As part of their ongoing protest the against the government’s agricultural policies, Argentine farmers declared a seven day moratorium on the sale of beef and grains as of midnight Friday, March 20.
In light of impending meat shortages, my co-adventurers and I were happy to follow the cow to one of taxista Charly’s favorite Buenos Aires steak houses: Siga la Vaca.
One of many parrillas opposite the sausage sandwich stands on the Costanera Norte along the Río de la Plata, Siga la Vaca is where this taxista cum fisherman goes after a hard day of casting his line (Since the river is far too polluted for him to eat anything he catches).
“We were here last Sunday,” he said. ‘We’ being Charly and his fishing buddy, who’s a member of the Club de Pescadores, “We had parrillada (mixed grill) – what we always order.”
Would this latest farmers’ protest threaten Charly’s meat worshiping ritual? What did the taxista think about the battle between the farmers and the Kirchner administration?
“You can’t destroy the most powerful sector of our economy,” he said, “That’s what the government is doing. [I hope] they get voted out as soon as possible.”
With that, the wiry cabbie from the province of Buenos Aires pulled up to Siga la Vaca. It was 9:30pm. Dinner hour had barely started in Buenos Aires, yet every table in the 100-plus seat dining room was occupied. The crowd outside meant that my co-adventurers and I would have to wait 50 minutes before we could test Charly’s recommendation.
Was the restaurant always a madhouse? Or were locals having one last hurrah before the meat market tightens?
Judging by the nonchalance of the grill masters who sweated amidst clouds of smoke and the battalion of female servers in cow-print aprons who buzzed around the dining room, this tidal wave of meat lovers was nothing out of the ordinary.
Meanwhile, spontaneous applause erupted from tables 20 men strong. The grill radiated heat and aromas of burning fat. After nearly an hour, we scored a spot in the middle of the mayhem. Our waitress took our wine order and told us that everything was self-serve, portions unlimited. No wonder Charly likes this place.
We approached the salad bar before commencing our carnivorous communion. Greens glowed with freshness, red peppers soaked in good olive oil, and eggplant marinated in a punchy escabeche. The under-seasoned lechón (suckling pig) was the only disappointment there.
Finally, we bellied up to the grill, where the asadores steered us toward the just-cooked cuts: colita de cuadril (rump steak) and entraña (skirt steak). We also helped ourselves to morcilla (blood sausage) and chorizo sausage and later went back for brochettes.
Though the colita and the entraña were a little too dry for my taste, and 2″ square piece of fat on my brochette was a bit off-putting, the morcilla was at its decadent best here – as was the chorizo. And all of us appreciated the unusual kick in the chimichurri sauce, which we spooned onto everything we could.
We finished off our feast with a nondescript almendrado (vanilla ice cream rolled in toasted almonds), a gelatin-heavy cheesecake with raspberry jam, and a smooth budin de pan con dulce de leche (bread pudding with caramel sauce) that saved the sweet course.
Cursing and blessing taxista Charly, we lugged our bursting bodies into the balmy night. On the ride home, I thought about something Jay Leno once said:
“Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime. Teach a man to create an artificial shortage of fish and he will eat steak.”
But what do we eat in Buenos Aires when man creates an artificial shortage of steak?
Tune in next week to find out.
Siga la Vaca
Avda. Costanera Rafael Obligado 6340 – Costanera Norte
Open: 7 days for lunch and dinner
Price: 40-55 pesos for all you can eat meat, salad and dessert (the price goes up at dinner and on weekends and holidays)