What happens when American investors meet Argentinian soil and the savoir-faire and energy of its people…and both fall under the influence of French style in architecture and cooking..? Algodon Mansion ! the latest and the best (in my opinion) “boutique hotel” of the capital.
The adventure started with Algodon Wine Estates, in Mendoza, the cradle of our world famous Malbec, and it has ended here, in a Buenos Aires neighbourhood called Recoleta, where French style “petit-hotels” galore. One of these buildings, from 1925, has been recently renovated, to house Algodon Mansion, an exclusive, almost intimate hotel of only ten suites, where French refinement blends with modern luxury and attention to state-of-the-art details.
Lucky girl that I am, I was kindly invited by Executive Chef Antonio Soriano, for a private tour of the hotel that would end in a “tête à tête” lunch !!
I was kindly ushered by Camila, to visit the only room free, (for a question of minutes!) all the others being occupied… I was more than impressed by the exquisite taste in decoration, since it is sober, deprived of unnecessary flashy frills, but only the best materials have been used…and this is the style that I love ! Et oui…The Italian Calacatta marble, French limestone, and Argentinian wooden “lapacho” floors make an impressive statement as soon as you step in….You can take a peek of the spacious rooms here….
After the visit, I was ready to have lunch at their Chez Nous Restaurant…which is representative of a French/Argentinian fusion in cuisine and decoration ! I loved the “bordeaux” colored walls, and the ondulating gold-leaf painted ceiling, that create a perfect cozy atmosphere, far from the bustle and hassle of the city….
Due to my “overdose” of meat since my arrival in Buenos Aires, I decided to go for a more fish/vegetarian menu….but different menus are avalailable to please all tastes…this said, the chef’s personal history is reflected in his cuisine, making of Chez Nous, the perfect balance between French cooking and Argentinian tradition…I decided to have a salad with home-made gravlax, organic sprouts, edible flowers, grilled asparagus, roasted almonds, greens, and an egg perfectly cooked at 63°C on a bed of portobello mushroom purée. Then, home-made tagliatelle, with Patagonian morel sauce and truffles, and for dessert, fig and pistachio frangipane tart, with its mango sorbet !
Interview with Executive Chef Antonio Soriano: Born in France, of Argentinian father, he was brought up in Buenos Aires. He attended the Franco-Argentin Lycée Jean Mermoz (my kids were also there in 2007-2009), then he started Law School at the university of Buenos Aires. After three years, he realized his real passion was not the law but cooking. He starts cooking school in Buenos Aires, where he meets Chef Beatriz Chomnalez (this sort of fairy that has changed the life of many…including mine!) who tells him to go to France, to study there. Chef Soriano graduates at the Cordon Bleu, and begins working in the best Parisian restaurants and hotels, like Hotel de Crillon, etc.
Back in Buenos Aires, he is not only responsible for whatever happens in the kitchens of Algodon Mansion, but only for the philosophy behind it ! The overall project will be not only a cuisine that uses the typical products coming directly from the wine estate in Mendoza: wine, olives and olive oil, but something more ambitious: to provide clients with a cuisine where every single product comes directly from AWE (Algodon Wine Estate), and is therefore pesticide free, natural…chickens living freely in a natural environment, and the Chef pointed out, a cuisine made only with seasonal products to guarantee freshness…
Ready to travel to Northeast Spain, specially invited to the Gastronomic Forum, Girona 2011 (where he will meet Chef Ferran Adrià, among others) Chef Soriano confessed admiring and using molecular techniques but not from beginning to end of a dinner experience, but only for some products or a special effect, texture…”It is a technique to be mastered, but used with moderation”
I was pleasantly impressed not only by the chef’s mastery of cooking techniques but also by his knowledge of arts, music, literature..He told me: ” a chef ‘s knowledge of Fine Arts will inmediately have an imprint on his cooking…I can say my dishes changed after I visited Andy Warhol ’s exhibit…, for instance. Now there are brilliant colors in my dishes…”
I left Algodon Mansion feeling proud, of all these young people of my country, that are working hard and seriously, to raise the bar of Argentinian hotels and restaurants to first-rate world levels…
A stay at Algodon mansion will surely be an experience to be remembered!