*I’m sorry it has been forever (a month) since I last posted, but there is good reason for it! I promise to let you in on it soon. Until my appetite comes back and I start cooking again I will be posting a special series written by my friend and travel companion Elizabeth Ellen that chronicles our visit to Estancia Monte Dinero in eastern Patagonia back in February. Elizabeth, Grace and I were lucky enough to visit this “off the beaten track” working Estancia during our trip to Argentina and we all agreed it was one of our most favorite memories. Hope you enjoy!
After negotiating a rather worrisome car rental contract in our best broken Spanish/broken English that made us liable for everything, (apparently that’s how its done down there) we stocked up on empanadas at the local supermarket in El Calafate and head out on a 3 hour journey to the eastern side of Patagonia. Once in Rio Gallegos, we stopped at the local bus station to ask for directions, noticing the sun was creeping lower in the sky. We filled up on gas and set off down a rocky dusty road that promised a gratifying dinner upon our arrival. Since we were all new to Patagonia, it was hard not to stop and take pictures at every turn. There were countless sheep families running around together asking to have their pictures taken as they paused in the middle of the road before scurrying off. The landscape was so flat, as the sun set it seemed you could see forever; the steppes off in the distance magically lit by the sunsets’ brilliant hues. Finally, as the last bit of daylight was setting, we saw the sign for Monte Dinero!
Sharon, one of the daughters who lived on/helped to run the farm, greeted us warmly. She showed us our room and asked us to come down for dinner when we were settled. We were too excited to see what treats were on the menu for the evening so we washed our hands and ran back downstairs. For appetizers we had a selection of five pickled offal’s served tapas style. Sharon came over and offered us a bottle of Malbec to go with our meal, which tasted even better after such a long car ride. As she explained some of the details of a working sheep farm, she admitted she had never seen a group of girls come for a visit to the farm. We got the biggest kick out of that! We also happened to be the only tourists staying on for lodging for the evening, just to give you an idea of how remote the Estancia was! Next, for the main course, the chef brought out crab enchiladas! Who knew crab would be on the menu at a farm! They were absolutely delicious and the crab so fresh, we had to stop ourselves from going back for seconds (though we did indulge in a second bottle of wine!) After dinner there were 3 choices for desert, and we decided to get one of each so we could try them all. The desert menu consisted of tiramisu, cheesecake, and crème caramel. Decadent, yet simple.
After the meal, we talked to Sharon about plans for the following day and mentioned that we had discovered the Estancia in the Lonely Planet book (and snuck in a mention that we read she had a great recipe for rhubarb cake!) Late into the evening we said our goodnights and head off to bed, little did we know what would be waiting for us the following morning….