Photograph by Jennifer May
The best steak of my life was served at El Trapiche, a charming and perennially packed restaurant in Buenos Aires. It was our second night of vacation in the Argentinian capital, and — finally refreshed from the 13-hour flight — my husband and I were on the hunt for some of the country’s world-famous red meat. While the hour-and-a-half wait outside in the cool fall night grated on my nerves, something told me that our meal would be worth it.
After finally being seated, we struggled with the Spanish menu: I despise anchovies, but somehow ended up with an overflowing platter of them for an appetizer. But clearly some genuine communication had occurred, because half an hour later, two beautiful and succulent steaks magically appeared in front of us. While I tried to get the attention of our very busy waiter to let him know that we needed knives, my husband discovered what we still, to this day, consider a miracle: You didn’t need a knife to cut this steak. It could be cut with a spoon. Need I say more?
That meal was the beginning of an unprecedented carnivore binge that lasted the next eight nights until we finally waddled off for our return flight home. It was 2002, and Argentina’s economic crisis was in full swing. And that, of course, translated into good news for us, as we were able to eat at the top restaurants in this cosmopolitan city for a whopping $25. I’m talking $25 for the two of us to indulge in every appetizer, cocktail, dessert, bottle of wine — and of course, perfect steak — that our (rapidly clogging) hearts desired.
I’d like to report that I got sick of steak during that trip. But I didn’t. Of course we knew it was a once-in-a- lifetime culinary tryst, since we have neither the pocketbooks nor ironclad arteries to live so high on the hog (or the cow, as it may be) at home. Yes, back in the “real world,” steak is a bit of a treat, but I was happy to discover that even in tough economic times, steakhouses continue to thrive. My theory? Life is hard sometimes and a good steak can offer a large degree of down-home comfort. Maybe that’s why, despite a huge focus on healthy eating, steak consumption in the U.S. continues to rise year after year.
Here in the Hudson Valley we don’t see as many “classic” steakhouses as you do in big cities. But you may be surprised at the wide range of options we do have. From a wood-paneled, old-fashioned male mecca serving up Kobe beef; to a family joint where the piano plays all day Sunday, there really is something for everyone. And the quality of the steaks is second to none. So check out our cover story on local steakhouses and get ready to make a reservation.
Of course, steak is not the only game in town. This issue is packed with food, glorious food. We tell you everything you ever wanted to know about sushi, but were too intimidated to ask; fill you in on the latest trend in cocktails; plug the mighty plantain; and outline our favorite prix-fixe meals.
Olivia J. Abel
Editor in Chief