Argentina is famous for hot summer nights, charcoaled and wholesome meats, fantastic drinks and the positive energy of the locals; La Boca is our splash of South America. We were invited to try some of the La Boca menu that will be featuring in their cookbook 'Stories & Recipes From An Argentinean Chef'. Written by Head Chef Nicolas Arriola, he was discovered in Argentina by Stamford Hotels management and brought to Adelaide just two years ago to bring flavour to our city. The meals we tried from the menu will be mentioned below as (featured) in the book, so you can make them at home with your trusty new cookbook!
We began an unforgettable night in the Presidential Suite of the Stamford Plaza Adelaide, where we were spoiled with cocktails and appetisers before heading downstairs to feast. La Boca had our mouths watering from the moment we sat down in front of the hot charcoals, as we watched our food be prepared and plated in front of us! It is a beautifully set restaurant with contrasting colours and decor that brings modern Adelaide into a vibrant Southern American inspired space; after work drinks would go down a treat here.
As tradition goes, we began with cold picadas (entreé in Portuguese), which had a variety of La Boca's own house cured charcuterie on a slice of dark rye bread with local cheeses. This was the perfect start to the night and was a great balance between salt, spice, sweet and sticky. Their beautiful Argentinian chorizo and sliced pork scotch (featured) matched a fantastic blue cheese on the crunchy rye. Soon these meats will be available for purchase, so keep an eye out!
Hot picadas followed a featured selection of fresh oysters with criolla sauce, smoked scallops with sweet tomato pesto, and grilled prawns with garlic and lemon sauce. This is how seafood should be eaten; hot off the charcoal and oozing with flavour! A perfect starter to nibble on with a refreshing glass of white wine on a balmy night with some friends.
Next was our favourite part of the night, not just to eat but to watch how it was assembled onto the plate. A mix of asador cooked meats was coming our way and we couldn't have been more keen. The asador grilling method comes from hundreds of years of cooking a whole animal over an open fire of wood and charcoals for six or more hours, and the grill in La Boca was handmade by Nicolas' own uncle in Argentina #authenticAF. Watching Nicolas in his element as he carved, cut and plated our meats was captivating, almost like dinner and a show.
We tried the selection of crackling pork belly (featured), beef brisket, and lamb leg... for good measure. Each meat was outstanding as they'd all been roasting since 8am that morning, but the winner of the night was the pork *applause please* tender and soft with beautiful flavours, filling but not rich, and the crackling was ah-mah-zing! Easily the best crackling pork belly we've seen thus far in Radelaide. The depth of flavour throughout the meats was unbelievable, unlike anywhere we've tasted before. The cooking process made a huge difference taking the beef, lamb and pork from barbecued meats to outta-this-world-smokey-woody-charcoaly-goodness, a meat-lovers heaven!
Last but definitely not least, the famous 'Choccotorta' for dessert. A traditional Argentinian chocolate, coffee and caramel cake, layered similarly to a tiramisu, but instead of lady fingers they used chocolate biscuits and cocoa powder that brings the awesomeness to a new level, and who doesn't love chocolate right? It was like a mousse with crunchy biscuits, a caramel flavour throughout it and a backdrop of espresso to finish the mouthful. The dessert to end all desserts *insert heart eyes emoji here*.
Our experience at La Boca was beyond fabulous with South American vibes, charcoal aroma, tastes of South Australian produce, and sips of cool drinks. It is the place to be for any time of year. Melbourne fans get keen because La Boca will be opening its doors in June to bring Argentina to you! Nicolas has featured on Thursday February 11 on SBS Food Safari but the episode is available to watch online in case you missed it, he's a brilliant chef and a genuine bloke, get 'round him!
The cookbook will be available at any trusty bookstore. Check out the La Boca website, Facebook and Instagram pages for up to date news on their products and new horizons! We'd like to personally thank Nicolas Arriola, Jade Ward, Jessica Battams, Stamford Plaza Hotels and Resorts and La Boca Bar and Grill staff for a wonderful evening and for being fantastic hosts, we can't wait to return again soon.
All images via Alexia Frangos.