Just two hours from Buenos Aires, you will find a remarkable estancia that distills the charm of Argentinian gaucho tradition in a truly beautiful setting.
La Bamba de Areco is a series of elegant, renovated farm buildings set against a backdrop of grassy fields. This is where the horses which compete in the most prestigious polo tournaments in England are trained. If you love to ride, then this is a terrific destination. But for those of us who love Argentinian hospitality, wine and the famous asado meals, it is also a wonderful oasis and an easy escape from the vibrant city.
Arriving at La Bamba, you are met by Maria, your hostess, and introduced to the lovely staff who are one of the main reasons you will have such a fantastic time here. You might begin your stay with a glass of wine in the converted brick barn, which houses a delightful bar and lounge. The main building is a red tower, with a living room (where cocktails are served every evening) and a dining room designed for large, family-style dinners.
A typical day at La Bamba might include a horseback ride through the grounds (perfectly suitable for beginners like me), accompanied by one of the gauchos who works on the ranch. Sweet and lively dogs, like Zamba, the golden retriever puppy, will become your informal companions when you’re outside. You may then indulge in a dip in the pool, followed by a glass of white wine in preparation of lunch.
The asado for lunch is really one of the most incredible experiences you will ever have. Together with the other guests, sitting at a long table set out on a terrace opposite a wood-burning grill, you will be served one expertly grilled course after another. Starting with a lightly charred courgette and red pepper served with a small pork sausage, followed by a grilled chicken thigh with crispy skin, which is perfectly smoked and seasoned, followed by one of the many courses of grass-fed beef that Argentina is justifiably renowned for.
You will think it impossible to eat another thing and yet you will somehow find room for some grilled pork, followed by another beef course, accompanied by a few glasses of Malbec. At this point, you would happily admit defeat, but then you are served a dulce de leche crepe, which has also been cooked on the grill and a very strong coffee. The coffee may be strong, but not strong enough to prevent you sneaking in a siesta. This is a most wonderful way to eat, totally relaxed, focussing on the simple things, outdoors, next to the fire and set in the heart of nature: civilized and yet seemingly transporting you to a different world.
Can you describe the gaucho style and how that style is reflected in the property?
The gauchos are in charge of the cattle, horses, grounds and outdoors and they enjoy their outdoor life. Gauchos used to travel, taking cattle from estancia to estancia, or ranch to ranch, and are part of our history. Gauchos love their horses and their knives - their knife has a very important meaning for them and you will never find a gaucho without his knife. They are good at working with leather and make their own saddles.
The estancias in Argentina have been the home of many gauchos, and their way of life can be seen in the style and décor of their houses: they feature large amounts of leather and wood, deep earthy colours, antique decor; gauchos never throw anything away as for them, everything can be used again and is a source of memories.
At the estancia, we have preserved this gaucho style, in particular in our decor, combining antique objects with a modern and luxurious style.
Can you talk about the food at La Bamba? What are the traditions that you have tried to maintain?
At La Bamba, the main meal is lunch: the traditional asado or barbecue. A selection of cuts of meat, prepared in the traditional Argentinian way, served with salads and various potato dishes. When the gauchos work full days, they will find some shade to stop for lunch and will light a fire to cook a piece of meat and some eggs or potatoes. In Argentina, the asado is a genuine tradition. On weekends, we tend to meet up with family and friends to share an asado. This is one of the traditions we are trying to maintain by inviting our guests into our house and sharing a big asado with them.
Although somewhat more formal, dinner is also a tradition for us. It is the norm in Argentina to have dinner with your family every night. That is why at La Bamba, we have a large dinner table and also choose to share this meal with our guests.
Another classic is the beef empanadas. This is more traditional in the countryside – not a day goes by without empanadas!
What are some of your favourite details (design, dining, architecture) in respect of the estancia?
The design is delicate but keeps the gaucho style alive. There is a combination of Argentinian and European decor through the use of a lovely, harmonious palette of colours, regional textiles, antique objects and a warm and rich aroma envelops the property. Our stirrup collection in the living room illustrates a large part of the history of artisans who were themselves Gauchos and passed this tradition from one generation to another