Scenes from Uruguay

Some of our favorite images from chef Ignacio Mattos' Uruguay adventure

We sent writer Gabe Ulla to Uruguay with chef Ignacio Mattos of New York City's Estela. Estela's beverage director, Thomas Carter, and photographer Marcus Nilsson came along for the ride, too—here, some of our favorite photos and stories from their adventure.

Uruguay, Roadtrip
This is about halfway between Montevideo and José Ignacio, when things start getting beachy. It's one of the biggest cities on the eastern part of Uruguay. It's quite touristy, but it has its charm in the winter. If you go, check out the old port. —IgnacioMarcus Nilsson
Uruguay, Roadtrip
The thing that makes a huge difference with grilling in Uruguay is the wood. It's extraordinary. The way it holds the heat is much more controlled than what I've encountered in many other places. It makes for a contained, well-distributed fire that doesn't die out too quickly and lets the meat cook slowly. - Ignacio MattosMarcus Nilsson
Uruguay, Roadtrip
This was the very end of our trip, when it started to register that things were coming to a close and we got a little bit reflective. We also spent hours helping Marcus find the right light. I was with my son, my most beloved friends, in this perfect setting. - IgnacioMarcus Nilsson
Uruguay, Roadtrip
This was very nostalgic for me. It beckons to the days of backyard barbecuing, when the work station was usually a makeshift cardboard panel. - Thomas CarterMarcus Nilsson
Uruguay, Roadtrip
This was the main attraction for our beachy lunch in José Ignacio. This hanging technique is used to keep my son from playing around with the fish. It also happens to help dry the skin before grilling. - IgnacioMarcus Nilsson
Uruguay, Roadtrip
La Caracola was wonderful, but I really didn't find the boat to be necessary. It's cute, yes, but I was hoping for something more substantial. - ThomasMarcus Nilsson
Uruguay, Roadtrip
For that first lunch, a bunch of my old friends came out of the woodwork and helped make everything happen. They made my job easy. This is Gonzalo Zubiri, one of my only childhood friends. He's now doing some really interesting artisanal bread in the Montevideo. —IgnacioMarcus Nilsson
Uruguay, Roadtrip
This is about halfway between Montevideo and José Ignacio, when things start getting beachy. It's one of the biggest cities on the eastern part of Uruguay. It's quite touristy, but it has its charm in the winter. If you go, check out the old port. —IgnacioMarcus Nilsson
Uruguay, Roadtrip
Marcus Nilsson
Uruguay, Roadtrip
This is the Chaja, which is in pretty much every single 'restaurant' in Uruguay. You get emotionally attached to it forever, but over time, you realize your palate outgrows it… —IgnacioMarcus Nilsson
Uruguay, Roadtrip
Everyone pitched in to prep for the lunch we prepared in Jose Ignacio. We made mayo, picked crab meat, and came up with a bunch of things on the fly, with the breeze coming in nonstop, which was a bit of a problem occasionally. Just like old times. - IgnacioMarcus Nilsson
Uruguay, Roadtrip
This is the Guido Zarate mobile—Guido is a former male model and a great friend. The car spends its summers in Jose Ignacio, and the rest of the year in Buenos Aires. It runs on Malbec. - IgnacioMarcus Nilsson
Uruguay, Roadtrip
I was running around La Caracola trying to get a feel for things when all of a sudden I noticed that New York powerhouse Gabrielle Hamilton, chef-owner of Prune, had rolled up to join our lunch. She was in town We had no idea. What a pleasant surprise. - Gabe UllaMarcus Nilsson
Uruguay, Roadtrip
I can't imagine a more perfect place for a late lunch than La Caracola. The structure sits on a peninsula, and we had the most beautiful weather. It feels like a massive, airy cabana, with the sea on one side and the green countryside on the other. You could stay there forever. - IgnacioMarcus Nilsson
Uruguay, Roadtrip
When you eat asado, you can't serve it with anything too fussy. But you do need something to cut through the meat and fat, and there is nothing better than a simply dressed plate of tomatoes. - IgnacioMarcus Nilsson
Uruguay Mattos char-grilled sweet breads
There is no better way to eat sweetbreads than this: with lemon, salt, and bread. And chimichurri, of course, is a must. It's pure and efficient, an Uruguayan birthright. - IgnacioMarcus Nilsson
Uruguay 58 Chevy Impala road trip
Our car ride was transformative, in that you're in this huge American car in the woods in Uruguay and so disconnected from the way things are at home. All that said: The backseat wasn't as roomy as I had hoped for. - ThomasMarcus Nilsson