Yes, it’s time for the continuing story of the Great Empanada Search. Back in Buenos Aires, we hit three new empanada places of note, each noteworthy in their noteworthiness for the notes they sang in our empanada hearts (a.k.a. stomachs).
First up was a little chain joint called Cumen-Cumen that was luckily right by our house. Almost two dozen flavours threatened to overwhelm us, necessitating numerous trips back to sample them all. Of course, they had the typical choices, but some really out-there ones were also included: cheese, plum, and bacon; cheese, sausage, and a kind of hot pepper that wasn’t hot; cheese, mustard, and meat (couldn’t taste the mustard, unfortunately); an empanada with matabre (a filled, rolled cut of cow); the list goes on. Great place, as can be evidenced by the number of times we visited. Probably the best chain I’ve visited.
Next up were Bolivian empanadas at La Peceña (pictured). A simple menu (pizza, salad (which they didn’t have), beer and wine, stews, and empanadas), we went for a couple of the stews and a slew of empanadas. The long ones are called amarreños and are the same, just differently-shaped.
Since there was a group, we got almost every kind available – tuna, humita (corn in a whitish egg sauce), spicy beef, spicy chicken, puka-kupa (spicy cabbage), verdura (vegetable), and al-to-ke (basil, tomato, cheese). The dough was hardier than we were used to – it seemed to be made from a corn flour rather than light, fluffy wheat flour. These were empanadas to be contented with! Everything was wonderfully saucy – a big plus in all of our reviews. In fact, it seemed like the al-to-ke was made with mostly tomato sauce with hunks of tomato, a welcome reprieve from the Argentine ones we had gotten used to eating where you have to search for a spot of red.
The spicy empanadas all had kick to them. In fact, the chicken eater had to stop once or twice to avoid being overspiced. Maybe she’s been eating Argentine food too long? Lastly, the puka-kupa, while sounding weird (spicy cabbage? Where are we, Korea?) was both spicy (living up to its promise) and tasty. I really enjoyed it a lot. We also tried the stews, which were good but not the best I’ve ever tried. The chicken was pretty good, however. The whole experience was definitely worth the trip way out. In fact, we did try going again, but they were closed for vacation. ¡Qué triste!
Lastly, on our friends’ last night, we elected to try La Cupertina, said by Layne to be her favourite empanadas in the city. Being empanadas tucumanas, I can see why. The dough killed me – it was so light and thin. I’ve never seen dough in the city like this (neither has she). Unfortunately, I was feeling under the weather and just got one down – the Tucumán classic, carne a cuchillo (cut meat, rather than ground beef), though it was very tasty. By the way everyone else at the table scarfed their empanadas down, it seemed like they enjoyed their choices as well, a mixture of humita, chicken, beef, and cheese & onion. Another place that is definitely worth a taste on your own Empanada Trail.
And so we’re off to Corrientes to try out empanadas their, then up in Paraguay. Our first international empanadas! Wish us tasting luck…
Cumen Cumen (there’s one on Córdoba around 3000 or so)
La Paceña, Echeverria 2570, 4788-2282
La Cupertina, Cabrera 5296, 4777-3711