[PUEBLO GARZON, URUGUAY] — Pueblo Garzon is a one-horse….actually a 75 horse town in the rolling green estancia country of Uruguay’s Maldonado province. It’s a gorgeous 40 minute drive inland from the bohemian chic beach town of Jose Ignacio. The town was practically abandoned until famous Argentine chef Francis Mallmann bought a building and then nearly the whole town to create a movie-set perfect town and install another fine restaurant in his empire. Others, mostly friends, famous and wealthy, have followed, buying up abandoned buildings and creating summer houses, yet preserving the rustic gaucho character of the whole town. Speaking of that, there’s not much to the town, just a few square blocks surround a central plaza. But it is a beautifully scenic and mellow place to go hang for a few days at Francis’ Garzon restaurant and hotel.
This is not Tuscany.
Uruguay is a wonderfully sparsely populated country, with a population the size of than Denver, Colorado in a country about the size of Washington state. But about 80% of the people live in Montevideo and a several much smaller cities and the rest of the land is used for agriculture — so a little over 3 million people, but 10 million cows and 14 million sheep.
I like them odds.
The country is ringed by hundreds of miles of some of the best beaches in the world (which we’ll get to) but inland, inland is the land of the cow.
Hundreds of thousands of acres of rolling pristine grassland… and very few fences. Gaucho culture is still alive and kicking…and lassoing… on huge estancias that dot the horizon. This is home to some of the best beef in the world (sorry @paraonde), where “grass-fed” isn’t an up-sell but the norm.
Good god, it’s good.
Here’s a great article in the Wall Street Journal on Garzon, and in the Financial Times Garzon Uruguay, New York Times on Garzon, and AFAR magazine’s highlights and Saveur Uruguay Wine Country.
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