Food and travel blogger Sven Van Coillie of Belgian Taste Buds tell us why Chile is the next big thing on the culinary map.
Belgium-based Sven van Coillie regularly documents his culinary travels, offering an inside view of luxury restaurants and hotels. One destination that surprised the frequent traveller was Chile. “It is quite an understated country in terms of gastronomy and ingredients. While its neighbours Peru and Argentina get all the credit from the gastronomy world, the Chilean government is making a move to change this perception.” In fact, the country already produces a plethora of ingredients. “The country is exceptionally rich in terms of ingredients. Did you know that Chile is the world’s biggest exporter of blueberries, grapes, plums, trout, pacific salmon and mussels?”
One of the most important restaurants in the Chilean gastronomy movement is boragó, where Chef Rodolfo Guzman cooks exclusively with Chilean ingredients, incorporating recipes and preparations from ancient Chilean history as well as modern techniques and products. Guzmán gets endless inspiration from his environment and diversified ecosystems: venison crudo from patagonia; a salad of wild plants from the Andes; rica rica (herb) from the Atacama desert; fruits that only grow at 3,000 meters altitude; wild plants that only exist two weeks per year in the desert. The uniqueness of this produce, and the preparation techniques used, guarantee an experience you have never had before.
At Restaurant 99 Chef Kurt Schmidt (who previously worked at boragó) serves a creative interpretation of Chilean cuisine in a trendy, no-nonsense atmosphere. Schmidt often goes to the Mercado Central himself to select fresh ingredients. His focus on the essence of the product is the strength of his cuisine with dishes like smoked deer tartar with oxalis leaves, textures of mushrooms with powder of dark pine mushroom, confit lamb tongue with cauliflower purée, plums and caramel, and duck with pickled onions and pear. pastry Chef, Gustavo Sáez, is one of the most talented in Chile with tasteful creations based on only a few ingredients like carrot sorbet with coconut foam and caramelised peanuts.
El quillay is a local restaurant specializing in Chilean Empanadas, stuffed pastries with a filling of cheese, beef or other ingredients. They are traditionally prepared in a clay oven, giving the pastry a crisp, solid structure.
A visit to Chile is not complete without a visit to one of the hundreds of vineyard, spread across the country. Emiliana winery, located in the Casablanca valley is the biggest organic vineyard in the world. The company’s philosophy is based on two essential principles: care for the environment and respect for our workers and community.
Osaka, a Nikkei (fusion Japanase-peruvian) restaurant at the W hotel in the business area of Santiago, creates a perfect synergy between sweet, sour bitter and umami flavours, the trademark of executive Chef Ciro Watanabe. The Chef’s signature dishes are the tiradito ceviche in which raw fish sashimi is flavoured with spicy sauces. With the Tiradito Mi peru he serves the best scallops from Tongoy in Chile with sweet potato tempura and coriander oil. With a dynamic team managed by Carolina bazán and Rosario Onetto, Ambrosia serves comfort food with intense flavours. From the outside, a residential house hardly hints at the bustling restaurant inside. The cuisine is obviously influenced by chef Bazán’s travels: fresh home-made pasta from Italy; pure and intense dishes with a French background; locally influenced dishes like ceviche and seasonings from all around the world. Just like bazán’s dreadlocks and striking tattoos, her food is alternative and cosmopolitan, but delicious and fresh. and cosmopolitan, but delicious and fresh.
NOT TO MISS
1 Valparaíso, known for its San Francisco-like hills and traditional, colourful houses, has a more South-American feel than Santiago.
2 Atacama Desert. One of the top activities in Chile, this otherworldly terrain boasts several interesting sites: areas can be the Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley), Salar de Atacama (Atacama salt flat) and the El Tatio geyser field. The town of San pedro de Atacama (which lies at 2000 m) makes a good base for visiting the sights.
Visit the local markets to sample local specialties: terremote (earthquake), made of pipeño (a type of sweet fermented wine) with pineapple ice-cream served in a one-litre glass; local Sangria; and mote con huesillo, cooked dried peaches and stewed corn served as a drink.
Do you want more from Adventures South of The Equator? This original article first appeared in the Winter 2016 issue of City Style and Living Magazine.