Home-brewed beers and southern food – who would have thought this cuisine would show up across the globe in Buenos Aires? In a place known for steak and Malbec, this Cajun-Creole closed-door restaurant became one of the first of its kind in Buenos Aires. Y’all, we were sold.
Run by New Orleans native, Liza Puglia and beer enthusiast brothers, Marcelo and Francisco Terren, they put on a memorable closed-door NOLA (NOLA= New Orleans, Louisiana) Beer Night, a 3- course meal paired with three pints of Broeders beer. Oasis sat down a couple Wednesday’s ago for a taste of the United States’ dirty south and rolled out a few hours later with a very full and satisfied belly.
Sitting down at a large and relaxed communal dining table covered in newspaper, it became anticipation of a down n’ dirty southern meal. The night started with slow cooked black beans with grilled morcilla, pico de gallo and jalapeño cornbread crumble. Morcilla, also called black pudding or blood sausage, sounds a little frightening for the un-adventurous, but the appetizer turned out delectable and nothing to be scared of. Next came the main course – pulled pork braised in orange juice with Yucatan spices on homemade brioche buns and spicy slaw. Just the smell alone made your mouth water. For dessert was dark chocolate mousse with Porter reduction (the guys Porter beer), topped with coffee cream and toasted almonds; a very rich, but not too sweet dessert. The perfect ending to a savory, spice filled meal. All three courses came with a paired beer that truly complimented the tastes of the food. After an extremely satisfying meal, we decided to dig a little deeper with the trio and get to know their story behind this unique closed-door experience.
Oasis: When did your closed-door dinner open and what was the inspiration behind it? Were you one of the first closed doors in BA or did you decide to open once you saw others doing it?
NOLA: NOLA opened in August 2012 with the concept to connect people through food and provide BA with a touch of New Orleans cuisine & Southern hospitality. We weren’t amongst the first doing closed-doors. We checked out a few, realized we had an incredible space and a cuisine that was impossible to find in this city. After countless nights of friends unexpectedly popping over for dinner and trying out my recipes on the local palate, we decided to give it a go and open our doors to the public.
Oasis: How did you select the cuisine? What is your background as a chef and brew master?
NOLA: Liza grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana, possibly the culinary capital of the USA. She grew up eating Creole & Cajun cuisine even though her family is primarily Italian. She studied Culinary Arts at the French Culinary Institute in NYC and worked in the kitchen of a Mexican restaurant in the East Village. The brothers (Marcelo & Francisco) took an organic beer-making course about a year ago in Buenos Aires. Soon after Marce had a dream to celebrate his 30th birthday with his own beer. They started experimenting in the brewery with different recipes and began brewing weekly. Now Francisco is studying to be a wine sommelier (2 year program) and Marce is enrolled in a Beer Masters (1 year) course in BA.
Oasis: What would you say your staple is and/or your most popular dish amongst guests?
Oasis: Where do you hold your closed-door dinner? How did you select this location?
NOLA: We’re located in Palermo Viejo. The exact location is given 24 hours prior to service, only to those who have a reservation. The house has been in the family for a few years and after a massive renovation, we decided that we wouldn’t find anything better. The stunning and prime location is the perfect size for the beginning of our business endeavors.
Oasis: Can you tell me how Liza and Francisco met and how they decided on opening the closed door together?
NOLA: Liza & Francisco met in a hostel in a small coffee town, Juayua, in El Salvador while backpacking back in July 2010. They traveled for 5 months together and ended the trip in Buenos Aires. While traveling they realized how their joint love of food and wine really brought them together and they loved sharing these moments with different travelers. So once Liza relocated to BA, they decided to take their strengths and passion for food, wine & travel and make a business of it.
Oasis: What are all of the beers you brew and what type of beer is paired with each course? When did the brewing start? Besides selling 6-packs to those who attend dinners, can we find your brews anywhere else or do you plan on distributing to stores?
NOLA: IPA, Honey, Triple Belgian, Golden, Porter, Red Lager.
We started brewing a year ago in our Mom’s kitchen. We did our first batch of 20 liter after taking a brewing course. A couple months later, after experimenting and learning about different brewing methods, we decided to turn the spare bedroom on the rooftop into a microbrewery. Since then we’ve been nonstop brewing different styles – most of them Ale’s. We normally make IPA´s (Francisco’s favorite), Scottish Ale’s, Porter, Honey Beer, Golden Ale, and we recently made a delicious Triple Belgian with an alcohol content of 9 degrees (dangerously high).
On our Beer nights we normally start with our lighter styles like Golden ale, a fresh medium bodied style with low alcohol content. It has a smooth balance of malts and hops to warm up the night. For the first dish we normally serve some type of Scottish ale – a malty and smoky style usually served alongside a big stew. Other times we serve the fried chicken with a honey mustard sauce that is perfectly paired with a Honey Beer. Another star of the show is Liza´s Chocolate mousse with a reduction of our Porter and pecans paired with the same Porter beer.
The menu is constantly changing, and the pairing process is a lot of fun. We all work together to build the menu. The brewing process takes around a month. We have a week to 10 days of fermentation, and another 10 days of maturation, so the beer stabilizes and the natural carbonization in bottle take another 10 days.
Nowadays our beer is only available on events at NOLA but we are expanding. Soon our beer is going to be available in some restaurants/bars.
Every Wednesday at 9:30pm
Location given 24 hours prior to service. Reservations only.
Maximum capacity 26 people a night.
by Oasis Correspondent Tara MorrisArgentina, Buenos Aires