The World’s Ultimate Steak Sandwich
It’s the highlight of Angélica Cocina Maestra’s new wine-centric tasting menu – and it means a trip to Argentina.
At Angélica Cocina Maestra, the new restaurant’s cuisine serves as a muse for Catena Zapata wines—but, make no mistake, the complex and inventive Argentinian food is as spotlight-worthy as the vintages they complement, from a pea-flour-ravioli dish (crafted from hand-ground peas cultivated on site) to a trio of infused salts harvested from the winery’s own Andean salt mine. Much of the menu—from chef and head winemaker Alejandro Vigil, who, alongside his wife, María Sanc, owns Mendoza’s top restaurant, Casa Vigil—is sourced directly from the winery’s own gardens, and anything that isn’t is from regional growers and producers. But it’s not just the freshness and hyper-locality of the dishes that impresses, it’s the imagination and soul that shines through their preparation.
Take the menu’s fascinating sandwich course, Picnic Elena, which pays homage to Elena Catena, the mother of fourth-generation vintner and managing director of Catena Zapata Winery, Laura Catena, and a woman who loves making elaborate picnic sandwiches. Since bread is the soul of any sandwich, this one features a variety known as pan de campo (“camp bread”), an Argentine country loaf prepared in mud ovens in the morning, often served with jam for breakfast or slathered with olive tapenade in the afternoon.
Vigil updated the recipe, traditionally composed of flour and the special lard that makes Argentine empanada dough so delicate and flaky, with a blend of beef tallow and pork lard, as well as changed the bread’s shape. Vigil’s lard imparts a distinct flavour because it’s rendered from pancetta cured for 24 hours in a brine laced with juniper, bay leaf, and a mix of peppers. It’s that unique taste that elevates the humble pan de campo and reinvents a sandwich as a refined dish served with sliced beef, a colourful selection of tomatoes, and three sauces.
“You’ll find yourself making this elaborate sandwich on this amazing bread in a beautiful place looking at vineyards,” Catena says, “just like the picnics my mother loves.”
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