Argentine Beef Week is upon us, and who better to ask about the flavors of this beautiful South American country than the Ambassador of Argentina himself, Gustavo Martino

Is it really possible to import beef directly from Argentina to China? Yes, we have great news. From July 2011 Argentina is allowed to export beef to China.

Where can we find this kind of beef - is it just at Obelisco restaurant? Right now, we are sending the first shipment of beef to the Obelisco restaurant here in Beijing, where we are going to be launching an Argentine Beef Week between November 21-26. During that time, consumers will have the opportunity to enjoy the promotional menu based on Argentine beef, wine and other traditional specialties. Of course, in the near future, Argentine beef will be available in many restaurants as importers start distributing in the Chinese market.

What makes Argentinean beef so special? We have very high quality cattle which is fed on wide open pastures. The beef is 100% natural, without hormones or additives, and it is low in cholesterol, resulting in very tender, healthy and delicious meat.

Is it usually grain or grass fed? Most of our cows are grass-fed, in the very well- known Argentine plains, the so-called pampas.

Are there any particular breeds of cows that are especially prevalent in Argentina? Argentina has a long-standing tradition in breeding cows. Many of them came from British breeds such as Aberdeen Angus, Hereford and Shorthorn. The inclusion of these European breeds of cattle improved the quality of our beef which are based on an extensive system in which the cows can graze freely on our grasslands. It has been proven that cows which are fed in this way, produce beef with less intramuscular fat and cholesterol, improving the levels of Omega 3 and Omega 6 which good for your health.

What are the Argentinean cowboys like? The gauchos of Argentina are similar to the North American cowboy. As Argentina traditionally has always been an important agricultural producer, they are very much associated with beef and cattle. And still today, they are a part of our national culture, working hard on vast ranches known as estancias.

Which is your favorite restaurant in Beijing for tastes of home? What dishes do you recommend there? The best Argentine restaurant here in Beijing is the Obelisco. It's a large family-oriented establishment, which offers the famous Argentine barbecue, known as asado. The meat is cooked slowly on the famous Argentine parrillas, using charcoal and wood. For appetizers, I'd recommend starting with an empanada filled with meat, then try the grilled provolone cheese, know as the provoleta, and the Argentine sausage called chorizo, or the blood sausage, the morcilla. As a main course, there are many enticing options like the bife de chorizo (Grilled Sirloin Strip Steak) and the ojo de bife (Grilled Rib Eye Steak). And last but not least, don't miss the traditional dessert flan con dulce de leche (baked custard with caramel sauce).

Apart from Malbec and Torrontes, are there any other kids of wine that you think Argentina should be known for? Argentina is famous for its unique wines, Malbec and Torrontes but as the fifth largest producer in the world, we also offer many other varieties such as Bonarda, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot and Tempranillo for red wines. For whites, in addition to Torrontes, I recommend trying the Chardonnay.

Where are the best places to drink or buy Argentinean wine in Beijing? With such rich variety of fine dining restaurants in Beijing, I am happy to say that you can find excellent Argentine wines on the menu in most of them, particularly Malbec and Torrontes. Also, most of the wine shops and supermarkets have a good selection of Argentine wines.

Could you recommend a bottle that would pair well with an Argentinean steak? Of course. I think any good bottle of Malbec wine would go perfectly well with an Argentine beef asado and is a great combination.


What: Argentine Beef Week

Where: Obelisco

When: Ends Nov 26

Tel: 8470-1888/1666