Travel | Argentina

This is part of a two-part post on my trip to Argentina with Lucini Italia to meet the growers (and learn more about) their Everyday Extra Virgin Olive OIl. Part One has the recipe for Dark Chocolate Alfajores With Olive Oil Dulce De Leche that was inspired by the trip. Part Two (here) is all about where we went and stayed in Argentina and has heaps of photos. I hope you enjoy both! xo
Part One: Dark Chocolate Dipped Alfajores With Olive Oil Dulce De Leche
Part Two: Argentina, The Deets

WOW. Where to begin. First, I’m not going to bury the lead…you should pack your bags and go to Argentina straightaway. It’s amazing. When Lucini Italia asked earlier this year if I wanted to go I had zero hesitation in saying yes. There were all kinds of variables…what would we be doing? Who else was going? Would they be nice and fun? Will I love Argentina? But I wasn’t remotely concerned about any of these questions…I just had the sole quest of getting down there and experiencing some life.

Not only is Argentina an extraordinary place, but our entire group and everyone we encountered was nothing short of wonderful. How often does life work like that?

The premise of the trip was to head down to Mendoza and meet the growers of Lucini’s Everyday Extra Virgin Olive Oil, learn about the different production methods, taste various varietals, take lots of beautiful pictures and create a recipe inspired by the trip (click here to see my Alfajores — you must make them!!). None of this sounds bad, does it?

The best way to tell the story of this trip is through the photos. So I’ll weave the words with the pictures below. Enjoy and please, please, please DM, email or comment below with any Argentina and/or Lucini questions!

My first night…

This was the view outside my room at the Park Hyatt Mendoza. The weather was cool and fall-like, the leaves were turning and off in the distance you could see the foothills. The hotel was fab, the people were nice (which was a common theme throughout Argentina) and it was the perfect pitstop before I met up with everyone. The next morning the sweetest guy picked me up at the hotel to take me out to meet up with everyone else in our group. We spent the day chatting, sipping bubbly wine, spa-ing and then ended with an amazing dinner at Francis Mallman’s 1884 Restaurante.

The sweet guy that picked me up gave me heaps of Argentina trivia which I proceeded to share throughout the entire trip like I was some type of Mendoza, Argentina savant. I was most struck with how similar Mendoza and the surrounding area was to where I live in the Santa Ynez Valley, California. So I had all types of questions about crops that were grown, droughts and water shortages and earthquakes. The agriculture is very similar in both places (grapes, olives, almonds…), as is the lack of rainfall. However Mendoza overcomes this with the runoff from the surrounding Andes. There are dams surrounding the city and aqueducts throughout that distribute and control the flow of water. I was dazzled and wished we had such circumstances at home. It seemed like an incredibly thriving and functional system.

In regards to earthquakes, they do have them. Constantly. Most of them you can’t feel and I never felt one the entire time I was there. I think being a California native I always wonder about earthquakes when I travel, especially if I notice lots of brick buildings…which moderately stresses me out.

But Mendoza hasn’t had a big one since the 1800s. It was catastrophic and leveled the city. When they rebuilt, they instituted low buildings (great for spying the Andes), parks every few city blocks for people to gather in the event of another earthquake (so pretty, we need this) and they centered the building of the post-earthquake city around the Hyatt which has a beautiful facade. Go ahead, go take a look at the link above. How I didn’t get a photo of the exterior of my hotel still escapes me. I think it’s called jet lag…

I have to be honest, I’ve tried to research some of this to back up the facts my sweet driver (as he will be known from this point forward) told me, but I had some problems finding history on the hotel…so we’re going with it. It all ties in so romantically with the entire trip, that I’m asking no more questions…

The next morning I awoke to this stunning bubble-gum pink sunrise with the Andes off in the distance. We were staying at Entre Cielos outside of downtown Mendoza and I wholeheartedly recommend this place…the views were stunning, the food was delicious and the staff was amazing. Below are photos looking out the lobby and photos taken along the road to our first of several Lucini olive growers. In total we would visit the Perez Family and Olivaterra olive farms…other local Lucini producers include Acequion, Rodrigo de Vivar, Ramfer and La Bella.

I would be remiss not to mention Ramiro, a key member of Lucini’s South American team that took us everywhere and was an extension of my sweet driver in supplying Argentina facts, trivia and hospitality…

These photos were taken at the Perez Family Olive Farm. They use traditional farming methods…lots of beautiful wooden ladders (that I’m convinced would look great leaning up against a wall in my living room), canes for whacking the trees (that I could use to scare predators away from my chickens) and netting for catching the fallen olives (not sure what I could do with that…). We were all obsessed with this guy’s gorgeous hands and sweet smile. We took photos of him ad nauseam and he was perfectly fine and patient with it.

People were kind. And generous. And double-cheek kissed a lot. I think it was at this point that I suggested we all bring this custom home with us. How can you be mad or fight with someone you just double-kissed?

It was the end of harvest, have I mentioned that? So many of the trees had already had their fruit picked, save for the ones they took us to see. The trees were lush and the air was clean and crisp.

We tried to film a group of us walking down the middle of this row of trees below, looking super casual and I almost ate it in the dirt. I’d like to find that footage to share with you…it’s pretty amazing…

That’s Ramiro in the blue coat below, chatting with one of the Lucini growers.

It’s pretty amazing to look at these rich, luscious olives in his hands and imagine they’re in the olive oil that sits on my counter in the kitchen. We live in an amazing world.


After a morning talking, smelling and absorbing all things olives, we headed over to Casa De Enemigo. This place was too cool. Saying it’s cool makes it sound uncool, but it was really cool. I swear.

We started with an empanada class of which I promptly decided that all empanadas should be fried always and forever AND they were going to become an integral part of my life as soon as I returned home. I’m pretty confident I could never get sick of eating them.

We toured the property which had all kinds of funky art, learned about their wine and then sat down to a long, delicious, heavily meat-centric meal chased with delicious wine and dotted with bits of bread dipped in olive oil (Lucini, of course, we carried it everywhere ;)).

The next morning…

We headed to the Olivaterra Olive Farm north of Mendoza and saw a more modern harvest with ginormous (and loud!!) farm equipment. We tasted the different varietals grown there (one Italian, the other two Argentinian) and the flavors went from fat and mild (I want to use the descriptor ’round’ but I don’t know if that tells you anything) to full-bodied with some mega burn and tingle as it went down the back of your throat. They’re sending us our favorite single varietal and I can’t wait to taste it at home, away of the olive farm, with a hunk of crusty bread. I’ll grab a sprig from my olive tree and pretend I’m in the southern hemisphere again.

We moved on to lunch in the middle of the olive farm…beautifully set tables, more empanadas and copious amounts of wine. It was at this point that I was planning my escape. I was meant to live here. Long, leisurely meals, non-stop empanadas, delicious wine, double-kissing cheeks… And I haven’t even mentioned the dulce de leche for breakfast or the alfajores at every turn.

I think I’m an Argentinian waiting to happen.


This was our general mood the entire trip.

If you ever have the opportunity to travel with Kevin Masse, do it. He’s a gem.

We stayed in downtown Mendoza that night and went out to Orégano for dinner. We all thought we were too tired and too full to go out to dinner. Turns out we weren’t. The martinis were exquisite…as was the baked squash…and the pizza…because you always order pizza when you’re positively stuffed. Don’t worry. We ate it.

The next morning we headed south to the Uco Valley for our last day. I couldn’t bear it. Nostalgia had already set in.

We started the day by wine tasting at Catena Zapata Winery. We got a private tour and the vineyard manager gave us the most wonderful private tasting. When we finished they brought us, you guessed it, more empanadas. I told Kevin my life was peaking.

I’ve been going through empanada withdrawals ever since we got home.

After wine tasting we journey to Estancia Las Aguaditas (ps this is an Airbnb link if you’re ever in the neighborhood). The snow-covered Andes were so close it looked like we could reach out and touch them. And it was sooooooo cold!!! I’m talking wearing jackets over jackets cold. Some people went horseback riding and others stayed at the house and then we feasted. Again. I got in the habit of unbuttoning my pants at meals by the end of the trip. Zero shame.

We left in the late afternoon and it snowed on us as we made our way to our last hotel (Casa De Uco). They greeted us at the door with champagne, which segued into martinis in the lounge to yet another deliciously long and beautiful dinner. Lucini gifted us each with a cookbook written by the owner of Catena Zapata, where we had sipped wine earlier in the day. There were thoughtful details like this throughout the trip, from blankets to keep us cozy between stops to wine from various tastings and that single varietal olive oil I can’t wait to get in the mail. When you work with a company that’s as wonderful as their product it’s magic.

Kevin said this was the life he was meant to live. I agree my friend…I agree…

I had to leave quite early because of my flight, before dawn had lit up where I had slept the night before. Which gives me another reason to go back.

I walked out of the hotel and who was taking me to the airport??!? None other than sweet driver guy. This hotel was an hour (hours??) away from the first and here he was. How’s that for coincidence?

I was absolutely tuckered and other than watching another bubble-gum pink sunrise unravel over the Andes, I had no more questions to ask.

If you haven’t already, head over to get the recipe for my Dark Chocolate Dipped Alfajores With Olive Oil Dulce De Leche — Argentina is the most amazing place and probably my most favorite trip ever. I hope you’ll put it on your must-vacation list.

To read my fellow travelers recount their journeys and see their recipe inspiration, head to:

Jessica @feedmedearly

Hetty @arthurstreetkitchen

Until next time Mendoza — thank you for the hospitality!!!

Ciao Argentina!

Rebecca

xoxo

 

This post was done in collaboration with Lucini Italia. I’d like to thank Lucini for taking me on the most magical trip possible and for being such an amazing partner. All content and ideas are my own. And thank you DH readers for supporting the brands that keep DisplacedHousewife in the kitchen — you guys are aces!! 

 

6 Comments

  • Marcia Smart 2018/06/29 at 8:29 PM

    Love this post! It makes me want to book my trip to Argentina pronto!

    Reply
    • Rebecca Firth 2018/07/02 at 5:55 PM

      You should! I can’t recommend it enough!! xoxo

      Reply
  • Beth 2018/06/29 at 7:02 PM

    ‍♀️ Do I pack my bags or go in the kitchen?

    Reply
  • Morgan 2018/06/29 at 6:25 PM

    How amazing of Lucini to host such an incredible trip!!! As usual your brilliant ability to tell a story gives us the perfect picture of Argentina! Now I can’t wait to go…

    Reply
    • Rebecca Firth 2018/06/29 at 6:29 PM

      It was AHHHHmazing and they were wonderful!!!! You must go!!! xoxo

      Reply

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