Gastronomic trip Chile – Part 1
Chile is quite an understated country in terms of gastronomy and ingredients. While its neighbouring countries like Peru or Argentina get all the credits from the gastronomy world, the Chilean government is making a move to change this perception. As the country is exceptionally rich in terms of ingredients, great restaurants and diversity of dishes, it deserves to get a spot on the world’s gastronomy map. For example, did you know that Chile is the biggest exporter in the world of blueberries, grapes, plums, trout, pacific salmon and mussels?
One of the most important restaurants in this Chilean gastronomy movement is Boragó, where Chef Rodolfo Guzman is cooking exclusively with Chilean ingredients, incorporating recipes and preparations from ancient Chilean history as well as modern techniques and products. We had the opportunity to get acquainted with this beautiful country and sample some of the world’s best produce. In one week we foraged at the wild coastline as well as in the mountains, glazed at the stars in the Atacama Desert, visited beautiful cities like metropolitan Santiago and picturesque Valparaiso, and, of course, sampled tons of delicious ingredients, extraordinary dishes and addictive beverages.
After 24 hours of travel we were happy to find some time to relax at the pool of The Aubrey Hotel in the Bella Vista district of Santiago. The Aubrey is a small and cosy boutique hotel set against a hill next to the Santiago zoo. It features a nice swimming pool, a piano bar and 15 fully equipped rooms.
In the afternoon we joined the team of restaurant Boragó to visit their organic farm just outside the city. Chef Rodolfo Gùzman showed us where they forage some of their herbs and vegetables, their chickens (without a tail!) and blue eggs.
For sunset, and, of course, a refreshing Pisco Sour, we headed to the rooftop bar of hotel Noi. This luxury hotel is located in the trendy and upscale Vitacura region, just a few blocks from 99 restaurant where we had dinner that evening.
Restaurant 99 is one of the newer restaurants in Santiago and the chef, Kurt Schmidt, is an ex-chef from Boragó. He serves a creative interpretation of the Chilean cuisine in a trendy and no-nonsense atmosphere. Please click here for the full review of this true Chilean bistronomie discovery.
The day after we re-joined the team of Boragó to forage for herbs, plants and vegetables at the coast near Valparaiso. The scenery in this area is breath-taking with green cliffs arising from the ocean, desolate and pristine beaches, pine tree forests, and, above all, an exceptional vegetation. It is here that Rodolfo and his team gather multiple times per week to pick these wonderful herbs, flowers, roots and vegetables. Not only is it a source of great produce, the team also hails inspiration from these trips out of the city. Moreover, it strengthens the bond between the chefs and these ingredients, which results in a more conscious use of this produce, and creation of the dishes.
On the way back to Santiago we made a quick stop at El Quillay, a local restaurant specialized in the Chilean speciality ‘Empanadas’. Empanadas are stuffed pastries with a filling of cheese, beef or other ingredients. They are traditionally prepared in a clay oven, giving the bread a crispy, solid structure.
The highlight of our Chilean trip was the visit to Boragó restaurant, n° 5 in the list of South-America’s best restaurants. Chef Rodolfo Guzmán’s dedication and persistent pursuit of 100 percent Chilean ingredients has resulted not only in the awareness for Chilean products and gastronomy, it has also resulted in a restaurant that excels in the use of this local produce, extraordinary flavours and an overall memorable dining experience. You can find the full review of this exceptional dinner here.
A visit to Chile is not complete without a visit to one of the hundreds of vineyard, spread all across the country. We visited the Emiliana winery, located in the Casablanca valley near Santiago. This winery is the biggest organic vineyard in the world and believes that using sustainable, organic, and biodynamic agricultural practices results in better-balanced, healthier, and more productive vineyards, which in turn results in better quality grapes and therefore better wines. The company’s philosophy is based on two essential principles: care for the environment and respect for our workers and community.
After a great wine tasting with view on the vineyards we were ready for lunch in the garden, accompanied by pairing wines from Emiliana.
After this beautiful lunch we drove back to Santiago to visit the local market and to sample some local specialities: the ’Terremote’ (earthquake), which is Pipeño (a type of sweet fermented wine) with pineapple ice-cream served in a one-litre glass; a local Sangria; and the Mote con Huesillo, cooked dried peaches and stewed corn served as a drink.
Our last day in Santiago started with a trip to the ecological reservation Chacabuco, where the Boragó team took us to forage for parasites on wild cactuses. These parasites produce a kind of sweet, greasy berries that are used in the kitchen.
The rest of the day was filled with restaurants: the famous Europeo restaurant for a 10-course lunch, and the new and upcoming restaurant Ambrosia for a 10-course dinner (n° 37 in Latin America’s 50 best restaurant list 2014).
After Santiago, it was time to find out more about Chile’s other interesting cities and its beautiful nature…