Interview with Floro Lavalle, one of Argentina’s most esteemed and experienced lodge managers and guides.

I recently visited Chacu lodge in Salta, Argentina and got to know a most interesting Argentine, his name is Floro Lavalle.  He probably knows as much about the history of Argentina bird hunting as any lodge owner, manager or guide currently working in the industry.   Additionally, he is a two handicap golfer and personal friends with former Masters Champion, Craig Stadler.  I invited him to share some time with us here at shootingexpeditions.com and I think you will enjoy the short interview he did with me.

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Floro, you were born and raised in Argentina, tell us where you were raised and about your childhood and how you got interested in hunting?

I was born in BA many moons ago. I studied here and went to college to study economics  and worked many years in the banking industry. I started hunting with my father at the age of 10 for ducks on our ranch in the SE section of the state of Buenos Aires, in Sierra de la Ventana, where we have a ranch. I got my BB gun at 11 and my first 22 at 14. I fired millions of rounds in the winter and summer holidays hunting for ducks, doves, pigeons, all small  game and anything I could reach. I started big game hunting around 15 and got my first deer that same year. Went to Africa many times as well and to Spain for the red leg partridge. Love to hunt and love to be on a hunt. That is why I am doing this and not in a office running a company.

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 I understand you spent 15 or so years on Cordoba with an outstanding outfitter, tell us about that experience and what you learned that has helped you with your new group in Salta?

I work many years with the Hayes brothers in Cordoba, in their first lodge Sierra Verde and later in the others. I learn a lot from them as they had an excellent organization and I have been able to apply my knowledge to the operation in Salta and improve on what I learned from them. I also worked with another outfitter there too. We had great hunts and very happy clients for many years.

At the early 2000′s, I start to see that Cordoba was getting very crowded with many small outfitters and too many hunters and I didn’t like that, so I started to look for other places and found the Salta area in late 2000. We worked a few years there with a small lodge and in late 2006 we purchased the first 4000 hectares(about 9000 acres) and start to built Chacu lodge and ended in 2007 having our first group there. We built the place only for hunters, with big rooms and nice areas of relax for wine, cigars, massage, sauna and etc. I was determined to deliver an extremely high class service and we work to deliver that every day.

How would you describe the main differences between the Cordoba scene for doves and Salta?

The main difference is that in Salta has 600,000 hectares of irrigation fields that bring constant food and water to the birds. They are all year round there and in large numbers. They don’t migrate, they stay in the same areas all the time. The other big difference is the weather, at Salta there is no rain (100% sure) from April to December, no cold weather, no wind and tremendous blue skies giving this 100 % success. BUT, the most important advantage is that we are alone there, we are the only outfitter there with legal approval from the government to hunt the Doves.  Salta is beautiful and wild, no people and no crowds, that makes a huge difference. I love the smell of Salta in the morning, smell like victory!.

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Other than the enormous amount of birds near Salta, why should hunters look to book here to Salta?

Salta is a very important tourist destination in the country for the natural beauty of the land, the famous wine country, in both Salta and Cafayate,  providing high quality high altitude wines.  There is a distinct cultural history from the Spanish colonization and the Inca influence on Salta and the surrounding cities. All this has been very well protected and has remained almost the same giving a very nice ambiance for the tourist.

On my recent visit, I was very impressed with the quality and professionalism of your staff  how did you put together this great team at Chacu lodge in Salta? 

It took years and good commanders. We started from nothing but with a good background with more than 20 years in the hunting and fishing industry.

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Can you tell my readers how you discovered this area of Argentina for doves and how your three lodge system got started?

I got a rumor about the doves in Salta. I was invited there by the former governor to check the area. We spent a week there and never saw one dove. The last day I was ready to leave and I was watching with my binoculars and I saw some groups of birds flying far away, we began to get closer and closer, and in few hours we found our first roost. Still the same, is 25 kmts long by 10 kmts wide.  Amazing place that holds by many estimates nearly 100 million birds(quite a bit more than Cordoba).  We went there in the evening, the ground was grey with birds and we fire a round to check, my 20 years of experience did not prepare me for what I saw that afternoon. The sound was like a jet taking of and the sky get dark by millions of birds taking flight.  At that moment, I knew we had found the new best dove location in Argentina.  Developing the infrastructure, team and logistics just took a little more time.

In addition to the fantastic dove hunting, you have incredible pigeon hunting and Dorado fishing too, tell us more about these opportunities at your lodge?

Salta is also famous by the Dorado fishing in the mountain rivers and in the big Juramento river. It is a paradise of the high end fisherman. Fishing clear mountain streams with 15 pounds of the most challenging and beautiful fish of South America. We purchased another 4 ranches in the area and one is San Fernando which has 3 rivers and the famous Dorado are inside our land. We built a small fishing lodge there to spend nights next to the river.

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What type of guns and fishing equipment do you have on offer for the hunters and fisherman?

We run an inventory of 100 guns, most are Berettas Urika 391 in 20 gauge. We also have some Benellis and some O/U. We also have a complete inventory of fishing equipment for fly or spinning rods.

What other activities are there for the hunter/adventure traveler to take advantage of in the Salta region?

We have the oldest thermal water resort at 1 1/2 hours away. We go for the day for many different thermal waters and mud baths. We do also great trekking in the mountains, rafting at the rio Juramento and horse rides. We do tours to the wine country and to different Inca towns.

I understand you are a 2 handicap golfer and friend of Craig Stadler(Former Masters Champion), how did you get hooked up with him and how often does he come to visit and hunt?

I used to have 2 handicap. Now with the age and the wine and still play low handicap ones in a while. Our friend Craig Stadler comes to visit us more than 6 times a year. I met him many years ago when I was invited to play at the Centel classic in Tallahassee.

Additionally, you have a very nice duck lodge in the Buenos Aires province, tell us about the lodge and duck hunting there.

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Our duck lodge is located in the Eastern section of the province of Buenos Aires, near the town of Pehuajo. Is the corn belt area of the country plus loaded with dairies. Now is flooded and will remain like this for few years. Imagine the combination corn+cow food+water = Millions of ducks. It is so easy the hunts there in our dry blinds that is something hard to believe if you don’t see it.

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Thanks for your time Floro, is there anything else you want hunters to know about adventure travel in Argentina?

Argentina is a friendly country with vast farming land. There are millions of hunting opportunities and great outfitters that will work hard for you to have a great time. If you are a hunter or want to be one, Argentina has to be on your list of destinations!

Visit our website at www.wingshootingcordoba.com or contact me directly at pwilson@wingshootingcordoba.com for details on booking your dream wing shooting adventure to Argentina, Uruguay or South Africa.  Wing Shooting Cordoba represents 9 luxury lodges and four outstanding guide services for dove, duck, pigeon and perdiz in both Argentina and Uruguay and over 18 species on offer in South Africa.  Also, I have fly fishing adventures along with Red Stag, Wild Boar and Quail hunting opportunities in Argentina.

SPECIAL FALL PRICING: September, October, November and December at Chacu lodge.  Fall Special Pricing: Minimum 6 hunters in Group.

4 Nights, 3 full days shooting………………………………….$1,440.00, includes hunting license @ $65.00 per day.
Gun Rental per day…………………………………………………….$50.00
Shells 20/12………………………………………………………………$11.90 per box
Includes all ground transportation including ground transfers in Buenos Aires to change airports.
This is only $360.00 per night. A great bargain for this level of quality, service, food and staff. You can add a day of very good Dorado fishing as well for an extra cost.
See link to Chacu lodge photos here: http://wingshootingcordoba.com/chacu-photos.htm
Lodge link here: http://wingshootingcordoba.com/chacu.htm

My web page is www.wingshootingcordoba.com

This is 4 nights in an incredible lodge located in one of the most beautiful areas of Argentina with no competition for any other outfitters for the next 5 years.

I have shot many areas in Argentina and I have never seen the quantity of birds like this before, a normal day would be 2000 birds here. Additionally, call me for other specific details that you will find exciting about this lodge and location.

I have hunted all over Cordoba many times and I lived in Argentina for almost 2 years and I can honestly say, this is the absolute best lodge and dove hunting you can find. The professionalism of the staff, food, wine and hunting is astounding.

This is one great offer, call me for details on travel to this lodge and available dates, contact me for details at pwilson@wingshootingcordoba.com
Wing Shooting Cordoba

Interview with Graham Jones, owner of The Safaris of Graham Jones a luxury Wingshooting operation in South Africa.

Wingshooting Cordoba LLC is extremely excited to add our first high quality wingshooting experience located in South Africa.  Graham Jones and his wife Ananda have been guiding and offering luxury lodging and wingshooting in exotic South Africa since 1989. Graham agreed to do a short interview with us to discuss his operation in South Africa.  There are over 18 different species on offer on this shooting adventure.  Additionally, this trip looks to price out a bit less expensive than traveling to Argentina and with the ability to match up with a photo safari, this is truly a trip of a lifetime.  Thanks to Charlie Jordan of Atlanta for providing the fantastic photos.

Interview with Graham Jones of The Safaris of Graham Jones

I have to ask you, how did you come up with Properly DoneTM as your company’s slogan?

Since 1989, we have been conducting safaris for all those wishing to experience how it once was.  Over the years, we have seen an enormous influx of new operations and self-appointed experts who have been “short cutting” the vital fundamentals crucial to an ethical and well-planned experience.  As a result, many visitors are being offered experiences less than authentic and customers are realizing this more and more.

It was a good thing that Ananda and I promised ourselves, almost 30 years ago, to safeguard the art of a genuinely conducted safari by simply doing all things The Proper Way TM .  This has overwhelmingly been what our guests have cherished most.

Where did you grow up and how did your environment affect your career choice?

Ananda & I were both born and raised in South Africa. We both had families that worked and spent as much time as possible in the great outdoors. We had the opportunity to be exposed to Nature at an early age having family that had hobbies like hunting , shooting, bird watching and bird egg collecting. It felt only natural that after our studies we would venture into a professional career in the African Bush.

How long have you been offering this variety of bird shooting to clients?

Ever since 1989, whether here at home in South Africa or across other African countries such as Botswana,Kenya, And Tanzania.

 In a sea of big game hunting, how did your wing shooting business evolve? 

Well, since we started, our Dangerous & Big Game & Plains game safaris guests expressed much interest as they saw the game birds in the bush.  Being a passionate wing shooter myself, I formalized the service and made sure it would always be properly offered.  Eventually, triggered by word of mouth, more people started looking for us and today, we continue to offer our Wing Shooting Safaris; always limiting the number of wing shooting safaris we offer.

 What makes bird shooting in this part of the world special?

The views and the variety! We have over 18 different species of waterfowl and upland game birds.  It is truly extraordinary.  The dog work is always an art to witness and experience.

Tell us about your accommodations and what the discerning bird hunting traveler can expect when lodging with The Safaris of Graham Jones?

Our camps vary from colonial “Hemmingway” Tented camps to game lodges to ranch houses. All our camps have been inspected and approved by Nature Conservation Agencies.

Our luxury canvas Camp accommodations at Kifaru consists of six tents furnished with fine antiques; each named after a “legendary White Hunter”.

Each tent is privately and spaciously positioned with its own private viewing deck on an elevated plinth with an en-suite sunken bathroom and dressing room linked to a private inside and outside shower. Laundry is done daily.

Can you tell us a bit about the basic cost per day and what a typical day wing shooting with Graham Jones is like?

Our All Inclusive day rate for our Wing Shooting Safari US $ 500/Gun.  We also require a minimum of 4 guns.  Of course, all of our birds are wild and there is no charge per bird.  This price includes all transfers between areas.  Ammunition and gratuities are not included in this ALL Inclusive price. A detailed quotation will be written out for each client with “No Hidden costs”

What city would a client fly into and how far a drive to your lodge?

We recommend our clients fly into Johannesburg, our capital city.  There are direct flights in from Atlanta on Delta Airlines.  It is a 3 ½ hour drive to Kifaru Camp.  We always greet all clients at the airport. Other areas are within 2 hours from the Airport.  There are also daily flights from Washington DC& NY – JFK.

Are the various hunting fields close to the lodging?

All our bird hunting is never more than 1 hour away from where we are staying. At our Kifaru Camp,  (Base camp), you can hunt right outside your tent.

What species could a hunter expect to bag while on a wing shooting safari?

From having morning or afternoons of challenging and migrating Rock pigeons and doves (where during the right time of year, up to 1000 shots can be fired), to mornings or afternoons of wild upland game birds; such as Swanson’s Spur Fowl, Crested Francolin, Helmeted Guinea Fowl, and Natal Spur Fowl, among others. In addition, our guests can also chose mornings for Egyptian geese and late evenings for ducks. Some duck species include Red-Billed Teal, Yellow Billed African Duck, Southern Pochards, and Fulvous Whistling Ducks.  All in all, a truly mixed bag journey that offers quality over quantity.

 With recent political events in South Africa, what can you tell clients about the security of the area?

In nearly 30 years of entertaining clients, we have never had a dangerous incident, but as is the case anywhere, it is always advisable to be cautious. We recommend to all our clients to be aware and to spend as little time in major cities as possible.

 If clients come for the wing shooting, how easily can they transfer to a big game hunt or photo safari?

Very easily as most bird areas have plains game available. We highly recommend to “ Delay your Departure “  & let us plan you a photo safari, a South Africa considered to be a “World in One Country” !

What is your favorite part of the job?

Seeing the satisfaction of our clients have when they experience things The Proper Way TM    

Having Happy Clients wanting to return and share their experiences with their friends! Meeting and learning from so many interesting people we meet from around the world. Waking up and spending time in Nature knowing that each day will be different.

Visit our website at www.wingshootingcordoba.com or contact me directly at pwilson@wingshootingcordoba.com for details on booking your dream wing shooting adventure to Argentina,Uruguay or South Africa.  Wing Shooting Cordoba represents 9 luxury lodges and four outstanding guides services for dove, duck, pigeon and perdiz in both Argentina and Uruguay and over 18 species on offer in South Africa.  Also, I have fly fishing adventures along with Red Stag, wild boar and Quail hunting opportunities in Argentina.

 

 

Interview with Rance Rathie, owner and partner of both Argentina Doves Unlimited and Patagonia River Guides.

Wing Shooting Cordoba, LLC is proud to announce a new partnership with Rance Rathie of Argentina Doves Unlimited (ADU) and Patagonia River Guides (PRG).  I had the pleasure of interviewing Rance regarding his background and eventual migration to Patagonia to be a professional river guide.  He is now one of the largest fishing and hunting guides in all of Argentina and has put together exceptional programs for fly fishing, dove hunting, quail hunting, pigeon and perdiz hunting along with Red Stag and Wild Boar.  I think you will enjoy learning more about Rance and his programs here.

Rance showing his talent.

You are from Montana; tell us about growing up there.

Growing up in Montana was the best.  Back in those days, I hunted, trapped, and fished year round from my first memories.  The outdoor activities were limitless and kids were free to be kids.  I can remember taking my bow and rifle to school and running out the door to hunt almost every day after school.  Things have certainly changed and I’m fortunate to have lived a “more free” childhood.

 Who had the biggest influence on you becoming a full time guide and lodge owner?

My Mom and my Uncle had the most influence on me becoming a guide as they owned a fly shop in Montana and gave me the opportunity just out of high school.  My father and his father were both hunting and fishing outfitters so genetically I guess I was born to be an outfitter.  So from nurture and nature both.  As far as lodge owner, that was a dream that my partner and I had from the beginning back when we were kids and knew that we wanted to be in the hunting and fishing business.  I can remember sitting on the bank of the Ruby River in Montana and talking about the lodges we would have, the fish we would catch and the animals we would hunt.

 Besides the obvious, what brought you to Argentina?

I was looking for a winter break after finishing college.  I looked for fly fishing guide jobs in Chile, New Zealand, and Argentina.  I was able to get my first job in Argentina and heard the women were better looking in Argentina and have never been disappointed about my decision in any aspect.

 

Did you establish the bird hunting or the fishing services first?

Patagonia River Guides was started first and Argentina Doves Unlimited later when my family and I decided to settle in Argentina permanently.  The hunting is a perfect compliment to the fishing season and offers year round business and pleasure.

 Tell us where your lodges are and a little about them?

We fish in three regions in Patagonia and own one lodge in the Central Zone near the town of Esquel.  We host guests south of Esquel three hours in Rio Pico at another lodge and also host guests at one of about seven lodges in the San Martin Area (north of Esquel) with PRG North.  All the lodges are different and vary from rustic luxury, to 5-star luxury, to authentic estancias.  Our hunting lodge in Northern Argentina is colonial style and offers wonderful accommodation and northern charm and is the perfect base for hunters wanting to see the new frontier.

You married an Argentine; do you have a family there now?

Yes, I am the proud father of four children from newborn to 7 years old.  My oldest was born in Montana and the youngest three in Argentina.  Everyone in my family is bi-lingual and my oldest children really love the business and enjoy “hosting” the clients.  My job takes me away from home and my family for months during the busy seasons, so that has been the hardest thing to adjust to as my family grows and grows up.

 What is the biggest difference living in Argentina vs. Montana?

The biggest difference of living in Argentina is the lack of equipment, supplies and small business support.  Many things that we need to operate need to be imported and prices of quality equipment is very expensive.  The government also is not as business friendly as they are in Montana and everything is much more of a challenge.  It is hard enough for the Argentines that were born in the system.  I still struggle to make sense of a system that really doesn’t make sense!  It is impossible to get a loan and even buying a truck takes upwards of four months.  Our hunting license alone took 2 years.   The system is not set up to succeed but rather fail and I have had to adapt in order to survive and thrive.  Basically it comes down to enjoying what you do, surrounding yourself with good people and concentrating on the things that make you and your clients happy.  I try to stay out of politics and have a great staff to handle the “Argentine” details that drive me crazy.

Tell us a little about your various trip offerings and what a hunter or fisherman should expect hunting with Argentina Doves Unlimited or fishing with Patagonia River Guides.

We have a sophisticated system of booking, organization, and a commitment to providing absolutely the best service, lodging, guides, equipment, and the activity itself.  We book every trip, we host every trip, and we never sell anything that we can’t deliver.  Our guests have come to know that we are prepared and ready to provide them with the ultimate hunting or fishing trip and that we are always shooting for a trip of a lifetime and repeat business or referrals.  It is impossible to stay in business these days if you don’t provide the absolute best.

 What makes you unique and what do your clients like about your trips the best?

Our attention to details and experience in knowing what the US sportsman wants and needs sets us apart.  Our employees are 100% Argentine so our programs remain authentic, but our system of organizing and execution is just different than most other operations.  I guess our clients like our attention to details and the efforts we put forth to provide the most variety and the best sporting adventures.  We also run exquisite lodges and provide guest with every comfort possible so that they can enjoy the “down time” as much as the time in the field or on the river.

What is your favorite food to eat in Argentina, and why?

Barbeque….because the meat is really great and the Argentines know how to cook over coals and how to have fun!

Did I hear you have a combo hunt/fish that includes big game, fly fishing and Quail hunting? 

Yes, from mid-March to the end of April guests can take advantage of the season to hunt Red Stag, California Quail and trout fish too.  It is a wonderful cast and blast trip and everything is possible.  The “Ultimate Cast and Blast Trip” is actually Trout/quail/Stag and then Doves/Pigeons/Dorado.  It is a two part program from Patagonia to northwest Argentina and is a great way to spend a couple of weeks experiencing the best of Argentina.

What is the biggest misconception about Argentina you hear from adventure travelers?

It’s too far away!  From Atlanta it is 9-hours.  To get toMontana, it is almost the same due to plane changes and most international flights are around 9-hours overnight and you’re here.  Just because you have to fly over the ocean and to another hemisphere, it isn’t much longer than going to some parts of theUSAorCanada.

 

I hear you get tired of being surrounded by the beautiful Argentine landscapes and the beautiful Argentine women, please tell me that ain’t so? 

Argentina is certainly one of the most beautiful places on earth and the women that fill this country are no different.  From the glaciers to the tropic jungles in the north and from the desert to the productive pampas, each place is unique.  There are the most beautiful women in each and every environment and something to hunt or catch too.  There is no place like it on earth!

Visit our website at www.wingshootingcordoba.com or contact me directly at pwilson@wingshootingcordoba.com for details on booking your dream wing shooting adventure to Argentina or Uruguay.  Wing Shooting Cordoba represents 8 luxury lodges for dove, duck, pigeon and perdiz in both Argentina and Uruguay.  Also, I have fly fishing adventures along with Red Stag, wild boar and Quail hunting opportunities as well.

Interview with Richard Szkiler, Founder, Photographer and Videographer for The View South and good friend from Buenos Aires.

While living in Buenos Aires I met an interesting young man named Richard Szkiler from the UK.  He is an accomplished photographer and videographer who owns a company called The View South, www.theviewsouth.com.  Richard and I met in an expat bar and began hanging out and trying out many famous lunch places in Buenos Aires.  He recently went to visit one of my luxury lodges to take photos and produce a cool video.  I was lucky enough to get him to do an interview for my blog.  I think you will enjoy hearing more about his interesting adventures below.

Salta, Argentina is such a cool and beautiful place.

Where are you from?
I’m originally from Yorkshire which is situated in Northern England, my family lives in the countryside not too far out from the city of York. It’s a beautiful part of the world with a very long and rich history.
What brought you to Argentina?
Since I was a small boy I had a fascination with geography and particularly with South America. For as long as I can remember I’ve always desired a life outside of the United Kingdom.
How did you get involved in being a videographer?
I have keen interest in films, I then went on to study Film and television production at York St John’s University. My first big shoot was in Sierra Leone, Africa, this came to be the key point in my life where I knew my passion would become my livelihood.

 

What is your basic equipment you use?
At the moment I have a trusty Canon 60D with a good range of lenses. The camera is of exceptional quality, it’s also little and nibble to carry around which comes in handy. I should also mention my Australian made Crumpler camera bag it’s fully water proof and other than fireproof it’s basically indestructible. Its kept all my gear safe over the years, be it through glaciers, jungles, deserts, out in the ocean you name it!

 

One of many of Richard’s famous photos from Argentina.

What would you say is the most enjoyable part of your job?
Having the luxury of filming some of the world’s most beautiful places, also meeting some amazing people who often end up becoming good friends too.

 

Tell us about the funniest thing that has happened to you while out videoing or taking photos.
I was recently filming a music video for a french band. I was required to sit on a back of a scooter and film two stretched limousines with two dogs hanging out of the sunroof wearing glasses. We did this in two of Buenos Aires’s most famous barrios, San Telmo and La Boca.

 

Give us normal folks a pointer or two on how to better compose a shot or video?
I think one of the most simplest pointers is framing, if you’re taking a landscape shot try to have something in the foreground to give viewers a real sense of depth and space. The key is not to show an image but to take people there through it.

 

What was your impression of the Dove hunting lodge in Salta?
It’s a lot of fun, and they are millions of them. They also taste delicious!

 

What was unique about the location in Salta?
I’ve travelled widely throughout Argentina and Salta is by far my favourite province. There’s a ton of wildlife too see, you have great wine tours to take and the landscapes are simply breathtaking. The people are extremely friendly too. You should also check out the museum of archaeology located Salta city’s main plaza. I really enjoyed it. They have the world’s best preserved mummies there from ancient Inca times, it was awesome to see them!

 

From your experience why should Argentina be high on the list for travel and hunting destinations?
If you’re looking to shoot doves and pigeons. Salta needs to be your number one destination. The amount of doves and pigeons there is unrivalled. Salta also offers fantastic cuisine and some beautiful places to stay while you are there, the small mountain village of Cachi is one of my favourites.
Visit our website at www.wingshootingcordoba.com or contact me directly at pwilson@wingshootingcordoba.com for details on booking your dream wing shooting adventure to Argentina or Uruguay.  Wing Shooting Cordoba represents 8 luxury lodges for dove, duck, pigeon and perdiz in both Argentina and Uruguay.  Also, I have fly fishing adventures along with Red Stag, wild boar and Quail hunting opportunities as well.

Interview with Liza Puglia, friend, blogger and now restaurant owner in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Before launching my hunting expeditions site www.wingshootingcordoba.com, I was a resident of Buenos Aires for nearly two years.  I was lucky enough to meet some amazing fellow expats from the US and none more impressive than New Orleans raised Liza Puglia.  We met soon after she arrived at an expat event and I immediately realized I was in the presence of whirling dervish of high energy and magnetic personality that I had only encountered a few times before.  I learned she was an accomplished chef having trained in NY and would soon attend her famous New Orleans night “Pop-Up” style events she was putting on.  Liza is a wonderful person with a bright future and I was lucky enough to interview her for my blog. You can follow Liza on her blog at www.NOLAchef.wordpress.com and her restaurant site is  NOLAbuenosaires@gmail.com.  Here are the highlights from our conversation and I hope you enjoy.  Oh, by the way, she is in Argentina and, of course, no longer a vegetarian.

 

Liza scoring her next cooking gig!

You grew up in New Orleans, how much of an influence did that have on your career choice? Honesty, none. I was living in Southern California when I decided I wanted to cook for a living. I had become a vegetarian, quit smoking and started researching/experimenting with how food affects our body and mind. I am completely fascinated by this! Then I began to realize how poorly the majority of the country eats and how people have so many dietary restrictions and therefore have an overall negative experience with food. I thought if I could change that for them they would be a happier healthier person. However, the fact that I was exposed to such great food for the majority of my life definitely helped encourage me to stick with because I LOVE TO EAT.

 

When did you know you had a love affair with food? My dad once smoked a brisket for 24 hours during Hurricane Andrew in NOLA. I was like 14 and people were amazed at the amount I ate. It was only the beginning….

 

What inspired you to move to New York? What did you do there? I actually moved to NY because of Hurricane Katrina. My sister (who lives there) and I had plans to go to the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament and it happened to be the weekend before Katrina. She re-routed my ticket from Texas where I had evacuated to and once I got there I never left. I started working at a bar instantly and made fast friends and lots of cold hard cash. After a couple years I moved to Cali to try out the West Coast which is when I decided I want to go to culinary school. NY has the best schools so we packed up the jeep and drove cross country. I enrolled in the French Culinary Institute and began working in the kitchen at Hecho en Dumbo where my love and knowledge of Mexican food grew tremendously. I also started catering film sets for a small production company in Brooklyn.

 

How did you make it to Buenos Aires? I went backpacking all over Central & South America and met a spicy Argentino while in El Salvador. We traveled together for 5 months and ended the trip in BA. I was looking for a major change in my life and a new start outside of NYC. I had always wanted to live abroad and had no strings attached so I just went for it.

 

What were your first impressions of the food in Buenos Aires? Dull, under seasoned, lots of carbs, overcooked meat, and salt. And where’s the vegetables?! The verdulerias are full of them but no one seems to cook/serve them! I did fall deeply in love with choripan and empanadas. I also ate lots of ice cream at the beginning.

 

Profiteroles stuffed with dark chocolate ganache.

 Tell us about your current projects in Buenos Aires and your food blog. I work as a private chef. That means I go into peoples homes and cook for them. Sometimes I go in and cook food to stock in the fridge to munch on throughout the week and sometimes it’s more formal such as a 5-7 course dinner party. I also do Pop-Up events once a week where I sling Mexican food in a cafe in Palermo Soho. Come mid-July I will be starting a puerta cerrada which is a ‘closed-door restaurant’. Imagine going to a chef’s house and him/her cooking you dinner. There are no menu options and it’s a very intimate setting. It’s open to the public but a reservation is required. My food blog, NOLAchef, began…. as a way to digitize my foods. Whenever I cook I take a picture of it. Whenever I was unsure of what to make I’d flip through the photos and get inspiration. My cool nerdy (and blog obsessed) sister convinced me to start a blog and pushed that it was a good way to stay in touch with people back home.

 

Cactus sopes, one of her many great Mexican specialties.

What is a “Pop-Up” restaurant or event, tell us about yours? A Pop-Up is when a guest chef takes over the kitchen at a cafe-bar-restaurant. The chef has their own menu and calls all the shots. Mine is every Thursday at Tout le Monde on Gurruchaga 1417. It’s a small menu of Mexican antojitos (small plates) and EVERYTHING is made from scratch- tortillas, cheeses, juices, breads, salsas, margaritas. We open the doors at 3pm and close them around midnight. It’s a great place to meet and for Argentinos to try real Mexican.

 

Is the rumor correct, you are opening your own private restaurant in Buenos Aires? YES. It will be called NOLA and will open in July. It will be a rustic meets modern seasonal menu with many French, Mexican, and Creole influences. I would also like to incorporate some of the local dishes but with an ‘outsiders spin’. Reservations can be sent to NOLAbuenosaires@gmail.com

 

A New Orleans inspired BBQ Shrimp pasta.

How has the internet impacted your business? Good question, Pitts!! I would have very little business without the internet. Online forums is what started it all, hence my username NOLAchef. Life is all about connecting with others. The internet made is so simple.

 

What makes Argentina such a great place to travel and live in your opinion? Argentina is a BEAUTIFUL BIG country. There’s mountains, lakes, waterfalls, glaciers, beaches, lots of farmland and a huge metropolis. The people are also incredibly kind and the culture is so rich. I think what I like most about it is people don’t live to work, they work to live. It’s not so much about possessions and status, it’s more about spending & connecting with the people you surround yourself and enjoying the smaller things.

 

What is the biggest misconception about the food in Argentina? That it’s the best meat in the world. Who cares how good the quality is if you’re going to over-cook the shit out of it!!

 

Do you plan to have a permanent home in Buenos Aires? Maybe. BA has so much opportunity, especially in the food industry. It all depends on how the next 3-5 years pan out. I wouldn’t mind a nice corner building in Palermo or Colegiales…

You can send Liza an email at NOLAbuenosaires@gmail.com or follow her on twitter @NOLAbuenosaires.
Stay tuned for more interviews from Argentina.

Two luxury dove hunting lodges north of Cordoba, Argentina.

High volume Dove Hunting in Cordoba, Argentina

Booking agent: Wing Shooting Crodoba, www.wingshootingcordoba.com

I recently had the privilege of an amazing high volume dove hunting adventure as the owner of www.wingshootingcordoba.com to visit two luxury shooting lodges called Pica Zuro and La Dormida just north ofCordoba.  The outfitter, David Denies, has developed two beautiful luxury lodges with an amazing attention to detail and service.

Our first day we arrived at La Dormida, the newest lodge in the collection, we were greeted warmly and enjoyed a hearty lunch before embarking on our first half day hunt. The lodge holds up to 10 hunters in a modern cozy environment.  I was impressed that each lodge has its own dedicated chefs providing excellent meals and even a menu for selections of different entrees for dinner.

 

The first half day was spent shooting the beautiful hills area near Macha or an area about 30 minutes north of Jesus Maria, a short 15 minute drive from the lodge.  I was provided with a nice Beretta over-under 20 gauge and a dedicated bird boy for the afternoon.  The shooting was incredible.  Every possible shot presentation was afforded me in rapid fashion and I was quickly consuming shells at a furious pace. I was so excited, I must have burned through 20 boxes before I realized what was happening.  I paused to grab a coke and a quick rest then probably burned through another 15 boxes before calling it a day.  The sheer number of doves cannot be described but has to be experienced to believe.  I was getting into a nice rhythm and bringing down many birds.

We loaded up in the nice air-conditioned vans and headed back to the lodge for a wonderful Argentine Steak dinner coupled with a fantastic selection of Argentine wines.  The next morning we headed to a new destination in the hills area for more fast action shooting.  Again, I used a 20 gauge Beretta and enjoyed the beautiful views as I again burned through 25 to 30 boxes during the morning hunt.  Some say it is best described as shotgun porn, or the most fun you can possibly have with a shotgun, and I will have to agree.  We broke for lunch to enjoy the traditional Argentine asado that included several cuts of prime Argentine pork, beef, sausages, a great salad and dessert.  Of course, we had our choice of beer or wine and soft drinks constantly at our disposal.   The English speaking guides and the staff at La Dormida were simply first-class.  I wanted to see the other lodge nearby, so, I loaded up and transferred over to enjoy another luxury lodge on offer, Pica Zuro.

Pica Zuro is what you would think of as the traditional Argentine Estancia.  The lodge is incredibly inviting with nice warm environs, large rooms and expansive private bedrooms.  The lodge can host 14 hunters and is my favorite of the many I have visited in Argentina.  This is a place you want to stay for a while and relax for sure.  However, I was here to enjoy the food and hunting and we did plenty of both.  Again, we enjoyed exquisite meals along with several bottles of high-quality Malbec wine from Mendoza.  The shooting was again other-worldly as we enjoyed another of the 55 different shooting areas on offer through the outfitter. The next full day, I shot with a group from Missouri and another group from Iowa.  Everyone raved about the beautiful shooing areas, the daily grilled lunches and the attention to detail constantly provided with this organization.

From the minute you land in Cordoba to the very last minute of your trip, this hunting adventure is first-class all the way.  A mind boggling number of doves, amazingly good food, first class wines and luxury accommodations, what more could you possibly ask for.  Visit our web site at www.wingshootingcordoba.com or contact me directly at pwilson@wingshootingcordoba.com for details on booking your dream wing shooting adventure to Argentina or Uruguay.  Wing Shooting Cordoba represents 8 luxury lodges for dove, duck, pigeon and perdiz in both Argentina and Uruguay.

Pitts Wilson

Wing ShootingCordoba

www.wingshootingcordoba.com

pwilson@wingshootingcordoba.com

 

How Bout 100 Million Doves.

Yes, believe it or not, that is the estimated number of doves located in the newest hotspot for high volume Dove hunting near Salta, Argentina. This area, a natural roost near the Andes Mountains started a few years ago with farming in the fertile valleys for sunflower, corn, wheat, soybeans and sorghum. This provides the perfect environment for the doves and they reproduce up to 5 times per year here, producing doves by the millions. According to the National Department of Agriculture in Argentina, there are over 100 million doves here. This makes Salta the best dove destination in the country and maybe the world.

Our newest affiliated outfitter has the only lodge located near this incredible population of doves in the Salta area. Our parties stay in a luxury private lodge with double rooms and private baths. The hunting fields are 5 to 15 minutes away from the lodge. The weather is dry with warm winters that provide excellent shooting from March to November. Everyday hunters can shoot for at least 8 hours into this incredible and constant flock of birds.

The hunting in Salta’s Anta Valley, an area with large natural roost, has been enhanced significantly in recent years due to the increased farming in the area. Recent increases in dove populations have been so staggering that local farmers consider the dove a serious agricultural plague. Hunters often don’t believe it until they see it with there own eyes! Further enhancing the attraction of Salta’s hunting is the fact that our outfitter is the only outfitter authorized to operate in the province, meaning that bird concentrations stay high and the competition for the best areas is non-existent.

Shooting takes place in a variety of carefully selected settings thanks to scouts who work daily to follow the movement of the birds. This guarantees the best locations for the hunters, who may perhaps shoot one day in a recently harvested grain field, then next on a river bank and the next over a waterhole. Depending on conditions, guests have the option of shooting pigeons by way of pass-shooting or using decoys-highly recommended. The outfitter has high quality Beretta 391 Urikas, Benelli M1, M2 and Supersport guns for rent and 6 Beretta 687’s. Generally hunters will stay at the lodge for four nights and get three full days of shooting included. Of course, four or five day shooting packages are available for the trigger happy hunter.

A typical day may consist of breakfast at the estancia at 7:00am, departure at 7:30 and arrival in the field no later than 8:00am. Bird boys will have the blinds and guns ready so shooting can start immediately. Drinks and snacks are on hand constantly but at mid-day shooting stops for a hearty lunch, most often, an unforgettable field lunch. The traditional Argentine “asado” a time-honored grilling tradition started by the gauchos, consists of steaks, sausages, ribs, robust wines, salads and fresh breads. Additionally, our field chefs often collect birds shot in the morning to use in preparing delicious brochettes of dove or pigeon. After lunch, a siesta is in order and cots are set up for a brief nap before beginning the afternoon shooting. After the hunt, guests will return to the lodge where they will find delicious hors d ouvers, a full bar, masseuses and hot sauna.

This opulent new 20,000 sq. ft. lodge offers nine bedrooms for up to 18 hunters, lovely dining and cocktail areas, shaded patios, gardens, fountains and all of the charm of a European country manor, but with modern comfort and convenience. The lodge sits in a lovely hillside location on a 12,000 acre private ranch.

If you have been to Cordoba and are looking for a new unspoiled spot with more dove and no competition coupled with luxury lodging, Salta is it without a doubt.  You can also do some fantastic Dorado fishing out of this same lodge.

The author of this article is from the Atlanta area but recently lived in Argentina for almost 2 years and got to know the top outfitters and locations for the discerning wing shooter. Contact Pitts Wilson at pwilson@wingshootingcordoba.com or thru our web page at www.wingshootingcordoba.com. Happy Hunting!