GARZON, URUGUAY 45 minutes inland from the beautiful beach of Jose Ignacio in Punta del Este, Uruguay, half Argentine, half Uruguayan chef extraordinairre Francis Mallmamm transformed a tiny town named Garzon and into a welcome refuge free of cosmopolitan tourists basking in Punta’s eternal chicness. He began buying property and eventually created Garzon Hotel and Restaurant in 2004. Housed in one of the oldest buildings by the plaza, there are 5 bedrooms, a library, a dining room with a view of the kitchen all with a shabby chic, French country decor.
Here, the days are long and languid, lounging in a hammock by the pool, by the quincho ( our version of a palapa ) smelling the herbs from the garden compete with the meat and veggies, all local and organic, being cooked in Mallmann’s invention, el infiernillo, or “little hell”, an extremely hot grill which beautifully sears the flavors.
Mallmann’s food never disappoints, I had a grapefruit, fennel and hazelnut salad that was insane, to start…… a braised beet, goat cheese and shaved garlic appetizer and then, the piece de resistance, the best salmon I have ever eaten.
After lunch, I took advantage of the calm and took a walk around town, saw the various studios artists have built, saw British impressionist art dealers Martin Summers marvelous compound, and heard through the grapevine that Mallmann’s good friend Martin Amis was on his way in for coffee. As I sank in the lounge by the pool, I let everything that was not in the moment leave my body, my 6 senses took over as I happily just got to “be” and let the natural calm and quiet beauty of the Uruguayan countryside take me over. Heaven….