Vast ranches, varied terrain, a love of beef and cosmopolitan cities — yes, sometimes it seems like Texas and Argentina are twins separated at birth.
But this month you don't have to book tickets to Buenos Aires to indulge in the culture and food from Latin America's most European country. Central Market's "Passport to Argentina,"which starts on Wednesday and continues through May 25, features cooking classes, tastings, and celebrity chefs and winemakers with a background in the region, including Francis Mallmann, South America's leading authority on traditional family-style grilling; and Susana Balbo, dubbed the first lady of Argentine wine.
The calendar has multiple daily events, ranging from cooking classes for individuals, kids and couples to wine tastings, Argentine happy hour festivities, wine dinners with illustrious Argentine guests and one evening of grilling under a giant tent. The full schedule is available at the Central Market Web site, but here are a few highlights:
- May 12, 7:30 p.m.: Showing of Tango: The Movie at Studio Movie Grill in CityCentre. A Carlos Saura film, Tango was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Film in 1999.
- May 13, 6:30 p.m.: Wine Dinner with Susana Balbo. Enjoy Argentine specialties prepared by the cooking school staff and sample the award-winning Crios Torrontes, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon while Balbo talks about her winery in Mendoza.
- May 14, 6:30 p.m.: Wine Dinner with Laura Catena. Catena will share her story of growing up in the wine industry over a three-course meal and serving samples of her Luca Chardonnay, Malbec, Pinot and flagship wine Nico.
- May 15, 6:30 p.m.: Wines and Food of Mendoza with Chef Diego Coll Benegas. Benegas will display his signature traditional Argentine dishes updated with flavors from around the world, to be paired with Trivento wines.
- May 17: Picada with Robert Pepi, Bianchi Winery: Picada is Argentine happy hour, and this festive presentation will feature a tango demonstration, an light buffet of Argentine appetizers and Bianchi wines.
- May 20, 6:30 p.m.: Cooking With Fire with Francis Mallmann. Fans of Bourdain's No Reservations will remember Mallmann as the pre-eminant chef who quit his job and headed to the countryside to get back to the original open-fire grilling custom. He's bringing this sensibility to Central Market with a giant tent of outdoor Argentine grilled specialties, including a 7.5-hour roasted lamb.
- May 21, 6:30 p.m.: Winemaker's Dinner with Sebastian Zuccardi. Over a meal of casual classics including sliders, pizza and beef ribs from the Pampas paired with Zuccardi wines and conversation.
- May 22: Cooking Class with Narda Lepes. Argentine TV host and cookbook author will lead in the preparation of dishes from her homeland.
And because no trip to Argentina is complete without a little tango, here's Central Market's specially-created tango playlist: