The next day Los Sauces’ adorable, and talented young chef, Marcelo Raitelli treated the guests to a roast lamb lunch. He cooked the chimichurri-rubbed (massaged, he would say)lamb asador-style; butterflied, and trussed with metal hooks and wires on a metal cross then cooked in front of an pile of flaming wood. He turned it and basted it with more chimichurri until only he knew it was cooked to perfection.
His response to my request was a list of ingredients. I’ve added approximate measurements. Marcelo’s ingredients are in BOLD.
GARLIC 3 or 4 cloves (or more, if you like)
PARSLEY 1 cup fresh, flat leaves, chopped
RED PEPPER 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
OREGANO 1 cup fresh leaves, chopped or 1 heaping
tablespoon dried leaves
ALCOHOL VINEGAR 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
OLIVE OIL ½ cup extra virgin
SALT 1 tablespoon
PEPPER I assume he means black pepper – I suggest 1
tablespoon freshly ground – except that I don’t
use it in my sauce
Mix all the ingredients together and let rest for at least a day before using. The sauce can be refrigerated for up to 3 weeks.
The next morning I awoke at the ungodly hour of 6:45 to get ready for the day's activity - a mini-trek across one of Patagonia's famous glaciers. I was met by my guide , blue-eyed, ever-smiling Pablo - Hielo y Aventura. It seemed that Pablo’s sole job was to keep me entertained – and company, while we drove for one and half hours to reach the entrance to Los Glaciares National Park. Pablo stayed with me while I took the short ferry ride across the stunning, Lago Argentina (the largest lake in the country) to the Glaciar Perito Moreno. I was left in capable hands of about half a dozen almost distractingly, handsome- mountain guides. We split into groups – I with the English-speakers, the rest were Spanish speakers. I was at least twice the age of everyone else – did I worry that I wouldn’t be able to make it? Only for a half a second. We walked for 15 – 20 minutes across the glacial moraine before we reached the base of glacier. With crampons strapped onto our boots, we set out and walked straight up, in the rain. It was exhilarating – exciting and wondrous. Here I was, clamped onto to 15,000 year old ice.
Sadly, I left El Calafate that evening. I would go back to Patagonia in a heartbeat. In over four decades of travel I can't remember when I've been so taken with a place. It was all about nature - not necessarily the cuisine - although it was delicious, not necessarily the people, although they were kind, generous, serene and noble - not necessarily the history although there is a rather rogue history attached to that part of Argentina - read, or reread as I did, Bruce Chatwin's "In Patagonia" . It was the landscape, the tenacious stiff grass that grows in spite of the wind and birds that do their best to keep it buzz-cut - the pleated glaciers surrounded by moss-green moraine and Paul-Newman-blue-eyed lakes (after all Patagonia was where Butch Cassidy spent his final days) the eagles, the condors, the guanacos (little llamas), the hares, the vandurias, the flamingos and so on.