Tag Archives: dourado

Uruguay, more than “parrillas”

25 Sep

If you’ve been following this blog you must have noticed my appreciation for a neighbouring country, Uruguay (I live in southern Brazil and only around 200 km from the Uruguayan border).  I’ve written about “parrilladas“, the national Uruguayan dish, as well as about my fishing experience in the Salto Grande dam.  Let’s return to this lovely town.

Salto (official site here – sorry, only in Spanish), was stablished in 1756 by the governor José Joaquim de Viana, who was on a mission related to the settlement of frontiers between Spanish and Portuguese colonies.  Salto faced a great population increase after 1860, with the arrival of  European settlers, specially  from Italy, Spain and Portugal.  Around Salto, one of the largest touristic destination in Uruguay, you can find several hot spring areas, particularly “Termas de Dayman” (around 15 km south of Salto) and “Termas de Arapey” (around 90 km north of Salto).

"Termas de Dayman" (hot springs around 15 km south of Salto/Uruguay)

"Termas de Dayman" (hot springs around 15 km south of Salto/Uruguay)

Today, with around 100,000 inhabitants, Salto maintains a charming and relaxing atmosphere.

Downtown Salto/Uruguay

Downtown Salto/Uruguay

Walking around downtown with my wife and some friends (Renan and Leila), on a beautiful  summer day, my attention was called by a small restaurant called “La Trattoria” (Calle Uruguay, 754 – GPS:  S31 23.245 W57 57.969), a clear reminder of the Italians who arrived after 1860.

La Trattoria - downtown Salto/Uruguay

La Trattoria - downtown Salto/Uruguay

We walked in and let me tell you, no regrets.  The food was very well prepared and the house wine just up to the Uruguayan tradition.  One distinctive feature of Uruguayan wine production is the Tannat, a red grape generally ignored in the rest of the New World but very important in this small and wonderful country.  It matched just fine the meat lasagna (a la Bolognesa), plenty of muzzarela and a rich tomato sauce.  Final price? Around US$12,00/person, wine included.

Lasagna form "La Trattoria" - Salto/Uruguay

Lasagna form "La Trattoria" - Salto/Uruguay

The whole experience in Salto was a definitive proof that Uruguay has much more to offer than just “parrilladas” (although they continue to be my favorite Uruguayan creation).

Tannat Grapes on Foodista
Lasagna on Foodista

Grilling Gold in Uruguay

3 Jul

I’ve already posted a few lines on this wonderful Uruguayan invention, the “parrilla” (See “Parrillada in Uruguay“), a traditional system for preparing the not less marvelous Uruguayan beef. But, there is much more.

One of the activities I enjoy is fishing, what I usually do at Cassino Beach (GPS 32”.162283 Lat. S, 52.110901 Long. W), the largest beach in the world, extending for over 200 km, from the Patos Lagoon estuary to the Chuy River, at the Brazilian border with Uruguay. This time I decided to try my luck with freshwater fishes, and thus headed to the city of Salto (GPS 31.389126 Lat. S, 57.958374 Long. W), right beside the Uruguay River, which separates Uruguay and Argentina. The reason is the existence of the “Salto Grande” dam, an hydroelectric plant shared by these 2 countries, as it has created an excellent environment for fishing “dourados” (in Portuguese) or “dorados” (in Spanish).

Salto Grande dam at the Uruguay River (border between Uruguay and Argentina), during low water

Salto Grande dam at the Uruguay River (border between Uruguay and Argentina), during low water

“Dourado”, wich means “golden”, is also known as the “tiger of the river” or “tiger-fish” due to its voracious appetite. Its scientific name is Salminus brasiliensis (but also known as Salminus maxillosus or Salminus affinis), which means “little salmon from Brazil”. In fact, it belongs to a quite different fish group, being much more related to the piranhas than to salmons and trouts, although they play a similar biological role in the environment (same niche). It’s very appreciated in sport fishing due to its bravery and resistance, as well as its size (it may reach up to 20 kg).

Enough of information, lets fish. Well, after spending a whole morning on a small boat on the Uruguay River, just beside the Salto Grande dam, one 4 kg fellow decided to bite my hooks. Wonderful catch.

No, I'm not lying.  And here is the proof.

No, I'm not lying. And here is the proof (note the beautiful golden color = dourado)

What to do with it? As we were in Uruguay, grill in a “parrilla”, of course. And so it was. We (our friends Renan and Leila, my wife and I) brushed the fish with some olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper only, lighted a good wooden fire in a “parrilla”, and put the fish to grill over the charcoal for a few of minutes. Impossible to have a fresher dinner.

Grilling the golden tiger in a "parrilla"

Grilling the golden tiger in a "parrilla"

The taste was mild and clean, and was matched with a demi-sec Spanish cava.

Although we were fishing in fresh water the price was rather salty, as the fish alone costed US$ 160,00 (the cost for renting the boat and the fishing gear for me and my friend). There was also the cava, salad, wood…..well, you can add this up, if you care to know the total amount spent. But I bet you won’t get it right, as I can’t even imagine the price of the adventure, the taste and specially of the good memories.

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