Friday, July 30, 2010

Empanada Soulmate Seach Part I: Rincon Chileno - Hollywood

Besides spanakopita, empanadas are my second favorite dough covered snack in this awesomeness that we call life. I may be biased because I've been eating empanadas for a long time - my dad, half raised in Argentina - as well as a large majority of my relatives in Greece and in California (considering themselves to be more Argentinian than Greek) and the ones still in Buenos Aires who at this point in time are more Argentinian than Greek, have been influential. Sadly, I have yet to visit the country of Argentina - missing all the five day long tango-lessons-included wedding invitations from second cousins with almost the same last name as me and all my Aunt Mary's 50-something high school reunions. Someday. 

In the meantime, I scour the streets of Los Angeles looking for my empanada soul mate. Of course, I'm slightly ruined by my Aunt Mary's Empanadas Criollas that she whips up for special occasions in her humble Athenian kitchen, so I mainly seek out the Espinacas or Spinach ones.

Being a Hel-Mel aka Heliotrope-Melrose junkie (i.e. Scoops, Pure Luck, City College Cafe) it wasn't hard to see the sign across the street from my regular establishments.

 Also, I was curious what Chilean empanadas were all about. Rincon Chileno not only sells empanadas, but pumps out a variety of other Chilean dishes from their kitchen as well as sweet baked goods. The walls of the tiny store are covered with traditional Chilean supermarket shelf goodies.

On a recent visit, I stepped inside to a tray of goodies laid out on the counter:

The most noticeable difference between Rincon Chileno's empanadas and the other Argentinians ones I've had is the dough color. Here it is a golden yellow dough where as the Argentinian ones have all been a regular beige bread color.

I order three empanadas to go: de carne (beef), since they were fresh out the oven ($2.25), de espinaca (spinach) ($2.50) and de espinaca con queso (spinach and cheese, why bother translating?) ($3.50). Now, these are the most expensive empanadas I've ever had, but they are also the largest. Size matters.

The de carne's were stuffed with not only beef but whole black olives, bits of hard boiled egg and sauteed onions. The spice wasn't anything crazy, but the ingredients were fresh and moist. The lack of spice was more than made up for in the chimichurri sauce bursting with garlic and green heat. Ps. I love finding hard boiled egg in my empanadas. Bonus!

Finding an empanada with just spinach (and no cheese) was impressive in itself, quick, someone alert  of this vegan madness! When I first ordered the de espinaca, the guy taking my order questioned me:
"Are you sure you don't want the one con queso?"
I wanted pure spinach, baby. I enjoyed this version, however, hypertension sufferers beware, it's super salty. The dough is dense and chewy/slightly undercooked in parts, but not in careless sort of way. It actually adds to the overall complexity.

The de espinaca con queso empanadas are the version I compare all empanadas with in my smackdown. These ones are stuffed with a mild mozzarella tasting cheese in addition to the salty spinach stuffing. Nice, but I guess deep down inside I was hoping for some boiled egg. It was a colossal and filling empanada, no doubt but I was left wanting someone more (beside a tall glass of water).

Low and behold the menu:

Rincon Chileno
4354 Melrose Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90029


weezermonkey said...

Oh, wow! I must pay a visit!

I haven't had a Chilean empanada since 2007, when we went to Chile. :)

Ruth Abatzoglou said...

Hey Anna,
There are so many types of empanadas but I haven't seen one from Greece. I think you need to develop a "Greek Empanada" maybe something filled with feta and olives or maybe a version of one filled with an eggplant mixture or some type of melizano. I'll be your taster if you like...

stuffycheaks said...

OMG Anna, I'm doing a empanada search myself! Still looking though.. I love eggs in my empanada too (unfor I dont like olives so many empanadas out there havent been to my liking.)I'll need to add this to my list.

Trina said...

Sweet jesus, how have I missed this place?! Those empanadas look amazing. And WE are going to Argentina!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

I love empanadas and those look fantastic! A loovely place.



Banana Wonder said...

Weezermonkey - Please, yes, do it for me so I can salivate while in Portland :)

Ruth - That's a fantastic idea :) Working on it!

Stuffycheaks - Cool! We can compare - I have a few more coming out. I will eat your olives any day .

Trina - Yes vamos a Argentina and I hope you try this place!

Rosa - Thanks :)

Helen said...

Count me in on the love of doughy pockets stuffed with yummy stuff. Does that even make sense? Anyway, I have tasted empanadas maybe 3 times in my life and I'm not even sure they were authentic. I had no idea boiled egg was a must. I think one version I've tasted was vegan (spinach & tofu) and made with whole wheat flour, yeah not very authentic sounding, eh? Your experience with empanadas looks/sounds delish!

Banana Wonder said...

Helen - Whoa! Sounds like you had empanadas at some farmer's market in Eugene, OR?! The hard boiled eggs are classically a Criolla variety, which I like very much.

Kung Food Panda said...

"Size Matters." LOL

I haven't had an empanada since Porto's, so I'm willing to try out more of this good stuff. Though, I'll skip on the first one with olives :)

Helen said...

Haha! Anna, I have always wanted to visit Oregon. I'm a closeted granola head, who occasionally goes on junk food binges. It's on my list of top U.S. places to visit before I die :)

Banana Wonder said...

KungfoodPanda - give me your olives :) I haven't tried Porto's - too distracted by the potato croquettas :)

Helen - Come to Portland instead :) You can be a free granolahead :)