Café Buenos Aires
Dish: Mollejas Salteadas
Taste Words: Light-Golden Crisp, Tender, Velvety
Though its name may birth presumptions of deep-fried doughballs frosted with cinnamon lard and served across circuits of southern small-town carnivals, a sweetbread is the culinary term for the thymus gland or pancreas of a young animal (throat sweetbread and heart sweetbread, respectively). Sweet. Meat!
At Café Buenos Aires, a Huntington-based venue that combines Argentinean and Spanish fare, sweetbreads are strictly throat, originate from calves (veal) and are sautéed with leeks, sundried tomatoes and white beans in a garlic sauce. Though other varieties of the crispy, silky-interiored offal are often served (a sauté with black olives, capers and garlic, in a tomato sauce, for example), the current presentation is Café Buenos Aires’ most common. Most popular, too.
“There are hundreds of ways to prepare sweetbreads, like beef, but this has been the best way,” says Hugo Garcia, owner of Café Buenos Aires. A native of Argentina, Garcia opened the restaurant in 2006 with aspirations of making traditional Argentinean cuisine accessible to Long Island palates. “Argentineans usually prefer grilling sweetbreads with minimal seasonings like salt and pepper, but we try to add some American influence to our dishes. It takes away the intimidation and allows people to try foods from different cultures.”
Comparing sweetbread’s texture to veal, “It’s smooth and tender, practically like white meat.” Garcia recommends consuming the four-to-five piece dish amid a “group of close people that make you feel happy.” And more plates of meat. “Food is about happiness and sharing with people that you care about. We focus carefully on our tapas menu, so you can come and sample a little of everything and experience Argentina’s culture through food.”
Pair with Tikal de Mendoza Amorios, a Malbec from Argentina.