Sunday, May 11, 2008

Cosmopolitan Adelaide

Whenever I tell a Sydneysider or Melburnian that I live in Adelaide, I usually get an apologetic look. Followed by, “Why?” All’s well when they find out I’m studying gastronomy and therefore have an implied interest in wine, since Aussies recognize the Adelaide area’s supremacy in this respect. But I get the impression that Aussies in general mistakenly think of Adelaide as a hickish backwater town. Sure, I’ve spotted a few bogans here and there, but overall it’s a surprisingly cosmopolitan city for its size (about 1 million pop).

It seems like there’s always something artsy-fartsy and cultural-ly going on. I especially liked the Northern Lights show, where colorful artistic spotlights illuminated the beautiful sandstone buildings on North Terrace (where my uni is located).

Hi Phil!

The food and wine available here is certainly world class, with the Central Market leading the charge here in the heart of the city. Here’s me, just a tad too excited about the Brillat Savarin triple cream brie I got at The Smelly Cheese Shop in the market.

The number and diversity of restaurants here is also impressive. I always get super giddy and believe a city is tres-cosmopolitan when it has an Argentine restaurant. And guess what – Adelaide has at least THREE Argentine joints! I’ve eaten at Argentine restaurants in Boston, Miami, Amsterdam, Kuala Lumpur, Buenos Aires, and now Adelaide, and so I’ve come to learn that outside of Argentina where the food is quite obviously authentic (duh), a good place must have: 1. blood sausages, intestines, and sweetbreads as part of their mixed grill. 2. a mini table grill. 3. properly-seasoned chorizo sausages and empanadas (the best gosh darned parts of the meal, in my opinion) – lots of paprika and garlic. 4. the correct cuts of meat, like flanken-cut short ribs. 5. unlimited chimichurri on the table. 6. a maximum of one vegetable offered on the menu, preferably mashed potates (we’re talking food from the land of beef eaters, people!). 7. Quilmes beer and at least a few Malbecs from Mendoza on the wine list.

While Argentine restaurants outside of their homeland can’t touch the quality and price of the meats and accoutrements in Argentina, some do surprisingly well. Rancho Argentino in Miami’s South Beach came closest, with Boston’s Tango coming in second (mostly because of the charismatic owner and fridge full of Quilmes). The Argentine restaurant in Amsterdam was next, followed by the Kuala Lumpur establishment. I really hate to say this, but Sosta here in Adelaide was last on this list! Sosta Argentinian Kitchen on Urbanspoon

I was encouraged by the carnivorous piles of raw meat on display when we arrived to Sosta…

…but was so bummed when the mixed grill we ordered was overcooked, the empanadas and chorizos were bland, they gave us a side of roasted vegetables (what?!?!) and there was no chimichurri available!!!

It’s quite possible we were just there on a bad night. Our waiter disregarded our request for wine and we were seated across from a morbidly obese man who ordered a bottle of wine, an appetizer of four sausages, and the largest steak I have ever seen (at least a kilo) and ate the entire meal with his eyes closed, sweating, on the verge of sleep. Not the most appetizing or luxurious of environments, but admittedly his sketchiness was beyond the control of the restaurant staff. He was way too large for anyone to even consider picking him up and tossing him out of the restaurant in his sleep.

So, I guess I’m not sure why this topic is in a blog post titled “Cosmopolitan Adelaide.” That fat dude was the farthest from cosmopolitan you can possibly get. But that’s the direction I took so deal with it. I’ll certainly check back in with you once I’ve eaten at the other two Argentine restaurants here in Adelaide…

How can you complain when you're surrounded by good friends and wine?

PS. If anyone wants to see a photo of the legendary fat man, all you have to do is ask.


Anonymous said...

Oh, it's always disappointing when large hunks of meat mislead you like that...I would definitely place Sosta at the bottom end of Argentinian restaurants here in Adelaide...although I've not made it there myself, rumour has it the best one is nestled in the hills somewhere near Stirling I think? Gaucho's on Gouger St meets your criteria (nice chimicurri on every table)but can be slightly overpriced. Loving your Adelaide posts, it's always nice to have some admit that our little city is not completely full of bogans!

Cari said...

Ooooh fun! I hadn't heard of the Argentine place in Stirling, looks like it's in an old renovated stone church! Darn, sometimes I just wish I had a car here... will definitely try to make it there at some point. And Gaucho's is literally in my backyard so that's also on the short list (gotta save up my pennies, though)...

I'm really enjoying living in Adelaide so watch for more posts!!