My New Favorite Thing: Salsa Golf

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The best part about visiting Argentina, a country so rich with culture and tradition, is that you’re bound to create new discoveries with each trip. Last week it was something as simple as tasting a condiment for the first time that sent my brain into overdrive. Salsa Golf, a pale slightly orange spread with a salmon hue that straddles the line between mayonnaise and ketchup, appeared on our table when we ordered sandwiches in one of the high rise food courts of an ultra modern shopping mall in Buenos Aires.

“Whoa! Check this out! Oh my god! Salsa Golf!” Adam screamed immediately after emptying the packet next to his small mound of papas fritas. I could completely understand his enthusiasm.

Just so you know, I’m one of those people that gladly mixes ketchup and mayonnaise for french fries. And there’s absolutely no shame in my game. Having felt as if I just discovered Creamy Nirvana Delivered From The Heavens In A Condiment Packet, I felt like I needed to get to the bottom of Salsa Golf. I started asking around Buenos Aires and checked Wikipedia as well as Dan’s blog for clarification. He says it’s known as the national condiment of Argentina (next to Chimichurri, of course) and I can certainly see why. It’s wonderful on sandwiches, hearts of palm, french fries, potato chips, and just about anything else that is at home with a creamy dip. Other than a legend no one has really identified where it gets its name and unfortunately it’s rarely seen outside of South America.

aisles-of-mayoAfter our Salsa Golf awakening we found ourselves strolling the aisles of Carrefour during an afternoon of shopping. I must say I’m happy that my traveling companions love checking out grocery stores when traveling as much as I do. At Carrefour there was an entire aisle dedicated to mayonnaise, mustards and barbecue sauces and then the jackpot!: an entire section devoted to Salsa Golf. I looked at my traveling companions and the idea hit us simultaneously- A Salsa Golf Tasting! And why not? We were staring at hundreds of packages and jars and bottles of the stuff, from store brands to generic to Hellman’s. We all agreed how much we immediately loved the stuff and knowing we’d never find it at home we thought we might as well get to know it as best as we could considering we’d probably never find it back home. An immersion course in Salsa Golf, if you will.

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We filled our basket with various brands and headed back to the hotel. I think the staff caught on to our intentions when we starting asking them one by one about Salsa Golf. Do you like it? What do you eat it with? Do you have a favorite brand? What’s it best with? We told them about our Salsa Golf Taste Off 2009 and they delightfully offered to assist.

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The Salsa Golf Taste Off 2009 Judges, clockwise: Brian L, Wine Marketing. Paul C., Wine Wholesaler. Dana R., Director of Online Community, NBC.com. Adam Pearson, Food Stylist. Aaron A., Buyer Amoeba Hollywood. Wade W., Whole Foods.

We planned and trained; we cleared our palates and made notes. We were serious about the SGTO 09 and meant business. And so did Home Hotel. They took our various brands, decanted and labeled them so that we wouldn’t know what we were tasting. Freshly fried french fries became the official food of the tasting and plenty of Quilmes made sure we were hydrated. But an added element of surprise? Home Hotel submitted their own house-made Salsa Golf into the tasting.presenting-salsa-golf-final1

The blind tasting began with two groups. We chatted about texture, salinity, sweetness, which brands tasted nothing more than a simple mayo and ketchup blend, which brands had more depth, and how one version in particular had more dimension and flavor than the rest. We took notes as our friends at the hotel looked on. We drank beer. We drank more beer. I realized that taste testing is serious business, jars of fattening dressing or not.

danny-final-postAfter a group discussion I tallied the forms, noticing a clear winner. The ever delightful bartender Danny (who has quickly become a group favorite) then took our tallied forms and announced the winners. Now I know how those girls feel standing in front of Tyra Banks. And for the record I’d never trip in heels.

With 22 points, we all selected Danica brand as our least favorite in the tasting. The next was Hellman’s with 24.5 points, followed by Fanacoa with 26 points. And the winner, with a whopping 30.5 points?

Home Hotel’s Homemade Salsa Golf.

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The casera, or house made, was the only Salsa Golf with dimension and character. It had a pronounced acid flavor that held up through the end of the bite. While the others were good, Home Hotel’s was excellent. It held its own with fries and beer.  And the only bad thing about our tasting was knowing that once we return back to California we’ll probably never be able to find Salsa Golf.

Sigh.

I suppose I’ll always have Ketchup and Mayo. But it’s just not the same.

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A very special thanks to our friends at Home Hotel in Buenos Aires. I cannot say enough about the owners Tom & Patricia as well as the staff. It’s impossible to have a bad moment at this place, it’s as relaxing and chill as you want it to be. It’s nothing short of magical and you’ll instantly feel like a member of the family once you arrive.

PLUS: I’m working on getting Home Hotel’s recipe for Salsa Golf for a future post. It will be the only thing that sustains me back home in the states until we come back to Buenos Aires. Or I could buy a new carry-on for the flight home and fill it with the stuff.

Comments

  1. says

    You HAVE to get their recipe! And I agree, a trip to the grocery store is always one of my first orders of business whenever I travel–it’s the best insight into the culture.

  2. says

    Looking forward to the recipe! I’ve never come across anyone who enjoys Danica’s line of condiments yet so many restaurants like to push their products on the population.

  3. says

    This review made me laugh so much! I am a Chicagoan living in Buenos Aires and the variety of salsa golf in the supermarkets never ceases to amaze me. Love the photos!

  4. Laura says

    This sounds a lot like something that is somewhat of a Utah specialty, fry sauce. It usually just tastes like ketchup and mayo blended, but sometimes its got some other spices in it. I have a feeling Salsa Golf is better, though. Most things from S. America are :) . You can order fry sauce from some dude, I’ve never bought it myself, but its probably what they’re serving at half the burger joints around here. Good luck!

  5. Sarah says

    #1 I want to travel with you and your delightful food lovin’ companions. So, where are we going? ;-)

    #2 Next time I get to BA I am definitely checking in to the Home Hotel. What incredible creative and fun hosts! If the photos of the bath products didn’t fully sell it before, this post and their unique hospitality certainly sealed the deal.

    Looking forward to the Salsa Golf recipe, something “golf” I’m actually going to enjoy, go figure. Happy travels to you all!!!

  6. says

    Seriously, I can’t be the only one who read the title of this post and immediately had mental images of you guys salsa dancing while golfing?

  7. says

    Hey! You don’t have to worry about the recipe, I’ll keep trying to get the ratios. The only thing I know is that it was made of Hellman’s Mayonaisse and Ketchup and Worcestershire sauce.
    Cheers,

    Dani

  8. Mel says

    Yum! Looking foward to the recipe. I love mixing mayo and mustard or mayo and curry powder for my chips as well. I thought I was a freak. Glad to know I’m in good company. :)

  9. says

    Have food obsession. Will travel.

    I love that you worked in a salsa golf taste test while on your vacation…I mean food adventure. You are my hero. Taste on.

  10. says

    I’m sure you made a list of potential judges for this blind tasting and crossed many names after a day of contemplation, but I only hope the exams were taxing enough. My faith is with you though, you seem to hold dear the seriousness of Salsa Golf.

  11. says

    Matt-once again you leave me inspired by another beautiful post.
    Your photographs in this one had me staring for awhile.

  12. says

    Matt! I just knew the recipe would be at the end of this post! Now we have to wait? I am going to do some searching myself! You have my interest up!

  13. Linda says

    Matt, Glad you are enjoying your visit! I am a SoCal expat in Montevideo, Uruguay ( across the Rio de la Plata from BA) and Salsa Golf is a huge favorite here as well. Our grocery (Tienda Inglesa) also has an entire mayo aisle and a significant section is devoted to the widely hailed condiment.

    The next time you are down this way, hop on Buquebus and give Montevideo a try (if you haven’t had an opportunity to do so). You will love it’s slower pace, small-town feel and incredible food and wine. Speaking of wine, you definitely need to try Tannat — I was a Malbec freak, but have fallen in love with the Tannats of Uruguay…and the country as well!

    Ciao!

    I too love Malbec, but have become a Tannat convert

  14. says

    This does sound quite like the Utah fry sauce, which to some people is a near religion. A friend of mine is a native and has taken me on some fry sauce adventures. It’s more than just ketchup and mayo, there’s vinegar in there I think. The ingredients say “special seasonings.”

    Glad you’re having such fun. Please do get that recipe! xox

  15. says

    I just bought some Japanese mayo at a local gourmet store! Hmm. . . . I just wonder if it would make good Salsa Golf? This is a very intriguing post.

  16. says

    Hey Matt,

    Great post. I am a food/wine writer expat living in Santiago, Chile. Salsa Golf is also rampant here, although with all the seafood here in Chile, they also love to use it as “cocktail” sauce with shrimp, abalones, crab, etc. The commercial stuff tends to taste really plastic. I learned to make this from my mother-in-law and the trick is: homemade mayo (base of recipe) plus homemade ketchup (or near close). Then each cook adds the zing with red wine vinegar, lemon juice, even a touch of mustard, Worcestershire sauce, or OPorto to give it “zing”. I have tried it a couple ways and it’s pure lovin’ on fries, hot dogs, and empanadas.

    Tchau y buen provecho, Liz

    http://eatwineblog.com

  17. says

    Hey!
    I was reading this post and I’d like to share some facts. I’m Argentinian so I guess I have the right to, ha!.

    The salsa golf was made up in the 1920’s by Argentinian doctor Luis Federico Leloir , who fed up with just mayo on every sandwich, he mixed it up with some ketchup. Then named it salsa golf as he was at the Golf Club of Mar del Plata at that moment playing as always.

    Hope it helps!
    nice blog.
    Vix

  18. Jacquie Farrellrell says

    Hi, I’m happy to have a name for something I’ve been doing for years. Salsa Golf. I found a recipe for crab salad that mixes catsup and mayo half and half as a dressing, years ago. It is so simple and so good. Fresh or frozen crab meat, sprinkled with onion salt and let sit a bit, dice lots of celery very small, dice up a couple of hard boiled eggs, mix together with crab and catsup/may dressing, with any seasonings you like. For some reason, we always serve this on lettuce, with homemade potato soup. It’s a favorite with my family, and it’s nice to know the dressing has a name. Jacquie

  19. says

    Sir Matt,
    Can you buy a salsa golf and bring to USA? I was just curious. It would be very nice though if we can.

    Thank you for sharing this to let us know that we can find something we love in this world. ^O^

    -Green
    http://www.ahacook.com

  20. says

    Gin – try mixing your Japanese mayo with srirachi sauce also. It’s a great spicy dip for fries as well as sushi!

  21. Dawn in CA says

    I want to try this just because I love the name… salsa golf. It sounds like a party in a bottle. :)

  22. says

    Matt, recipe is on the way! An added bit of info on salsa golf “inventor”. Dr Leloir won the Nobel Prize for Medicine, but he once said that his proudest achievement was actually inventing Salsa Golf. Genius.
    Glad you had a good time. Look forward to your return to BA.
    Patricia & Tom

  23. says

    I have been mixing ketchup and mayo since the 60’s never knew it had a name. We can hardly wait for the recipe. Wonder if it can be ordered online.

  24. says

    So happy to hear you love Home hotel! we almost stayed there during our Nov. 08 trip to BsAs, but ended up renting an amazing apartment in Palermo instead. Can’t wait to check it out next time we go if we do the hotel thing. And, just to put in my two cents, my family and I loved BsAs! If you guys are doing the going-out-at-night thing, our favorites were Milion and Carnal. Can’t wait for your recipe for homemade salsa golf! Mmm.

  25. says

    Matt, Matt, Matt… should I even keep reading your blog? I have devil of a time ever getting your updates through Google reader. And then when I do get a moment to drop by, you give me this?!! What a disappointment!!!

    I mean, c’mon now, if ANYONE should have been there to do THAT kind of taste testing it would be moi! Mayonaise & Ketchup on fries? TOTALLY! But dude, seriously, I’d put that foshizzle on frosted flakes if necessary! Apparently, my invitation to partake got lost in the mail? And now you’re telling me that I cannot get or even make Salsa Golf?!! You’re just to cruel! (I’ll spare your readers the profanity.)

    However, my birthday is coming up. So if you wanna make it up to me…there’s your chance! ;)

    (At the rish of public mockery… seriously, a drop of drool just dropped from my lower lip. The tears must be just moments away.)

  26. says

    At first I thought I was going to read about some odd Argentinean tradition of somehow playing golf with salsa. But I love this taste off and how the hotel participated!

    You must share the recipe so we can all reap the benefits. This makes me want to go back to Argentina so badly.

  27. Cristiana Javier says

    Hi, Matt! I’m a Brazilian chef/culinary teacher and I love your work and sense of humor! Here in Brazil Salsa Golf is also very popular. I don’t enjoy it that much, but here is a BASIC recipe. No, I’m not trying to compete with the Home Hotel recipe, I’m sure their recipe is much better! Enjoy!
    Molho Golf (Salsa Golf):
    2 1/2 ounces mayo (homemade is always much, much better!)
    1/2 ounce ketchup
    10 tablespoons heavy cream
    1 teaspoon cognac or brandy
    a dash (?) Worcestershire sauce
    Just combine all the ingredients and it’s ready!

  28. says

    Hi Matt,
    You definitely “oohs” and ahhhs” when you made this recipe love it!
    Thanks for sharing:) I love Argentina Saludos:)

    And you can visit me if I can visit you:)

    Welcome!
    foodcreate

  29. Cristiana Javier says

    Just correcting the recipe above:

    Molho Golf (Salsa Golf)
    10 TEASPOONS heavy cream, instead of 10 tablespoons…

  30. pam says

    yeah…uhm…i’m afraid this first time reader is having a hard time waiting on that recipe. it looks fabulous and now i’ll be coming back every day to check on your progress.

    was that the plan? ;-)

  31. says

    What a great entry! I was in stitches and yes, getting the recipe is a must. Or else, I will just have to take my own road trip to try it out :)

  32. says

    Looking forward to the recipe! We love Salsa Golf, too! I’m loving the image of you with a whole carry-on full of SG!

  33. says

    This post made me smile. Who would have ever imagined a tasting of Salsa Golf?!? Well done.

    Before I discovered the sauce’s real name, my mother made homemade Salsa Golf to top our steamed broccoli. It is the only way that our family would ever eat broccoli! Now I actually prefer my veggies without it. :-)

  34. says

    Hi Matt,

    I’m writing to you from Australia.. it’s 1.30am.. and definitely Zzzz-time. I found your blog quite randomly and love it! You’re funny & talented.. even the pic from your iPhone was great (the Argentinian beef)?

    I’m glad I’ve learned something new too… I’ve learned about the existence of ‘Salsa Golf’ !

    Your photo’s are amazing. I’ve been getting lazy lately and I’ve been taking food photo’s with my phone.. (which has so-so camera capabilities)..

    Cheers from Oz,

    Maria ;0

  35. says

    Was in Argentina 08/08. Discovered Salsa Golf and brought some back to the U.S. Ran out earlier this year. Emailed Hellman’s to inquire about acquiring some more; no response. Since no Home Hotel recipe seems to be forthcoming, I will try Cristiana’s. Thanks Cristiana

    -J

  36. de Rosario says

    Have you obtained the recipe of sauce golf?

    250 grs. of mayonnaise, 4 spoonfuls of ketchup, 2 teaspoonfuls of English sauce, 8 drops of juice of lemon, salt & black pepper. To mix.
    Saludos desde Argentina

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