Art Basel Asado: a review December 16, 2010

Happy New Year, everyone.  I wanted to get a review of the Gaucho Garcia launch party up earlier, but editing photos and putting together my first video took a bit more time than expected.  Nonetheless, here is a short review.  In addition to the photos included in the post, I have posted the entire photo album from the event on the Gaucho Garcia Facebook page.

Overall, the event was a success.  We could not have asked for better weather.  The entire Art Basel weekend was blessed with perfect mid-70s weather and sun.  It was a perfect afternoon for the asado.  The two dozen or so guest came throughout various portions of the afternoon.  I purchased most all of the anticipated menu which I posted in my Nov. 22 preview post for the event. I did leave off the Iberico ham and pears and used Atlantic Salmon rather than Coho.  In all, however, it proved to be a bit too much food as I had some items that I left in the fridge.

Some things I learned cooking for almost 25-people:

  • I decided to use two fires for this event.  I have two portable fire pits placed new my parrilla.  Normally, I use just one, but since I wanted to constantly have coals ready, I alternated the use of two pits.  These portable pits come in various shapes, sizes, and prices.  I have this one and one similar to this.  I actually prefer the former (the round one) because it seems easier to scoop the coals.  The double fire proved to be a good idea.  It took a bit more work to get both going but maintaining them was relatively easy and I always had coals ready to use.
  • The "rolling invitation" is very easy for guests to attend an asado at their leisure.  However, it doesn't make for the best presentation of food.  Much of the beef, especially the entrana and the vacio, don't taste nearly as good unless they are hot off the grill.  Some of my guests arrived after these had been off the grill for a while.  The best course of action, I'm learning, is to be very specific about the time you serve the meal so guests can have the best possible experience with the food.
  • I had a really tough time cooking the mollejas (sweetbreads).  I tried boiling them in salted water for 5 minutes before grilling and some of them I did not blanch.  Neither seemed to do the trick, so I think my heat may have been off.  Will need to experiment more with these.
  • The "Papaya Alegre" dessert as well as Fernet-Branca were both excellent post-meal digestive aids.  The Papaya Alegre dessert basically involves de-seeding and cutting up chunks of papaya.  Then, some pisco and orange juice are mixed together and pour over the papaya chunks.  This is topped with whipped cream.  There are well-known digestive enzymes in papaya which aid in the digestion of meat...perfect light dessert to end the meal.  Fernet, one of my favorite drinks, is a digestif produced in Milan, but popular in Argentina as well.

The provoleta continues to be a huge hit and the variety of wines people are bringing to the asados is outstanding.  It really gives everyone a chance to see which pair best with the meat.  I will definitely have to dedicate a post to wines and asado in the near future.

Overall, everyone had a great time sharing in a lengthy meal together.