Some meals are never forgotten. 1884 Francis Mallmann is one of them.
What makes a meal memorable in the first place? Ambiance certainly plays a role, as does the service. First and foremost, obviously, is the food. Does it need to be meal you’ve never had before? Not necessarily. Does it need to have an odd combination of flavors and textures that you’ve never tried before? Not necessarily.
For me, what defines a memorable meal is how I look back on it. If I can’t get the meal out of my head and think about the dish for days… if I am hungry and find myself craving it… if I spend a considerable amount of time wondering exactly what the chef did to make that dish so delicious…. THAT is a memorable meal. And the dishes sampled at 1884 Francis Mallmann certainly fall into this category.
Situated inside the beautiful winery Bodega Escorihuela, 1884 Francis Mallmann serves up dishes in the style which its namesake–famous Argentine chef Francis Mallmann–is known for: simple elegance.
You feel this as you walk in to the restaurant. The attendant ushers you in to a dimly-lit, high-walled stone building reminiscent of medieval times. Passing through it’s timeless entryway you walk into a beautiful grassy courtyard, where guests are invited to enjoy a cocktail before their meal. We sat and watched the asador attend to his parrilla as we sipped sparkling wine and anxiously awaited the meal we had been waiting for.
And what a beautiful meal it was. At 1884, a beautiful burrata salad with a simple mixed greens and poached pear isn’t just a salad: it is a beautiful combination of flavors and textures so heavenly and so flavor-filled that you find it hard to believe it is “just a salad”. There is true talent when something that seems so simple can actually be so complex.
Mallmann’s signature dish–chivito–envelops this same simple elegance. Slow roasted in a wood burning oven, the baby goat is soft and tender and pulls away from itself so easily that a knife is not needed. It is moist, juicy and full of flavor… and unlike anything I had eaten before.
Americans aren’t too familiar with Francis Mallmann, but I believe that they should be. His ability to take quality ingredients and transform them into beautiful, simple dishes which exhibit the essence of each of the ingredients is not just a talent: it is an art form. And one which inspires me to be a better cook.
Interested in learning more about Francis Mallmann, but can’t make it to Mendoza, Argentina any time soon? Not to worry. Mallmann’s book, “Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way”, can be purchased from Amazon.