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Story and Photos by Rick Browne, Ph.B.
Asado Short Ribs
Grilled Veal Steaks with Olive-Tomato Relish
|A chef at Cafe Veronica cooking at a grill jammed with meats and peppers.
I think I found Asado Heaven. You see, in Uruguay asado means barbecue, so here I discovered the most incredible assemblage of asado eateries in the galaxy. And I found it in perhaps the most unlikely spot you can imagine: an old railroad station turned into a collection of 13 barbecue restaurants in Montevideo, Uruguay.
Welcome to the “Sitio Historico Gastronomia, Galleria de Arte et Artisanias” in the Mercado del Porto. As I said, it’s the most incredible barbecue venue on earth. The Mercado is a huge building that once housed a train station in the old port area of Montevideo that has been turned into a barbecue wonderland. Belching railroad engines and steam trains have morphed into belching barbecue grills.
Walking into the huge hall is a culinary & visual shock, one that visitors will never forget. There are blazing barbecues (parrillas) in every direction, dozens of them. Flames crackle and fragrant smoke wafts up into the tallest parts of the building, while the air is filled with the moans of diners tearing into seared meats.
The main hall of this entire building, with a ceiling that soars 30-40 feet high, is entirely filled by 15 asado restaurants, all with flames shooting up from the grills, every inch of which are covered with grilling meat punctuated by an occasional red pepper, whole onion, or thick slice of grilled cheese.
Visitors are awed by the dozens of asadores (BBQ chefs) covering their slanted grills with just about every part of the cow (or pig) that you can imagine. The searing steaks, roasting ribs, and charring chops sending off sizzling sounds and scented smoke lure you in like a siren on a Norwegian rock.
A plate of perfectly-cooked asado.