Our Winter Vacation in Argentina

by Anjali @ The Picky Eater on January 9, 2013

Hi Everyone - happy new year!

As you probably know, I’ve been gone for the past few weeks because the husband and I (and a couple friends) went to Argentina over the holidays. It was an amazing trip – filled with wonderful food, wine, funny travel mishaps, and absolutely gorgeous scenery.

The trip to Argentina from SFO is a long one: at least 24 hours, and in our case (because of many, many delays) – 48 hours! But once we got to Mendoza, our first destination, it was totally worth it.

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That was the walkway to the little villa we stayed at in Mendoza: Casa Glebinias. Mendoza is the heart of Argentina’s wine country, and Casa Glebinias is nestled right in the Lujan wine region – an oasis next to all of the wineries.

Mendoza casa

The husband and I love Malbecs, and we couldn’t wait for our wine tour the next day. But since we were starving after our long trip to Mendoza, we headed out into the nearby town (Chacras de Coria) in search of food.

We ended up at this awesome wine bar: Hand of God - where we proceeded to order every Vegetarian dish on the menu and a flight of wines :)

Mendoza first dinner

Fresh pumpkin soup; a salad with greens, caramelized onions, grilled tomatoes and burratta; a flatbread with veggies and melted cheese; freshly baked bread; and some of the best red wines ever made this the perfect welcoming meal to Mendoza.

It totally hit the spot, and I was very happy.

When we walked back to our villa, we were greeted with the most gorgeous evening light shining through the trees, and I couldn’t believe that we got to stay in this house for the next few days:

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It looked like an impressionist painting!

The next day, we headed out on our wine tour (from this awesome company – Trout & Wine). We toured the Lujan region we were already in, but they have other tours going to the other wine regions in Mendoza as well. The wines in the Lujan region were really impressive. We went to: Catena Zapata, Vina Cobos, Club Tapiz (which included a 4 course lunch with wine pairings that I’ll get to in a bit), and Alta Vista.

The tour was super relaxed: we ended up spending 1.5-2 hours at each winery touring the grounds, learning about their wines, and tasting all kinds of wines (there’s more to Mendoza than Malbecs!)

One thing that struck me was that the wineries in the Lujan region have really interesting, modern architecture. Each building was extremely unique, and we couldn’t stop taking pictures. Here are a few of my favorites:

Mendoza wineries

There is so much space in the Lujan region, so it doesn’t feel as crowded as Napa or some of the other wine regions we’ve been to. The views from the wineries were incredible as well.

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I was really happy with the food (and the Vegetarian options) in Mendoza. Our lunch at Club Tapiz was no exception. We were seated in a private room overlooking the entire winery:

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And our lunch consisted of: a cold arugula and herb soup with freshly made croutons; a beet and carrot salad with a balsamic reduction, and an Asian stir fry which ended up being super, super flavorful!

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Dessert (which I ended up eating too quickly and forgot to take a picture of) was a Marscapone ice cream topped with meringue and chocolate cookie crumbles, with fresh berries sprinkled throughout. It was light, refreshing, and oh-so-sweet.

Our tour pretty much lasted all day, and by the time we got back, we were full and satisfied. For dinner, we ended up eating homemade empanadas and hot chocolate courtesy of the owners at Casa Glebinias.

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It was a great, warm ending to our stay there. I honestly wished we could have stayed there longer – the couple who runs and owns this B&B-esque place were the nicest people – they were inviting, helpful, welcoming, and made our stay there super relaxing.

After Mendoza, we headed to Bariloche – which is in the northern part of Patagonia. It has a “Swiss Alps” feel to it, with a lot of Swiss, German and Italian influences in the town.

We stayed at Llao Llao - a hotel that was literally surrounded by beautiful lakes and nestled against the Andes mountains.

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The first day we were in Bariloche, it rained and was cloudy most of the day. So we took a drive to a few scenic points where the misty mountains and fog made me feel like we were in Lord of the Rings.

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Even with the clouds it was still pretty majestic. But luckily we got great weather for the rest of our stay. While we were in Bariloche, we went on some beautiful hikes, went horseback riding through the mountains, learned archery (which was so cool!), and took a boat to hike around some of the islands in Bariloche (Victoria Island and the Arrayanes Forest).

While we were on the boat to Victoria Island, these seagulls started following us, and the husband took about 100 pictures of them :) Here is one of my favorites:

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When we arrived at Victoria Island, we were in awe of the breathtaking views.

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bariloche - island excursion

Our last hike on the island ended up being a pretty steep uphill climb, but then we were rewarded with this:

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I just couldn’t believe how amazing it was.

On the boat ride back to Llao Llao, we met a few other American tourists (from Chicago and Philly), and ended up having a really fun dinner with all of them that night at Dias de Zapata: Veggie-friendly Mexican food that actually was pretty good!

Another restaurant we absolutely loved (and ate at twice for dinner) was Il Gabbiano. Delicious, authentic, flavorful Italian food – where the pasta is made in-house and the ambiance is warm and cozy. The husband, me and two of our friends literally had 4 hour dinners there both nights we went (although, 4 hour late dinners became the norm during our trip!)

Our last day in Bariloche was spent mostly relaxing, and for dinner we went to Cassis. They created a 5 course Vegetarian meal made with ingredients from their own garden. It was fantastic.

Cassis is located right on the lake, overlooking the mountains. We could see their flower garden from one side of our table, and the lake from the other.

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We were greeted with a complimentary glass of Sparkling wine, with little tiny flowers as a garnish!

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Before our first course, we were given their freshly baked bread basket (their breads were amazing), and an amuse bouche: a mushroom/cream/foam.

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Our first course was a cold sorrel soup, with two mini cheese biscuits. The sorrel soup was one of the most unique things I’ve ever tasted. It had hints of apple, pear, citrus and greens. So refreshing!

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Our second course was a salad made with greens and flowers from their garden, served in a little Parmesan crisp cup.

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A palate cleanser came next: Grapefruit sorbet.

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Our main course were these perfectly formed house-made ravioli with ricotta and marscapone creme. They were like little pillows of happiness that melted in my mouth.

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Dessert ended up being two courses for us: first, profiteroles with vanilla ice cream and an almond brittle crumble on top.

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Next, a dulce de leche mousse with caramel, dark chocolate gelato, and lavender sea salt.

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Both desserts were incredible, and the dulce de leche mousse was really unique.

And with that, our time in Bariloche came to an end.

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Next we were off to Buenos Aires, where we rented an apartment with a couple of our friends in the Palermo Soho neighborhood – a boho-chic type of area with great restaurants, nice parks and tons of shops.

Our apartment ended up being a great find: it was really spacious, on the 29th floor, and was literally surrounded by windows. So, as you can imagine, the view was incredible!

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Each day in Buenos Aires was spent exploring a new neighborhood – from the street market and Tango in San Telmo…

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To the famous Opera House in the city center, the port (Puerto Madero) at night, and the Presidential house at Plaza de Mayo (which is pink!)

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We also spent a ton of time wandering through the Recoleta and Palmero neighborhoods, running through all of the parks in the area as well as the Ecological Reserve, and visiting Boca – one of the more historical areas known for Tango that has beautifully colored buildings.

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We also went to a Tango show and then had a Tango lesson (thanks to We are Tango), and we had pretty good dinners most nights.

Some of the highlights included:

1) Casa Felix: a dining experience that’s a must-do if you’re in Buenos Aires. Several months out of the year, the Felix’s open the doors of their private home and invite up to 15 dinner guests to a pescetarian tasting menu inspired by Latin American spices, aromas and ingredients (they also do Vegan and Vegetarian menus upon request). The menu changes weekly according to the availability of local ingredients, many of which are grown in the backyard garden. The evenings begin at 9:30pm in the garden with cocktails and passed hors d’oeuvres progressing to the intimate, but causal, dining setting where guests are served a 5 course dinner menu, with optional wine pairings. The food was inventive, flavorful, and delicious.

2) Marcelo: decent Italian food, with huge portions, located on the port. It was a bit touristy, but was still a great meal for New Year’s Day (especially since most restaurants were closed that day so our options were limited!)

3) Tandoor: surprisingly awesome Indian food, where we also spent New Years Eve. They really did a great job – the restaurant turned into a huge party around midnight. We ended up dancing in the street with the locals as a result!

4) Kensho: organic, vegan, raw cuisine in the heart of Palermo Hollywood. Our last dinner in Buenos Aires, and a wonderful experience. I took photos because the food was so interesting I couldn’t resist! The restaurant itself is small – seats only about 20 people so we were happy we had a reservation.

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Our dinner started with a freshly made berry smoothie – the first (and only) fresh juice we had had on the trip!

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We were given this awesome black bean spread and freshly baked bread while we waited for our appetizers and entrees. I could have kept eating the black bean spread for dinner – it was that good.

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Our first appetizer was a mushroom “ceviche” made with portobello, shiitake and oyster mushrooms marinated Peruvian style, served with a variety of Andean potatoes and ocopa sauce.

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Our second was a trio of dips served with pita chips: a carrot foam,  black bean “guacamole” and walnut pâté.

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The husband ordered the Mushroom Burger with mashed potatoes, “criolla” salad and mustard sauce – which was seriously one of the best veggie burgers either of us had ever had. It was delicious.

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I ordered the “Tabbouleh Inca” made with quinoa, seasonal vegetables, mint, walnuts and almonds, served with raw falafel and tahini. It was filling and felt like something I’d make at home, which was a nice change of pace from the heavier restaurant food we had been having on the trip.

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We didn’t have room for dessert, so we headed home earlier than usual from dinner to enjoy our last night in our apartment.

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We were so lucky to end up in the apartment and area where we stayed. Most of the restaurants we ate at were within walking distance, and we had the good fortune of getting some breathtaking sunsets that we could enjoy from our balcony.

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All in all, it was an incredible trip in a diverse and interesting country. Spending winter in Argentina was the perfect time to go – it was super warm, perfect weather, and not too crowded. We didn’t have too much trouble finding good Vegetarian restaurants to eat at throughout our trip, and everyone we met was really friendly. Definitely an experience I will never forget!

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{ 48 comments… read them below or add one }

Casey January 9, 2013 at 11:26 pm

Gorgeous photos and an awesome story! This definitely makes me want to visit Argentina.

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater January 10, 2013 at 12:15 am

Aw thanks Casey! So glad you enjoyed this post. It really was a cool country to visit – there’s so many different types of activities you can do there – I’d highly recommend going if you get the chance!

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Paige @ Your Trainer Paige January 10, 2013 at 7:50 am

Hi Anjali!
Oh my goodness, this looks like the trip of a lifetime! Your pictures are absolutely incredible, too. From the drinks to the food to the views – oh my! I especially love the picture with the birds and the ocean.

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater January 11, 2013 at 5:59 pm

Hi Paige! Thank you so much! :) I’m so glad you liked the photos. My husband will be happy that you liked his seagulls/ocean picture – he was really dedicated to getting a perfect shot!

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Liz Eiss January 10, 2013 at 9:29 am

wow oh wow! My husband and I love to travel! I am a Spanish teacher therefore going to South America is definitely on the bucket list. My question is: Did you plan this trip yourselves or go through a travel agent?

Thanks so much for sharing! I MUST go there now xo

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater January 11, 2013 at 6:00 pm

Thank you so much Liz!! It sounds like you and your husband are a lot like us – we absolutely love to travel :) We plan all of our trips ourselves – Google and Trip Advisor have basically become our virtual travel agent. Hope that helps!!

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Linda | The Urban Mrs January 10, 2013 at 9:42 am

What a lovely vacation! You definitely had a great time over there and it made me want to visit Argentina, too. So, will you be posting tango moves? :)

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater January 11, 2013 at 6:04 pm

Haha – I wish I had a video of the Tango lesson – it would definitely be entertaining to watch :) If you end up going to Argentina you have to learn Tango – it was a lot of fun!

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Hungry Globetrotter January 10, 2013 at 9:47 am

Whaa?! Argentina sans steak? It’s ok, you can tell us if you fell off the wagon. (joking).

Great pictures! Looks like you had a lovely time. Welcome back

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater January 11, 2013 at 6:01 pm

Hahahah well…. actually… :) Just kidding. I think things have really changed a lot in Argentina – we found quite a bit of Veggie food – everyone was so accommodating! We really had a great time – can’t wait to see you guys soon!

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Elizabeth@ Food Ramblings January 10, 2013 at 11:59 am

wow– amazing views– from the scenery to the food to the wine. what a great trip- thanks for sharing :)

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater January 11, 2013 at 6:05 pm

Thank you so much Elizabeth!! So glad you enjoyed this post :)

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RUTH January 10, 2013 at 2:32 pm

I am amazed at the details of your post, I really love that you could capture the magic of Argentina in it. I am originally from there but I didn’t get to know it that well, I will keep your post as a reference to visit those wonderful places some day.

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater January 11, 2013 at 6:08 pm

Wow, thank you so much, that’s quite a compliment from someone who is from Argentina! You are so sweet Ruth :) I really loved our visit there – if you ever do go back you must explore more of the country – it’s such a unique place!

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Anna January 10, 2013 at 5:04 pm

Wow, that looks like an amazing trip! I have been craving a trip to Argentina for the past few years! I’ll have to reference this when I finally make it out there!

I moved to Miami this summer and the Peruvian restaurants here are really making me wish I could have a vegetarian ceviche- it always looks so fresh and delicious! Did you like the mushroom one? I’ve been looking for one but haven’t found anything that has inspired me yet…

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater January 11, 2013 at 6:10 pm

Thanks Anna!! I hope you do get a chance to make a trip out there – it’s totally worth it! You know, I did like the mushroom one – I thought it was really different and interesting. I wouldn’t say it was perfect, but it was pretty good. Given that I’ve never had regular ceviche I can’t compare – but this one was refreshing and flavorful and was a great appetizer to start our meal.

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Raksha Shah January 10, 2013 at 5:53 pm

Amazing trip and great photography!!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater January 11, 2013 at 6:06 pm

Awww thank you so much!! :)

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eisha January 12, 2013 at 7:51 am

OMG! Anjali you really captured the beauty of Argentina! I want to go now :) Especially to the markets!
I’m so happy you got to celebrate your holidays with a vacation! it seems you had a really amazing time with great food and hikes! You and your husband look so cute together too! <3

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater January 12, 2013 at 5:21 pm

Hehe thanks Eisha!! I’m sure you will love Argentina if you end up going there. Omg the markets were so great – there was tango in the streets, all kinds of artwork, and street food. We ended up picking up this really cute, small piece of art that’s now sitting on our bookshelf. It was so much fun exploring everything there!

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Alison January 13, 2013 at 11:23 am

I have just discover your blog Anjali while looking for a curried cauliflower soup recipe. I love your photos of Argentina, I was there 22 years ago, and loved it too!
I look forward to trying many of your recipes, especially the Indian ones. Thank you.

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater January 15, 2013 at 12:02 am

Thank you so much Alison! It’s so nice to meet you! I’m sure you will love my Indian recipes – let me know how they turn out for you!

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Daryle Dickens January 13, 2013 at 3:14 pm

Great article! This is what every travel post should look like. Thanks so much for sharing your trip!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater January 15, 2013 at 12:02 am

Anytime! Thanks for your kind words Daryle! :)

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Serena January 13, 2013 at 4:10 pm

I love your pictures of Argentina…It’s a lovely place and the food is great too! I am a new blogger, here is my blog if anyone like to have a look: http://foodfulife.wordpress.com
Thank you for sharing your lovely pictures and recipes!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater January 15, 2013 at 12:03 am

Thanks Serena! So glad you enjoyed this post :) Congrats on starting your own blog as well!

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dani* January 13, 2013 at 6:45 pm

I’ve found your blog through the chana masala, and fell in love with your banana bread oatmeal (will have it this week). Your blog is going to slowly drive me towards a more healthy life, for me & my beloved man, we are both very worried about what we eat everyday. Thank you SO much.
I was born and raised in Argentina, and it was such a pleasure to read this post. I live in the US now, but adore my homeland, so you could imagine how wonderful it is to read about it.
Cheers!
dani*

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater January 15, 2013 at 12:06 am

Hi Dani! Thank you so much for your kind words – I’m so happy that I can help you and your man eat healthier! I’m sure you will love the banana bread oatmeal and I can’t wait to hear how both of you like the rest of my recipes :) I’m glad I could give you a virtual trip back to your homeland as well – we absolutely loved our time in Argentina!

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Lares de Chacras Boutique Hotel January 16, 2013 at 5:20 am

Anjali great trip and amazing photos! We are a hotel from Chacras de Coria (Mendoza) and we are always happy to know all the travelers that visited our land enjoyed our wine, food and mountains!
We thank your for sharing your experience so other people can read it and hopefully wish to come an visit us!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater January 17, 2013 at 10:31 pm

Thank you so much! I’m so glad you liked this post. We really had a wonderful time in Mendoza and the rest of Argentina! :)

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San Diego Foodies January 20, 2013 at 4:19 am

Wonderful! The details of your story and gorgeous photos presents the whole Argentina to your readers. Indeed, you never got there unless you’ve tasted the food. And the wine of course! You’re not really a picky eater, are you? Thanks and have a wonderful year!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater January 22, 2013 at 8:24 am

Thank you so much! I totally agree with you – the food and wine there were great! And haha – good question :) I am a picky eater, but I like to apply a different definition of what being a “picky eater” means. To me, it’s about being picky about the types of foods you put into your body – focusing on healthy, whole foods, and delicious meals that are full of flavor (vs. fast or processed food). You can read more about my philosophy about what it means to be a “picky eater” here. Hope you have a great year too!

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Debbie January 21, 2013 at 5:35 pm

I so enjoyed reading your blog about Argentina. I have been there once, but for just a short visit after Chile. I have alway wanted to go back, and after reading your blog, it is at the top of my list. Your photographs are absolutely beautiful and you have so much great information that will be so useful on my next trip. Thank you for your wonderful inspiration!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater January 22, 2013 at 8:25 am

Oh thank you so much Debbie! I’m so glad my post was helpful to you! I’ve always wanted to go to Chile – one of the many countries that’s next on my list! :)

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piyukaka January 21, 2013 at 9:31 pm

Anjali: I did not know you were such a wonderful reporter. What a charming evocative travel diary. The photos are just out of this world–natural beauty; urban and rural environs; and above all, the variety of fantastic food and wine items you were lucky to relish. Such mouth-watering pics and description that I felt like sitting next to you at lunch or dinner or botn! Compliments and congrats and lots of love.

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater January 22, 2013 at 8:26 am

Hi Piyukaka!! :) Thank you so much for your kind words!! I’m so happy you enjoyed the recap of our trip and that we were able to virtually share it with you. I hope you’re doing well – we love you and miss you!

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Julie January 22, 2013 at 6:46 am

I loved reading your blog about Argentina. Your photographs of the countryside and food! were beautiful. As a painter, I was truly inspired and hope to visit one day. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater January 22, 2013 at 8:28 am

Aw, thanks Julie! I really appreciate that – so happy my post was artistically inspiring to you :) You must visit Argentina – it’s absolutely beautiful there!

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Lisa Joseph February 3, 2013 at 1:33 pm

Freakin’ awesome! To indulge in Malbecs…. while in Argentina! A little bit of heaven! Thanks for sharing!!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater February 5, 2013 at 5:43 pm

Exactly! It really was so wonderful to drink Malbecs in Argentina – absolutely delicious :)

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Online RSA February 28, 2013 at 7:46 pm

Wow! amazing views and such delicious foods we can find in Argentina:) From the pictures, it is a suitable place to go with in a winter vacation! We must go there and have some adventure travel:)

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater March 4, 2013 at 8:13 am

Thank you! It really is a wonderful vacation destination!!

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Traveler299 July 1, 2013 at 7:06 am

Great blog – would you mind sharing the name of the apartment? We’re heading to Argentina for the holidays and are looking for an apartment.

Thanks,
C

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater July 1, 2013 at 9:38 am

Thanks so much! We rented our apartment from http://www.apartmentsba.com/ — they were great, really easy to work with and have a ton of options to choose from. Hope that helps!

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Komal November 12, 2013 at 3:50 pm

Such a beautliful recap of your trip !! New to your blog, love your healthy recipes, and am looking fwd to trying them soon :)

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater November 12, 2013 at 5:27 pm

Thank you so much Komal! It’s so nice to “meet” you! :) Can’t wait to hear how my recipes turn out for you!

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Hiral February 6, 2014 at 12:23 pm

Looks like an amazing trip! You have certainly inspired me to travel there! One question- how did you get from Mendoza to Bariloche? Looks like its a 14 hour drive and there are no flights between the cities. Great food pics and suggestions! Love your site!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater February 6, 2014 at 2:39 pm

Hi Hiral! Thanks so much — I’m so glad you like my blog! :) To your question — we actually did fly from Mendoza to Bariloche. Both LAN and Aerolineas (domestic airlines in Argentina) make the trip. Hope that helps!

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