Thursday, April 3, 2014

Special Feature: The Food of Chile

Before I begin this post, my thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Chile of the recent earthquake.  We were not anywhere near the area where we had the earthquake, but my thoughts go out to family members of those we met in Santiago who live in that region of the country.


                                          Seafood Salad at La Perla, Santiago, Chile

My husband, Dan, and I both compete in the amateur cooking contests, as you know.  As a prize for one of the contests Dan won, we were both guests of Santa Rita winery for his prize in the "Kick it Up a Nacho" contest.  Interestingly, he was a last minute entry.  We just got back this week.  What a great trip.

This post isn't going to be a travel-log.   I am not endorsing any of the establishments here.   I wanted to share some of my favorite that I had in Chile, so that you can get an idea as to what type of food to expect if you travel there.

Tonight's post will be a little different as I am not providing recipes as these are not my dishes.  But I wanted to show you the types of food that ate while there.  I will give you an idea of how these were prepared. 

I was amazed at how many American chains are in Santiago.  From fast food to Chinese, you can find it all.  But who wants to eat someplace where you can eat at home?

Let me start with my favorite meal.  As guests of the Casa Real at Santa Rita, we were treated to breakfast each day, and one lunch and two dinners at the hotel.  By far my favorite was this almond crusted salmon that we had for lunch.  Deliciously seasoned and perfectly. It was served with peeled, boiled potatoes and asparagus sautéed with translucent onion.  The almond crust was superb. 

I am going to try to recreate this dish.  I'll be posting my version very soon!

The salmon was served with a starter of pumpkin soup.  The pumpkin was pureed with other vegetables to create this delicious appetizer.  The soup was quite savory. 

My second favorite meal on property was at the Dona Paula restaurant on the Santa Rita winery grounds, just a short walk from Casa Real.  The Dona Paula is a national monument, and is said to have housed the 120 soldiers who helped win Chile's independence.    It was a delicious swordfish with the best lemon caper butter sauce I had ever eaten.  It was served with creamed spinach pie.

At the same meal, Dan had the mushroom sauced sirloin with fries.

We also had our last night at Casa Real.  It was sirloin with sautéed mushroom and onions and accordion potatoes.  The starter for this meal with a delicious warm shrimp and zucchini salad with a lime and cilantro vinaigrette


The meals at the Santiago portion of our trip were not included (except for the daily buffet breakfast offered by the hotel).  We found a wonderful local seafood restaurant at the mall called La Perla.  The seafood salad you see at the top of this page -- we liked it so much that we ate it for lunch on both Saturday and Sunday.  It was big enough to split.  We also split a plate of crab empanadas (it comes in four pieces) on Saturday.  On Sunday we tried the beef empanadas instead.  I have to say, they were good, but I preferred the crab, especially with a drizzle of the lemon oil that they bring to your table.   The sauces you see in the picture below are served with bread.  I rather enjoyed the artichoke and cilantro sauce with crusty bread.  Yum!

There were more food experiences, such as a delicious Chilean Sea bass we were served for dinner the first night at Casa Real.  I will also be posting a great Trip Advisor review about a great wine and tapas bar we found in Santiago.  The wine bar was on our own dime, and unfortunately, we dug into the tapas before thinking about taking pictures. I did get pictures of the establishment.

Finally, you're probably wondering what you get for dessert?  We had a couple of great custard dishes (with chocolate), but I found this was the most interesting.  It was type of gelatin with blueberries with a cream sauce on the side. 

As you can see, the food in Chile, while perhaps not as adventuresome as Peruvian cuisine, is heavy on seafood and beef.  At the restaurants, you can also find more traditional dishes such as seafood casserole and seafood soup.   Jellies, jams and sauces are served with freshly baked bread.  This is a sampling of what we had. 

I hope you enjoyed this culinary journey, and I'll see you soon!