Argentina didn’t originate the empanada. Wikipedia credits Spain and Portugal with the first empanadas at least 500 years ago. However, Argentina is serious about their empanadas.
We have tried empanadas in other Latin America countries we have visited but so far the most impressive we have encountered were at La Casa de las Empanadas in Cafayate, Argentina.
We went there in order to try their empanadas and their locro, which is a thick meat and vegetable stew. We found that their menu offers 12 varieties of empanadas. Since we were also going to have some locro, we chose to try numbers 1 through 8 on their list of empanada varieties.
If you look carefully at our 8 variety selection, you will notice that each empanada has unique characteristics to its shape or the way it is folded. This is referred to as a repulque or pattern so that the contents of the empanada can be discerned by identifying its pattern.
We found the empanadas to be delicious. Beginning with the crust which is slightly crispy and a little flaky. These empanadas are baked which is the custom in this part of Argentina. In other places, they will more commonly be fried. The variety of ingredients used in their different empanadas is very creative with delicate flavors and wonderful tastes.
For example, one of my favorites was number 4, Calchaqui, made with goat cheese, corn, onion, bell pepper and basil. Another flavorful variety was number 8, Turca, with blue cheese, tomato and garlic.
For us, these empanadas brought an appreciation for this little snack that transcends any previous experience. The restaurant itself is modest and the service was unimpressive, even indifferent, but the empanadas were heavenly.
Oh, the locro was pretty good, too.