Patagonian eating: Ushuaia, Argentina

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Having boarded an Aerolineas flight at Buenos Aires and settled into my seat with Bill Bryson’s At Home, a remarkable and extremely humorous piece of work, as all of his other opus’ on life and beyond, I couldn’t help but wonder what was lying at the end of a three and half hour flight, a place fondly known as The End of the Earth. Naturally, there was an unbearable excitement, especially as the plane on its descent took a turn and out of the window was the curved corner of Argentinas southern coast, the piece of land closest to Antarctica, truly at the end of the earth. Patagonia, once a dream for over a decade finally surrounded me and Ushuaia was my first stop. As can be expected, there was an urge to discover the local cuisine and something different from the parillas that dominate Argentina. Much research wasn’t needed as there’s no better knowledge than that of the locals and their advice soon led me to two restaurants offering the simplest of cooking, fresh from the nearby waters.

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Carpaccio
Patagonian sea bass

Kaupe is definitely no easy restaurant to get to as it’s on top of a steep incline, yet the walk does build up an appetite and when you turn around to see what heights you’ve scaled, the rolling view across the harbour and its surrounding hills is nothing short of spectacular. The menu itself features heavily the giant multi-legged monster we know as the king crab (a horror for a shellfish allergy sufferer such as myself!), yet there are plenty of other local fish that are tempting. Having built up quite an appetite, I decided to nibble a bit of the local beef carpaccio that came with a Patagonian cheese, capers, lemon and olive oil – a simple and basic, straightforward plate of food.

On its heels came an gigantic piece of Chilean seabass with carrots and white wine sauce, baked in a parcel. When I inquired about average fish sizes, the answer was between 50-150 kg! Fresh, light and once again, simple, something that fits in quite perfectly with its surroundings.

As for dessert, a light and comforting crepe with apples, banana and orange, raspberry sauce and cream  happily ended what could only be described as a well cooked, comforting and straightforward meal, giving one the sense of wellbeing that home-cooked food is often wont to do.

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The following day after a spellbound excursion to the Tierra del Fuego national park from where we saw the end of the Pan-American highway, running from Alaska all the way to Pataia Bay in the park (a total of 17,748km as the crow flies), another restaurant with a view of the bay (it seems to be the rage here) was where I got fed a hunk of grilled Australis hake and a refreshing mixed salad. There’s not many places one can go to, especially in touristy towns that food this fresh, simple and well-cooked will feature on a menu, and it makes the perfect bite before an afternoon of cruising along the beagle channel looking for sea lions and penguins. Tante Nina made the locals proud as being one of their favourites.

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Kaupe Website

Tante Nina Website

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