“No Reservations” season 4, episode 14: Uruguay

by Dave


Location: it’s a Bourdain family vacation to Uruguay, the hidden secret of South America. Quietly tucked between beach-strewn Brazil and boisterous Argentina, Uruguay is the unsung hero of grilled meats, beautiful scenery and a quintessential “laid-back” lifestyle.

Bourdain and his brother travel to “Gaucho country” near the village of La Galleja to visit a Uruguayan estancia.

Next up is the sleepy village of Garzon, population 200, where Tony pays a visit to renowned chef Francis Mallmann. Mallman has retreated from the glitzy dining scene of nearby Punta del Este to focus his energies
on simple, traditional Uruguayan cooking. To demonstrate his new focus,
he prepares Tony a meal using the traditional styles of asado – meat cooked between two iron grills, meat cooked in salt crust, vegetables cooked in hot ash and a pascualina spinach-egg pie on the side.

Seemingly satisfied with his time in the interior, Bourdain heads for the coast where he relaxes in Punta del Este, Uruguay’s infamous summer beach retreat for the rich and famous.

The two brothers then head up the coast to the hippie enclave of Cabo Polonio.
They drink at a small bar with a local named Raoul, downing shots of
the local moonshine made from grapes while the bar’s pet penguin,
Pancho, scurries about beneath their feet.

Upon their return to Montevideo, Tony and brother Chris conclude their visit at a raucous street fair featuring chorizo sandwiches, some drum based candombe
music and siete y tres cocktails made from a mixture of red wine and
coke. Though Bourdain and his crew clearly planned the event for
television, the scene quickly becomes a full-fledged party as the
friendly locals notice the commotion and begin to gather. It’s fairly
typical of Uruguay – it just sort of sneaks up on you with its beauty,
its surprising and fantastic food and the unassuming friendliness of
the locals. But don’t expect Uruguay to stay under the radar much
longer – a place this good can only stay a secret for so long.