Warming things up: Winter Dining in Bariloche

Cool temperatures, fresh days outside, longer nights and that gentle quiet that winter brings – it all warms your heart. Cuisine in Patagonia takes a major turn to the hardy this time of year. Menus focus on stews, warm casseroles and soups.

Specialty bistros offer up locally-inspired versions of that Alpine classic fondue, Hungarian goulash with Spaetzle and that staple of the Italian Alps, polenta – a hodge-podge of Bariloche’s rich Alpine heritage with proven track records of hitting the spot during wintertime in the mountains. The area was, of course, settled by many immigrants from mountainous Europe, who brought their comfort foods with them.

Winter veggies are also familiar to anyone from a non-tropical climate – squash, cabbage, brussel sprouts and broccoli take over from cherry tomatos, avocados and cucumbers.

Those late summer meals enjoyed on a deck overlooking the lake turn indoors, nestled in close to a fire. A fine glass of rose turns to schnapps, or a vino tinto with mucho cuerpo to cut through the cheesey gooeyness.

The wintertime gaucho has got his poncho firmly placed over thick wool sweaters, his britches pulled tight, long wool socks under his tall boots and his woolen hat tucked just to the side.

One of the things I love most about ski season in Patagonia is the wealth of dining options up on our local hill. Back in North America, slope-side dining has taken a turn for the way worse – burgers, burgers and more burgers.

Up at Catedral, you can ski from chalet to chalet, sampling a variety of fresh and healthy options. If I were you, I’d try a guiso de lentejas (lentil stew) or a hot-out-of-the-oven pizza napolitano. Pair either with a bottle of Malbec (Navarro Correas, perhaps), stretch your legs, and enjoy the slow pace and warm cozies.

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