Even though I’ll be in Arequipa, Peru, a month from today, I still look back fondly to Argentina, which I visited in 2006 and 2011. In fact, today Martine and I ate dinner at Empanadas Place at Sawtelle and Venice Boulevards in Mar Vista. I had an entraña (skirt steak) sandwich and iced mate cocido, while Martine had two empanadas, one stuffed with spinach and the other chopped beef. It is probably one of our favorite places to eat on L.A.’s West Side; and, according to Martine, the empanadas there were better than what we were served in Argentina. (Of course, the place for empanadas is in Northwest Argentina around Salta and Tucumán.)
In addition to Empanadas Place, there is a very good Argentinean restaurant on Main Street in Culver City: the Grand Casino Bakery & Café. We go there several times a year.
I have come to love drinking yerba mate tea and—very occasionally—sneaking some alfajores cookies filled with dulce de leche. My two visits to the Southern Cone of South America have resulted in a series of cravings I have yet to fill. Although we saw a good part of Patagonia, I have yet to go to Carmen de Patagones, Viedma, San Carlos de Bariloche, and Esquel. (In 2011, there was a major volcanic eruption at Puyehue and Cordon Caulle in the Chilean Andes which covered several whole states of Patagonia with ash—so we went to El Calafate instead to see the glaciers.)
To be sure, when I return from Peru, I will be haunted by my desire for Peruvian food. Fortunately, there are also Peruvian restaurants in L.A.; but I am sure it is but a pale shadow of what I will be eating next month. Plus, I will no doubt miss interacting with the Quechua and Aymara peoples of the Peruvian altiplano.