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My Birthday Sobremesa: Milanesas + 2019 Alta Vista Vive Malbec #GalleyMatch #Sponsored

  This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of author Josephine Caminos Oría, publisher Scribe Publishing, and Kobrand Wine and Spirits
A complimentary book and wine were provided for this post though no other compensation was received. This page may contain affiliate links.

When my contact at the Book Club Cookbook emailed me about a possible match to celebrate the release of a memoir, I was excited to line up a group of bloggers for a virtual party. We received copies of Sobremesa: A Memoir of Food and Love in Thirteen Courses by Josephine Caminos Oría from Scribe Publishing; and we received Argentinian wines from  Kobrand Wine and Spirits.* It all fell into place quickly. I love when that happens.

As the other bloggers' posts go live, I'll share them won't want to miss out on their thoughts and recipes.

 On the Page

Food memoirs are my favorite genre. Really. So, I was excited to read Sobremesa: A Memoir of Food and Love in Thirteen Courses by Josephine Caminos Oría just based on that. And I loved the meaning behind the title: sobremesa. The word literally means 'over the table', but its meaning is much more nuanced. It includes lingering over the table, embracing the art of a meaningful conversation, and just relishing in the camaraderie and company around the table.

Funny note: when I explained that we were going to have a sobremesa for my birthday, my boys quipped, "How is that different from any other dinner at our house?" It's true. We do linger after dinner. Every single day. It's the time when we hear about their days at school (albeit virtual school still), we learn about what they are passionate, we make plans for the following day or weekend, and we just connect. I have had people ask how I have teenage boys who actually talk to me; it's a habit. They've been talking to us since they were old enough to talk. But I think the secret there is actually that Jake and I listen. Conversation is a two-way street, right? So, they talk. We listen. We talk. They listen. It's a pretty basic formula that is lost when interactions are relegated to texts and emojis! 

So, they were right, sobremesa is a way of life in our home. I just didn't know that it had a name. And, for my birthday, it was more deliberate with me pulling out different sweets and libations in succession to keep the conversation going. We sobremesa'd (okay, that's probably not a word) until the candles were almost burned out. 

Back to the book. Josephine Caminos Oría, like many who have immigrated to the United States or is a child of a recent immigrant, is a product of two worlds equipped with roots from a homeland and wings for the new country, new home, and new persona. In her introduction, she begins, "With parents who spoke between tongues, indiscriminately switching on and off between their native, River Plate Castellano, their learned English with heavy accents and their assault on both - Spaniglish, which often surfaced in the same conversation - our family decidedly did not blend in" (page xiii). Then, through thirteen courses, she tells her story. She travels to her homeland of Argentina, immerses herself in the culture, finds love, learns as much as she can from her grandmother, Abuela Dorita, and ends up  building a business that honors her abuela by jarring up and sharing Dorita's dulce de leche. The thirteen courses are a menu, a framework, for her to tell her tale and for the reader to get to know her family.

When she shares her Mom's Mushroom Sandwich, Champiñones a la Provenzal, we also start to get a picture of her mom as she offers advice for Josie's anxiety attacks. "Mom was of the generation that swore a splash of whiskey could solve anything. Colicky baby? Put a drop of whiskey in their bottle of milk or formula. Feeling a little too full after a meal? Sip on a finger or two of whiskey as a digestive. Can't sleep? Add a splash of whiskey to your chamomile tea. And now, having a panic attack? Throw back a capful of Johnnie to ward off impending doom" (pg. 73).

But it's Josie's quest to recreate her grandmother's dulce de leche that really displays her passion and Gastón's dedication. She calls Dorita for the recipe and is told, "No lo hagas, Josie. Milk is very fickle. You have to tend to the pot for hours, and to be honest, I don't know if you have that sort of patience or time" (pg. 296). She finally gets the process, but without any details as to measurements or cooking times; so, she and Gastón got to testing. "Gastón soon realized he could either fight my insanity or join me on my culinary quest to conquer the milk. He chose the latter. Most nights, we began taking turns stirring the pot. I secretly thought he wanted to see if he could make it better than me. But that was okay, because I needed his help. We'd uncork a bottle of Malbec and settle into the kitchen, meticulously charting temperatures, amounts and color, while the other sipped and stirred" (pg. 297).

Then she tells her mom the plan: "I have a feeling about the dulce de leche. ...That it's going to lead me somewhere. That I'm supposed to make it and introduce authentic dulce de leche back home. North Americans still don't understand Argentines' obsession with it. They don't know how to use it, because they haven't tried the real thing. I can't help but think it will open the door to a new career" (pg.315).

Spoiler alert: she does it! And she even sent me a jar. Thank goodness because our Whole Foods didn't carry it and I really wanted to try her version. I've used this to make a few of her recipes; and I am almost ready to roll up my sleeves and try one of her five versions of dulce de leche on my own. But is for another post.

Sobremesa: A Memoir of Food and Love in Thirteen Courses by Josephine Caminos Oría was a treat to  read. In fact, I've read it more than once already. It's an immigrant story. It's a love story. It's also about loss and grief as her mom dies unexpectedly. But life goes on, babies are born, and we continue to make connections with each other over shared meals. Over the table. Sobremesa.

In the Glass

I had recently received a selection of wines from Kobrand Wine and Spirits for Malbec Day. I thought that a fitting pairing as that is what Josie and Gastón drink as they honed their process for dulce de leche. For my birthday sobremesa, I uncorked the Alta Vista Vive Malbec 2019 from the Mendoza appellation.

Set in the Eastern foothills of the Andes Mountains, Mendoza is practically synonymous with the Malbec grape which was originally a Bordelaise variety brought to Argentina by the French in the mid-19th century. And this bottle is a single varietal, 100% Malbec.

I would characterize this wine as a New World-style 'big red.' Armed with intense aromas of red fruit, especially plums, it was also big on flavor on the palate. But, throughout dinner, it softened and I could detect more nuanced flavors of warm vanilla and earthy coffee. As a big red, I knew it would be a great match with beef, so I chose to make Josie's Milanesas dish for my birthday dinner.

On the Plate: Milanesas
very slightly adapted from the book

I tried several of the recipes in the book - and will link to them all eventually - but the centerpiece of my birthday sobremesa was a platter of milanesas. Josie writes, "Growing up, milanesas - breaded, thin slices of prime beef from the colita de cuadril sirloin roast - were always served at our family table when there was no one around to impress. If red meat wasn't your thing, chicken, soy, or sliced  eggplant milanesas took it place. This was the default dinner when Mom and Dorita were too tired for ideas, but that didn't mean they worked any less. It took love, time and bloody knucles to make one really good milanesa, nonetheless three dozen at a time. ...You could find milanesas  most anywhere - in train stations, subway kioskos, rolling food cards, roadside cafés and, as I would soon discover, gas stations too" (pg. 103).

I chuckled when I read her headnotes for the recipe: "...there is a common saying that Argentines are Italians who speak Spanish" (pg. 118).

Ingredients serves 4
  • 1-1/2 pounds thinly sliced beef ( used top round)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1-1/2 cups parsley, divided
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black oeooer
  • 2-1/2 cups breadcrumbs
  • oil for frying (I used canola oil)
  • organic lemon wedges for serving
  • Also needed: rolling pin or mallet

Trim any fat from the beef. Cover each piece of meat with a sheet of plastic and pound the steaks to just under 1/4-inch. I used a rolling pin; you can use a mallet.

Place the eggs in a medium mixing bowl and whisk them together with 3/4 cup of the parsley, garlic, salt, and pepper. Place the pounded steaks in the egg mixture and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. If they aren't completely submerged, flip them halfway through.

Pour the breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl and mix in the remaining 3/4 cup parsley. Pour 1-inch of oil in to a heavy pot or skillet. Heat until it bubbles when you drop in a bit of breadcrumb. Remove the steaks from the egg and dredge them in the breadcrumbs. Make sure the the entire surface of the meat is covered.

When the oil is hot, slowly lower the steaks into the oil (I did two at a time) and cook until golden  brown, approximately 3 minutes. Carefully flip the steaks with tongs and cook on the other side another 3 minutes. Remove the steaks to a paper towel lined plate. Transfer to a platter and serve immediately with lemon wedges.

Many Thanks...
To the Publisher, Scribe Publishing, on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram
To Josephine Caminos Oría on the Twitter, on Facebook, on Instagram
To the Book Club Cookbook on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram, on Pinterest

and to...

on the web, on Facebook, on Twitter, and Instagram
*Disclosure: I received compensation in the form of wine samples for recipe development and generating social media traction. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the organizer and sponsors of this event.


  1. I enjoyed this book and the wines so much. Thanks for this opportunity Cam. I'm so glad you had a happy birthday. Cheers.

    1. Thanks for joining me, Wendy. I think we all loved the philosophy of the sobremesa!


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