Friday, March 24, 2017

Eating and drinking our way across dog-friendly Argentina

Park pooch at San Rafael Argentina
We spent a week exploring in Argentina, sightseeing and eating our way across the province of Mendoza. There are amazing wineries, fabulous restaurants, and dogs of every size, shape, colour and variety.

Using the Petit Suter Hotel in San Rafael, as our base we investigated the surrounding area. Situated in the semi-arid southern region of Mendoza province, San Rafael has a population of around 170,000 inhabitants. It’s a vibrant community with lots of amenities including several gourmet restaurants. A wide and delicious selection of only Argentinian wine is sold in every corner store. No imports allowed.

Wine, wine and more wine!
While exploring the various communities we saw a well-balanced interaction between the residents and the street dogs. Strays usually stake out their territory by napping in doorways of restaurants, stores and gas stations. 

Many locals stop to give the dogs a bit of food and a pat on the head. The snowy winter months would be harder for the animals but right now the strays are in good condition, with no sign of scrawny moms scavenging for food so that they can feed their babies. This is one of the most dog-friendly countries we have ever experienced.

Gas station dog gets a handout
As mentioned in our previous articles the roads in Argentina are well-maintained, but directional signage is very scarce. It makes for interesting daytrips. 

We’d head out with a destination in mind, only to find ourselves in a completely different hamlet. 

As long as there was flavourful food and tasty drinks at the end of the adventure we were happy.

Plate-sized hamburger

In one instance we headed south-west from San Rafael towards El Nihuil via highway #173 and instead arrived in the town of General Alvear on highway #143 a good bit east of our original destination. That gave us a good laugh while we searched for a local restaurant that was open for lunch on a Saturday. 

Again we stopped at the corner gas station, asking for suggestions. Just a block away was a local eatery serving dinner-plate sized hamburgers and litre bottles of Andes beer. 

The food was tasty and the owners friendly. The street dogs politely waited for handouts.

Another afternoon, Carlos, the owner of the Petit Suter Hotel suggested that we drive twenty kilometers west to the next village Veintecinco de Mayo (25th of May) and have lunch at his favourite restaurant, the Villa Bonita. The route was fairly straightforward enabling us to find the eatery without traversing the Andes in search of the village. 

We enjoyed a hearty meal of meat, stewed and covered with a pastry crust. 

Hi!  Want to share with me?
My body was craving dark green veggies – broccoli, spinach, and asparagus. Lawrie, on the other hand, was as happy as a pig-in-poop with the menu choices of meat, meat and more meat.

I bundled up the left-over beef and carried it back to the gas station dog near our hotel. He was a very happy mutt that day. 

A few days later we were headed back north to Mendoza City, the past week having passed in a blur of food and wine. 

On our way north we veered into the Salentein winery for one last chance at purchasing our favourites. On the off-chance we asked if we could have lunch in the restaurant. We hadn’t thought to make the normally required reservation. 

Salentein Winery lunch.
Fortunately for us the young woman who manages the bar-restaurant remembered us from the previous week. She said she could squeeze us in – yippee!  

Another amazing lunch served with delicious wines and an outstanding view of the snow-capped Andes Mountains.

It was a darn great way to end our adventures.

Hasta Luego from Paradise
Cheers Lynda & Lawrie


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