Tag Archives: Argentina

A carnivores idea of heaven: Carnaval Brazilian BBQ.

With Darlene’s birthday this past weekend we decided that we were due for a fine night out on the town for dinner.  It was just our luck that a the owners of Hermanos Argentinian Steakhouse opened a new South American themed restaurant just down the block Carnaval Brazilian BBQ.


For Winnipeg the concept is quite revolutionary, for a fixed price of $39 per adult an endless buffet of savory meats and side dishes is brought to your table and sliced fresh from a skewer and onto your plate.  Simple in concept and frighteningly efficient in bringing one quickly to the point of entering a meat coma.  But oh so good.  Onetime chef and now author and globe-trotter Anthony Bourdain has said in the past that food and cooking is all about domination and submission.   The diner must be willing to submit to the will of the cooks and the severs to receive the best of what they have to offer.

Carnaval in this case is full on Fifty Shades of Meat, a cruel mistress who only cares about one thing, fulfilling your every dark prehistoric desire for incredibly tender, juicy and wonderfully marbled cuts of slower and tastier creatures than Yes please, I want more.


Our meal began quite simply,  the floor manager welcomed us to our table and instructed us on the workings of the table and the floor staff.  We were each given a coaster, one side printed green with a hungry diner smiling fork and knife at the ready.  This was to be displayed if we wanted the gauchos to bring food to our table.  The other side was printed in red, the diner passed out in blissful slumber as if to say “Please no more, I need a break.”

No thanks

She also explained that family sized portions of side dishes would be brought throughout our meal to accompany the gaucho’s BBQ’d offerings.  Ready, steady, GO!  We cautiously flipped our cards to green, almost instantly a smiling gaucho appeared with a skewer packed top to bottom with roast chicken wings.  Yes, why yes of course I would like some my good man.  The wings were hardly off the skewer when a second gaucho appeared bearing pork chorizo sausage.  All so innocent luring me into their trap.


The wings were crispy and juicy to a fault I gnawed at the wingtips for the crispy goodness and devoured the chorizo with equal fervor.  More and more gaucho’s appeared, skewered chicken thighs, slices of heavenly rare top sirloin, sirloin cap so fatty and crispy and delicious on the outside and so incredibly tender and flavorful on the inside that my eyes rolled up into the back of my head with near  orgasmic delight.


One of the most outstanding wandering table side attractions turned out not to be food at all but a caipirinha trolley.  Where he mixed a very potent Brazilian staple beverage in honor of Darlene’s birthday.  Handing it to her, he whispered sip it slow it, it sneaks up on you.

Our table which was empty at the start of our meal was now packed with side dishes, condiments and the detritus of the meal.  Looking less and less like a fine dining experience but more like a frat party gone horribly wrong.  I had slipped into the dark side and was loving every finger licking, chin mopping crispy skinned and painful sigh as I tried to keep pace with the gauchos.

They looked less like friendly servers now, taking on the visage of black clad, sash wearing delivers of pleasure and pain.  My stomach pleaded with me to stop, full to bursting.  But my meat addled brain wanted more, more lamb, more cap of sirloin, a chicken wing yes please.


Then it appeared, the object to stop my protein psychosis.  A single slab of BBQ pineapple coated in cinnamon and grilled to perfection.  The simple combination of sweet and acid brought everything together. Something so simple almost mundane left me full and complete.


Overall the meal was delicious, however on my next visit I would do things a bit differently to ease into the meal.  Ordering a course of salad or starters from the complementary menu right of the bat seems the way to go.  We were pounded by meat right away and by the time our salads and bread had arrived we were already into full-fledged feeding mode.

This concept for Brazilian BBQ coupled with the quality and know how that the Hermanos ownership group brings to the table, I can’t see Carnaval being anything but a smash hit.

It’s a kind of Magic: Hermanos Argentinian Restaurant

The other night Dar decided that we needed a nice meal out.  To my complete surprise she mentioned a place called Hermanos in the exchange district. “Hermanos?” I mumbled “never heard of it, is it Greek?”  She replied Argentinian.  Instantly the wheels in my creaky mind began to whir and spin to life, Argentinean I bet they do a good steak there I thought.

Reservations were booked on line at Open Table and we were set.  Having never dined at a South American restaurant both of us were intrigued and excited with the menu options that lay ahead. From watching such programs as Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations I knew that the Argentinean diet was one rich in flavour and tradition.  Beefsteak is highly rated, as are many of the seaside dishes native to a coastal South American country.

Arriving at our destination a little early to hunt for parking on the street turned out to be the right call.  The Winnipeg Fringe Festival was in full swing again and street parking was at a premium.  Luckily thanks to Dar’s eagle eyes she spotted a van leaving a parking stall and I was on it in a heartbeat.

I love exploring the century old rabbit warren that is Winnipeg’s Exchange District.  Not only is it home to many of the summertime festivals that come alive in the warm few months we have, but it is also home to many eclectic and excellent restaurants.  Seemingly they sprout up like mushrooms, popping up in a previously vacant building or renovated warehouse. Sadly though most hardly make it a season before they paper up the windows and another moves in to take its place.

Thus it is understandable how I could miss Hermanos.  Apparently open since 2009 and thriving with top rated food literally only a few kilometres from my front door. Upon entering the front door at 179 Bannatyne Ave a sense of familiarity washed over me, the strong century old stonework braced with thick wooden beams mixed well with the leather chairs and low tables in the lounge area of the restaurant.  The bar stood front and centre acting as a divider between the lounge and the dining area.  Reserve bottles of high end liquor were gracing the shelves behind the barmen.

The menu spoke of simplicity and rustic goodness.  As I expected, beef and seafood featured prominently, the chef taking a light approach with naming of some of the dishes.  Peru meets Lake Winnipeg for example features a classic South American staple, ceviche prepared with Lake Manitoba walleye pike. Of course we had to try it.

Civiche and hot fresh potato chips.

Our starters of ceviche and fresh fried potato chips were quick to arrive.  The chips were hot, light and crispy.  Splashed with a sprinkling of sea salt and served with a delicious aioli dip.  The ceviche came marinated in a refreshing traditional citrus mixture and served upon a bed of sweet red onions and corn.

The fish was so light and flaky that one had to keep reminding themselves they were actually eating local walleye.  Freshness is obviously key to this kitchen staff.

Our server Vanessa returned to take our selections for the main course, we both selected beef rib eye steaks each done slightly differently to accommodate sharing.  I selected the Baby Cabrera, dusted with a house rub and served with a drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar and port wine reduced bacon and mushrooms.

Darlene chose a simple rib eye treated with coarse sea salt and Brazilian vinaigrette. Our sever was quite knowledgeable in both the menu and wine list and helped us to select an exclusive Uruguayan red wine to pair with our beef.

Dear readers as many of you know I am a huge fan of grilling and of the rib eye steak in particular.  I take great pride in serving my guests a top notch seasoned well-marbled and tender cut of beef.  The steak that I was about to bite into was simply the finest, most tender, and hands down the most delicious single piece of meat I have ever put into my body PERIOD.

When the meal came, the presentation looked simple but effective, steak alongside broccoli and pepper served with a little pot of garlic mashed potato.  The aromas were quite appealing and my steak appeared to be cooked correctly rare.  Earlier Vanessa quite properly inquired if I did indeed want a proper rare steak, as the grill man was very accurate and rare to him is a cool centre with blood visible.  I replied, that I liked my steak just the other side of mooing, and she trotted off visibly assured.

Baby Cabrera with sides

Cutting into my choice cut of rib steak, I could not help but notice the ease in which my knife sliced into the charred flesh.  The inside cross section proved my suspicion, the inside remained dark red with tan and brown radiating towards the surface.  I have never indulged in hard drugs; to me a fine meal easily beats out that particular vice.  With my first bite it was like someone had shoved a spike full of some wonderful endorphin into my veins and pushed the plunger down hard.  My eyes instantly closed as my primal senses took over, the blood and grilled textures mingling over my taste-buds blocking out all other stimuli.  The supreme tenderness of the beef defying the need to chew as the small piece seemingly melted away in my mouth.

Slowly the room started to permeate my peripheral senses again, my eyes fluttered open to see Darlene staring, grinning and almost laughing at my reaction. “That good eh?” she laughed, the words coming in waves to my still blissed out brain stem as I managed a nod.

The funny thing with most pleasure seeking behaviour is that the second hit is never ever as good as the first; you always end up chasing that virginal high.  This particular steak though broke that rule into a thousand flavour filled shards. The rush just kept coming and coming, every bite seemingly better than the last. Like someone had dusted my steak with powerful Argentinean opiates instead of seasoning.  Fat, lean it didn’t matter I moved around the cut trying to find a bad piece, something to snap me out of my meat filled delirium. Impossible!

Normally I am all about the total flavour profile on the plate, how do the vegetables work with the protein, how does the wine pair?  That night though I charged headlong down the rabbit hole and fell under the powerful dark magic that is an exquisitely cooked rib steak.

Overall I would have to rate Hermanos Argentinian Restaurant to be one of those fabulous five star gems that I wish I had found earlier, but one that I will definitely be returning to in the near future.

Authors Note: I am not the only one who has gone crazy over Hermanos. Winnipeg Free Press , Where Winnipeg and Winnipeg Sun have all given stellar reviews to this hidden jem in Winnipeg’s Exchange District.

Hermanos on Urbanspoon

Festival du Voyageur: A Pictorial Post

In my last post I promised all of you a spectacular look at the spectacle that is the Festival du Voyageur international snow sculpture symposium.  Teams come from every corner of the globe to show off their best work to the demanding crowds here in Winnipeg.  Of course one would expect a number of teams from Canada and the northern United States, but would you expect to see teams from China, Spain, Mexico, or Argentina?

Winnipeg supplied the snow and the cold, they supplied the imagination and skill to turn simple snow and ice into a fantasy walk through the festival grounds.  Here for your viewing enjoyment are the best of the best, enjoy.

How they all began.

Awaiting carvers outside the fort.

Park entrance: Sled dogs on the run.

Sled dogs (close up)

Riding the sled.

Sled and riders (front view)

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