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Food & wine adventures in Chile & Argentina

For the intrepid adventurer, Chile and Argentina present a welcome challenge. The wilds of Patagonia have tall mountains and glaciers to trek, with stunning panoramic landscapes as a reward for the hard work. Many of those landscapes feature beautiful lakes full of beautiful fish to catch. Whether you go by foot, by bike or by horseback, there’s an endless expanse to cover.

If all that activity — or even just reading about it — has you on a desperate hunt for a good meal and a nice drink to wash it down, it’s a good thing you’re already in the right place. Whether in combination with a Patagonian adventure or in lieu of one, this southern part of South America makes for a great culinary journey.

If you’re in Chile, you’re almost certain to be spending some time in Santiago. The capital city has embraced and promoted local cuisines in recent years, taking advantage of the bounty that Chile’s varied temperate zones bear. The country stretches more than 2,500 miles down the Andes from north to south but only 221 miles at its widest point, so there’s a lot of coastline and a lot of mountainous terrain to draw from. That means a lot of fish, a lot of unique fruits and some excellent Bordeaux-style wines to pair with them.

On the Argentinian side, there’s a lot more room to roam, with the pampas grasslands providing excellent grazing for cattle. And, boy, do they love their beef. The gaucho culture is as alluring as cowboy legends in the U.S. With all steak, a nice glass of red wine to pair would really round out an excellent meal. Well, it just so happens that Mendoza province, particularly Lujan de Cuyo and the Uco Valley, produces the world’s best malbecs, along with other world-class varietals. On the eastern slopes of the Andes, the high-altitude vineyards have unique terroir that yields flavorful wines under abundant sunlight.

Keep going east and you’ll find yourself near another coast, on the banks of the wide Rio de la Plata. In Buenos Aires, explore the Recoleta neighborhood, full of cultural spaces and historic monuments, including the Recoleta Cemetery, resting place of Argentina’s elites. Recoleta is where the tango took hold and transformed Argentinian high society, and many of the most famous tango songs reference the neighborhood. You’ll also find plenty of spots to enjoy some barbecue. How’s that for an adventure?

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