Comida Porteño: Bebidas (Drinks) and a Pinguino in Action

pisco drinksPeter, displaying a Pisco Sour (L) and Porteño (R)

The Comida Porteño opened with two pisco cocktails, prepared with expert precision by Nalin.  Pisco is a grape brandy produced in Peru and Chile, and popular throughout South America.  The classic pisco is the Pisco Sour, a light drink made frothy with egg white.  Nalin’s other offering was the herbaceous Porteño, created by *** in Portland.  This drink features the Italian bitter, Fernet-Branca.  According to Wikipedia, this was originally developed in Milan in 1845 by the Italian Maria Scala as a stomach medicine.


Pisco Sour

2 oz. pisco
1/2 oz. simple syrup
1/2 oz. lemon juice, fresh-squeezed
2 oz pasteurized egg whites

Shake vigorously with ice, pour into martini glass

2 dashes Angostura bitters over the foam


(Adapted from a recipe by Murray Stenson of Zig Zag Cafe in Seattle.)


3/4 ounce bourbon

1/2 ounce Fernet Branca

1/2 ounce cherry brandy (I used Cointreau)

1/2 ounce fresh lime juice

1/2 ounce Falernum or simple syrup

After a compare-and-contrast session discussing the relative merits of the two pisco cocktails, we sat down to share a bowl of Yerba Mate.  This merits a post of its own, so you’ll need to return next week for that story.

Finally, we sat down to our expertly prepared multi-course Porteño meal.  Sommelier Dave did an excellent and creative job with the wine pairings (see his notes, below).  We also enjoyed a chance to drink wine poured from pinguinos, as demonstrated in the video clip here.  The pinguinos are both cute and sinister, with the red wine looking a little like blood emanating from their mouths.  But mainly cute.


1) Lustau Light Fino “Jarana” Sherry-

Paired with cheese and corn humita empanadas.  In retrospect, I would have gone with a light sherry with more interest (e.g., an oloroso).

Country: Spain

Region: Jerez

Grape Variety:  Palomino

2) Valdespino Amontillado ‘Contrabandista’- paired with shortrib empanadas

Country: Spain

Region: Jerez
Sub-Region:Manzanilla-Sanlúcar de Barrameda
Grape Variety:  Palomino  Pedro Ximenez


Domaine Charles Audoin 2006 Rose’ (Marsannay) Burgundy region


Niepoort 2011 Doci’l Vinho Verde

Paired with locro, and wanted a cross-the-board white for non-red drinkers.


Malbec from Argentina, brought back by our hosts Chris and Diana

Dessert (Alfajores and Tres Leches Cake)

1985 Graham’s port

This post is part of the second Spicebox Supperclub, the Comida Porteño con Sabor Latino, celebrating the food and drink of Buenos Aires, Argentina.  Coming up next: what is yerba mate, and what do you do with it?

Spicebox Supperclub Numero Dos: Comida Porteño con Sabor Latino


We’re back! For our second Spicebox Supperclub, we travelled vicariously through our gracious and dashing hosts, Chris and Diana, who prepared an ambitious (and meaty) menu inspired by their recent trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Chris and Diana dressed the part: Chris wore a tux with a fearless scarlet shirt underneath, and Diana worse a gossamer long black gown with lovely embroidered flowers.  They looked ready to tango, but alas, we were not so lucky to be treated to a performance.

We were warned beforehand: Argentine cuisine loves meat.  There was meat in nearly every course, save the cocktails and dessert.  When there was not meat, there was liquor, starting with the cocktails and ending with dessert.

Chris and Diana were the only ones in the Supperclub who had been to Buenos Aires, but they shared some of their new cultural knowledge.  The beautiful tablescape was flanked with several pinguinos, or penguin shaped wine carafes, a popular way to serve house wine dating to mid-Century Buenos Aires.  (It’s surprisingly difficult to find information on the history of these cute wine vessels, but according to one blog, the only reason for their popularity is that Argentina is home to four species of penguins.)

We also learned about the ritual of sharing a gourd of yerba mate, which we’ll revisit in an upcoming blog post.

Finally, “Porteño” refers to residents of Buenos Aires.

All of this information made the rest of us want to experience Buenos Aires for ourselves.  Chris and Diana advised us, based upon their experience, to make sure to include a full weekend in Buenos Aires– because that’s when the city comes to life, starting with markets and finishing with nightlife going late into the night.  Duly noted!

Here’s what we ate:

Spicebox Supperclub Numero Dos, Saturday, November 23, 2013

Comida Porteño con Sabor Latino 

Hosts: Chris and Diana

Executive Chef: Chris

Bartender:  Nalin

Sommelier: Dave

Pastry Chef: Linda



Pisco Sour


Ritual Drink

Yerba Mate

Small Plates

Empanadas de Carne y Empanadas de Humita



Main Courses

Parilla: Bife de Ojo (rib eye) y Entraña (skirt steak) con Chimichurri Argentino

Spinach torta



Tres Leches Cake

And for a musical lagniappe, here’s “Buenos Aires” from 1996’s “Evita,” a personal favorite of Peter’s.  It will get you in the mood for the rest of our Buenos Aires/Porteño dinner (and hopefully you’re a fan of Madonna and musicals!).

Come back in the next few weeks, where we’ll be posting the details and recipes from our Porteño dinner.