The Best Birthday Lunch in My Life!

This is what a birthday suit looks like
on a tour in Argentina.
“In all my 61 years I can say unequivocally without any doubt that this is the best meal I've ever had on my birthday!”

That’s how Duke described our lunch at Bodega Ruca Malen. And several of the rest of us might even rate this the best lunch in our lives all things considered: outdoor formal table setting with a sea of glasses and silver overlooking Cuyo de Lujan vineyards, beautiful sunny day with white billowy clouds over the Andes, exquisite 5 course tasting menu paired with the bodega’s wines, and exceptional table service including fun interactions with the young Chef Lucas at each course.

Warning: The following tasting menu may be hazardous to read if you are hungry or thisty!
Our Argentina gastronomy tour table setting at Ruca Malen bodega.
Two appetizers:
Small goat cheese truffle, dried chilli peppers and greens
Pairing: Yauquen Torrontes 2012 no oak.
Roasted beet terrine on smoked butternut squash cream
Pairing: Yauquen Bonarda 30% aged in oak for six months, refreshing and juicy in the mouth.
Chef Lucas announces each course with laughs and stories.
Quartirolo cheese, crisp sausage and roasted carrots salad accompanied with quince and raspberry preserve.
Paring: Ruca Malen Malbec 2006 a 100% Malbec aged 12 months in 85% French and 15% American oak. After 7 years in the bottle it was in its prime to be uncorked. This course was the start of many subsequent conversations about fermentation in barrels, different kinds of oak, and how the barrels affect the wine on the palette.

Here’s a fun tip for any host how this medley of starters was presented. Chef Lucas explained the challenge of every chef is to explain to his assistants how he wants it presented on the plate. So, in this case Chef Lucas drew a diagram with the names of each item followed by arrows where he wanted them placed, photo copied them and taped them to the underside of the see-through cut glass individual platters. What a fun way to serve a delectable assortment of taste treats!
Here's one of many fun food and wine ideas we learned on our
gastronomy and wine tour of Argentina!
Principal Course:
Grilled steak accompanied with potatoes, tomatoes and onions, roasted with rosemary, raisin chimichurri, black olives and black pepper butter. The vegetarian option was a seasonally rich medley of roasted vegetables fresh from the farm.
A great combination of flavors cooked to perfection!
Pairing (two reds):
Ruca Malen Reserve 2010, 50% Malbec, 30% Cabernet, 20% Petit Verdo. Each of these wines are produced separately and aged for a period of 14 months in oak, 80% French and 20% American. The best barrls are selected, the blend is produced and aged in bottle for a year before going out on sale.
Kinien Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18 months in new oak barrels 90% French and 10% American.

Slices of seasonal fruit accompanied by fresh raspberry sorbet dusted with black pepper.
The black pepper dusted over sorbet and fruit was a delightful surprise
to the palate.
Our Wildland Adventures Argentina tour group posses in the
vineyards after lunch at Ruca Malen.
David also had his birthday on our trip so Roger and his wife Marissa from Arista Wine Cellars had asked to see if we could go in together with them to find a bottle of David's favorite champagne as a birthday present from afar. That too will probably be a birthday David won't forget just becuase it was a busy travel day driving from the Uco Valley back to Mendoza, catching a flight to Salta, then driving 3 1/2 hours over a high pass to Cachi. 
 It wasn't until night fell that we found the right moment to sing happy birthday and present his bottle of Bollinger. We were driving through the mountains and made a roadside stop at a little cafe. The guides set up a lovely snack of cheese, salami, olives and bread. The birthday boy even found a birthday hat of a dried armadillo to pose for pictures. Perfect adornment for this former Texas boy!
David Arista's impromptu birthday suit was a dried armadillo he found at
our roadside stop.
See more information about our Wildland Adventures Argentina Travel Adventures.
Keeping it wild,
Kurt Kutay 
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