Hi - i'm a college student planning a three-month trip to Argentina, and am wondering if any of you all have any recommendations for what to do there. I would like to volunteer, doing something related to food, farming, agriculture, or cooking. I'd love to hear others experiences! Thanks!
I don't know how long this post will stay on the board, but, I wonder what you could find in Mendoza? Oh I would love to spend 3 months there volunteering at vineyards and farms!
You're in the exact same position I was in last year. Unfortunately, I didn't have much help, but here's been my experience.
First of all, get to know the Guia Oleo--it's your best friend in Buenos Aires. It has kind of a Yelp-like ranking system for restaurants in BA. Here's the link: http://www.guiaoleo.com.ar/
As for the top restaurants/eateries in the country that I can personally guarantee, here's the list:
1. La Bourgogne: If you want a splurge, this is the best place to do it. Refined French cuisine just like you'd find in any place in the First World, and with some of the best ambience, too. There are too locations--one in a winery in Mendoza, and one in BA.
2. La Cabrera (Buenos Aires): The biggest tourist trap on the planet, but boy is the steak good. The Ojo de Bife is to-die-for, served on a gigantic platter that can feed a family on its own, with 16 delicious sides. And the chocolate volcano isn't a bad deal either.
3. Persicco: My favorite gelateria, serving up gelato that is extremely flavorful and very unique, compared to most of the others in the area. It's all over BA.
4. Sarkis (Buenos Aires): I'm Armenian, so this place speaks to my heart. It's located right on Calle Armenia, and it serves Armenian food so good that I can't even find that same quality in LA. The kabobs are dull, but the rice dishes (Persian Rice!) are amazing.
5. 1884 Francis Mallman (Mendoza): Another huge splurge, but this place is so good that it was at one point ranked the 7th best restaurant in the world by the San Pellegrini Guide, probably the most prestigious list of restaurants in existence. It's a simple steakhouse, but refined to a different level, with service that is about the friendliest, most helpful, and most charming in the whole country. And the meat's again cooked perfectly.
6. Azafran (Mendoza): A better deal than the last, with probably some of the most unique food in the area. It's especially known for having the best wine list within the city, saying a lot, considering Mendoza is wine country.
I couldn't go into extreme detail here because of the sheer number of restaurants, but if you need further help, I've written full reviews on my blog: http://www.thefoodbuster.com/.
Hope that helps!
If you are interested in farming and agriculture you could try WOOFing where you can volunteer on farms. I have never done it but have met people who have. Check on line. There is so much info on WOOFing. Good luck!
What a great trip! Mendoza is definitely where you want to head--depending on the time of year you could work in processing olive oil, (June is olive harvest) or everything else (fruit and grapes) which happens mostly in March.
A few ideas for you: Vines of Mendoza (www.vinesofmendoza.com) has a vineyard in Uco Valley in the Andes, I'm sure Michael Evans would be happy to find a place 'interning' for you.
Molino La Tebaida is in San Martin, a half hour from Mendoza, they have a small pension and artisan olive oil press. Here's a link to a post I wrote with contact information: http://tinyurl.com/2cn5rv8
1884 is a great idea, too, Francis Mallmann's head chef there is named Vanina Chimeno, she is on facebook and could hook you up with work at the restaurant. Mallmann's other restaurants, in BsAs and Uruguay may also be an option for you.
You could try contacting Gabriela at Finca Adalgisa, she runs a small B&B and vineyard near Mendoza, it's lovely. They also have a chaarity/community outreach project. Their wine is called Neu Horizons in the US, and is fair trade. Marc Weiss is their oenologist.
Or if you want a truly 'rustic' experience--you could visit my husband's family in Bowen! ;) It's 3 hours south of Mendoza, and they run a plum and fruit farm there. Everything in that area is like a trip back in time and focused on agriculture. Shoot me an email if you are interested, and I could put you in touch with the right people. (they also don't speak English).
Good luck and HAVE A GREAT TIME!!