would like to get away for a day in the countryside, you can follow the local tradition and drive an hour or so out of town along the river to relax in meadows amongst the trees.
Pinamar is considered to be the high-brow choice for beach goers on the Atlantic coast. A five-hour, luxury bus ride away from Buenos Aires, Pinamar boasts a wide, dune-covered beach replete with balnearios (beach bars/nightclubs), a shopping center, and steak houses. Pinamar is no Punta Del Este — true there are some beautiful homes along the beach reminiscent of Cannes, Malibu or any other affluent coastal destination, but Pinamar is most of all a clean, relaxing alternative to its neighbors Mar Del Plata and Villa Gesell. It’s commercial enough to be accessible to tourists and pristine enough to offer ideal refuge from the city.