Javi’s Cooking: traditional Argentine cuisine

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Christina Fossum/Staff

Javi Sandes, an Oakland-based chef, is both co-founder of the first-ever Argentinian food truck as well as a thriving local culinary mogul. While he searches for the perfect spot to open up his future restaurant, to be called Javi’s Parilla, he keeps himself busy by catering his mouthwatering empanadas to restaurants and tabling at events such as Oakland First Fridays.

Unbeknownst to us, we bit into our first heavenly bite of Javi’s Empanadas de Carne at the Oakland art fair Friday, fully expecting nothing special. But as we picked up the pastry and the buttery flakiness first slid against our fingers, we knew we had grossly underestimated what we were in for. We lifted our empanada to our mouth, with steam dissipating from the surface of its golden-brown crust flavorful enough to satisfy our hunger. As we bit in, our senses were immediately overwhelmed by the symphony of Latin flavors shooting through our body. A perfectly crafted layering of rich beef, smoky spices and crisp yet gluttonous crust could not have been better assembled had we done it ourselves! This was no ordinary empanada.

Snarfing up the last life-changing bite, we casually pretended not to be a little nostalgic for the spiritual summit we had reached only moments before, before we had finished our empanada. As we trudged past the galleries, we wondered why we were still thinking about that trivial little pastry. If only we could find as much meaning in the art we were surrounded by as we found in that little Argentinean delicacy!

Alas, the body works in interesting ways. Sometimes, it is best not to alter what our heart is trying to tell us and instead just give in. So, that’s what we did. As we headed north up Telegraph Avenue after a night of mobbing hipsters, unidentifiable art and overpriced cronuts, we just wanted another damn empanada! Heading toward the 1 bus back to Berkeley, we made a choice. We broke from the crowd and treated ourselves to a second piece of heaven. Although we may not have needed the extra calories, not a day has gone by that we have regretted our splurge, and not a day has gone by that we haven’t dreamt of those empanadas.

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Staff Photos/ Christina Fossum

Need Javi’s empanadas now?

Luckily for you, you don’t have to wait until the next first Friday of the month! Javi’s Traditional Argentine Cooking caters to the following Oakland restaurants:

  • Room 389
  • Lakeview Cafe
  • Haddon Hill Cafe
  • Somar Bar

Javi also sells his empanadas, chimichurri and alfajores online at javiscooking.com.

Contact Christina Fossum at [email protected].