Enrique De Nicola and his sister moved to Sydney with a dream of sharing their family’s love of food. Now Estilo Buenos Aires is renowned for being one of the few non-Italian restaurants in the streets of Haberfield. But as Enrique reveals, Argentinian menus take the best of cooking styles from all over the world.
What sets Argentinian food apart?
Argentinian cuisine has a lot of Spanish and Italian influence mixed with traditional [local] food. These cultures embraced the ability to use good quality produce that the country is known for, making some basic dishes even more appealing. A great part of this is the abundance and quality of our meat, which is cooked in a special way.
What are the essential ingredients of the Argentinian Parrillada? Can you make it at home?
A typical parrillada (mixed grill) consists of different parts of the cow like short ribs, skirt, chinchulines (chitterlings), sweetbread, chorizos, morcillas (black sausage); you can also add chicken or other types of meats. We don’t marinate any of the meats but we have chimichurri, a combination of spices with oil that you put on the meat just before you eat it. The best way to cook a parrillada at home is either using a Webber type grill or, if possible, setting a grill up on the floor and using wood charcoal.
What meal have you eaten in Australia that has left an impression?
You can’t beat prawns on the barbie. Australia has some of the best seafood in the world. But I get a bad impression from the meat pies, I always wonder what’s in them!
What meal will you never be able to make as well as your mum?
Being from Southern Italian parents, it has to be potato croquettes and arancini. The way she made them were unique and delicious.
What do you think is the most important thing to teach the next generation of Australians about food?
Simple fresh food is the best, having a nice thick juicy steak with a salad and a glass of red in front of you can be most enjoyable. Also that food is not just about flavour, but sociability. Sitting at the table with family or friends for a long time chatting and joking is a really important part of life for Argentinian communities. We call it ‘sobremesa’.
Estilo Buenos Aires: 78 Ramsay St, Haberfield
This is spread over cooked meat, the same way as chimichurri is. Some people, like me, find it even better!
1 Red capsicum, seeded, chopped into small squares
1/2 Green capsicum, seeded, chopped into small squares
½ Yellow capsicum, seeded, chopped into small squares
1 Brown onion, finely chopped
1 Clove garlic, finely minced
1 Tablespoon parsley, finely chopped
1 Tomato, seeded and chopped into small squares
1/2 Tablespoon oregano
1/4 Cup white vinegar
1/2 Cup vegetable or sunflower oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix all of the ingredients together and serve with barbecued meat.
You can enjoy this sauce fresh but it’s better if you let the ingredients sit for a couple of hours so the flavours combine.