empanada redux

Since I finally got to the Empanada festival from so long ago, I must continue the empanada documentation here in Uruguay, this time with an entry describing both a place and a method of transcendence. I speak of Empanadas Carolinas, a little place tucked away at the back of the Mercado de Puerto in town. OK, maybe not quite that superlative, but it was good food. Most of the market is pricey restaurants with beef, sausages, and chicken to offer. This is not a bad thing – it is Uruguayan meat.

However, I wanted fish. I settled for seafood empanadas. We tried six (being a mite piggish, but it was a one-time-offer!): mejillones (mussels), calamares (squid), carne con aceitunas y pasas (ground beef with olives and raisins), queso con aceitunas y puerros (cheese with olives and leeks), and two dessert empanadas (apples with raisins and a kind of custard with chocolate). The favourite between both of us was the cheese, a very nice blend of everything. The two seafood ones were actually TOO seafood-tasting, it was a little much, though they were nice and fresh. The meat was nice, though the olives didn’t balance the sweetness of the raisins as much as I had hoped.

The dessert empanadas were really terrific. You can find these now and then, though this was the first time we’d ever tried them. The custard with chocolate reminded Chris of a Boston Cream donut back home and I had to agree. Yum. The apples and raisins was a little like apple pie. A different experience. Empanadas Carolinas comes highly recommended from us – she has 28 different kinds, so you can find something to suit you. Wine is also served out of a plastic jug – you have to have something for character!

As a further note, in Punta del Este we had empanadas with fish in them. This is one of my favourite empanadas yet with just a touch of onion added in. The fish is super-fresh and flaky and goes quite well with the dough.

Lastly, a note on what I hope to note everywhere in southern South America – basic empanada trends. Every province has a different type of carne (beef) empanada – some have potatoes, some eggs, some use lemon, etc. Here in Uruguay (and in Entre Rios, just north of Buenos Aires provice and right across the border from Uruguay on the west, which I’m told has the same trend), they seem to add grapes or raisins into the basic meat, sometimes also with eggs. They definitely add a sweetness to it – I like them either with grapes or with the raisins well cooked. The empanada gets also too sweet if the raisins are the main taste. Anyway, be prepared for more empanada talk in the future!

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