When most people think of Patagonia, they think of glaciers, mountains, big skies, and vast untouched wilderness. While many travelers will head to Patagonia for long hikes, extreme sports, and a simpler way of life, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some of the finer things in life during your stay. Both Argentine and Chilean Patagonia have a blossoming foodie scene, with restaurants serving both traditional fare and inventive haute cuisine. With many restaurants specializing in fresh, local produce, there is plenty of opportunities to try mouth-watering lamb, Patagonian scallops, king crab, and asado. Here, we get you warmed up with our introduction to Patagonian cuisine.
1. Patagonian scallops
If you love scallops, you’re going to be seriously impressed by Patagonian scallops. These small shellfish are caught wild from the ice-cold Antarctic waters off the Argentinian coast, which makes them especially flavorsome. Irresistibly sweet and juicy, Patagonian scallops taste amazing in ceviche, wrapped in bacon, tossed with lemon and olive oil or just plain.
In Argentina, asado is both a gathering around a barbecue and a cooking method. Cooking traditional asado can last hours, with appetizers including beef sweetbreads, blood sausage, and other offal. To really get to the heart of Patagonian dining, spend a lazy afternoon next to a grill feasting on whole lamb or pig over an open fire. Slathered in chimichurri with a dash of salt and pepper, asado is best enjoyed with a rich glass of Malbec.
Originally imported to Spain by the Moors then transported to South America, the empanada is like a mini Cornish pasty. These small dough pockets are filled with meat or vegetables then baked or fried. There are several different varieties of empanada, including chicken, cheese, ham, or blue cheese. Traditional Argentinian empanadas are mendocinas, which are filled with beef, onions, paprika, pepper, cumin, oregano, hard-boiled egg, and olives. You can also get dessert empanadas filled with quince jam or dulce de leche.
4. King crab
Another of Patagonia’s classic seafood dishes is buttery, subtly sweet and tender king crab. A favorite amongst locals and visitors alike, a typical Patagonian king crab will be served whole in a fresh stock or as a creamy chowder. Caught on either the Atlantic or Pacific coast of Patagonia, you can be sure your king crab is as fresh as can be. Served with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc or Torrentes, no seafood really quite compares to Patagonian crab.
5. Cordero al Palo
Finally, we arrive at what is arguably Patagonia’s most iconic dish: slow-cooked lamb, or cordero al palo. Roasted over a log fire until crisp and succulent, cordero al palo is an unmissable dining experience. Raised on verdant Patagonian steppe, the lamb is lean and grass-fed, creating delicious delicate flavors. Traditionally, cordero al palo is stretched across a metal frame and slowly barbequed until the meat almost melts from the bone.
More Patagonian dishes to explore
This is just a taste of some of the delicious cuisine Patagonia has to offer. Onboard Australis’ cruise ships, we serve a fine dining menu filled with fresh Patagonian ingredients. For more information about our onboard restaurant and menu, download our brochure here.