Wine Country in the Big City

In winter, it’s quiet in Mendoza – temperatures drop, winemakers focus on protecting their grapes from occasional snowfall, visitors pass through on their way to ski resorts in the Andes. It’s the perfect moment for the region’s culinary talents to escape for a few weeks and bring their olive oil and Bonarda to the tables of Buenos Aires.

Case in point: Zuccardi at the Palacio Duhau. Starting this week and extending through August 24th, a pair of creative young chefs – one from Familia Zuccardi’s Casa del Visitante in Mendoza, the other of the elegant Gioia restaurant at the Palacio Duhau–Park Hyatt, perhaps the grandest hotel in Buenos Aires – team up to present a special four-course menu with wine pairings.

Entrance-to-Gioia

Entrance to Gioia – photo courtesy of Bridget Gleeson

Gourmet collaboration

A few years ago, during a trip to Mendoza, I stopped at Zuccardi’s visitor center to take a cooking class. It was a lovely, highly recommendable experience that involved picking herbs from the garden and baking empanadas in an outdoor adobe oven, views of the snow-capped Andes off in the distance. So I was curious to see what Chef Matias Aldasoro would bring to the city, and to taste his collaboration with Gioia’s Chef Pedro Tassarolo.

Palacio-Duhau

View of Palacio Duhau – photo courtesy of Bridget Gleeson

What he brought is wine, of course – a springlike series of Pinot-Chardonnay, Pinot-Rosé, and Bonarda from Zuccardi’s Alma 4 line – and bottles of the winery’s rich and flavorful Novello olive oil, served with freshly baked bread.

Zuccardi-wines

Zuccardi wines – photo courtesy of Bridget Gleeson

The tasting menu that follows is a collaborative effort reflecting the seasonal produce of the chefs’ respective regions. The first course is a knockout – pistachio-encrusted trout served with goat cheese and savory tomato marmalade – succeeded by an aesthetically pleasing second course, portobello- and ricotta-stuffed ravioli topped with flower petals. Save some of your appetite for the main course, impossibly tender braised chivito (kid), finishing with a dessert of dark chocolate pound cake served with raspberry sorbet, white chocolate cream, and, interestingly, a drizzle of the Novello olive oil.

Ravioli-dish

Ravioli dish – photo courtesy of Bridget Gleeson

Mendoza meets Buenos Aires

Lingering over a feast like this while looking out at views of the Palacio Duhau’s gorgeous central garden and the glamorous facade of the original mansion, completed in 1932, is a unique treat. It’s a taste of the leisurely pleasures of Mendoza in the cosmopolitan context of Buenos Aires – and, thanks to the fresh fish, vibrant flowers, and flutes of romantic Rosé – a taste of spring around the corner.

The Familia Zuccardi – Gioia collaboration runs through August 24th at Gioia Restaurante & Terrazas.

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