By Karen Leiva
Arriving midday in Santiago, travelling with my husband, our first plan was to find good food and relax on a patio to enjoy the good weather before joining a culinary tour the following day. We found the perfect spot located in the popular Bellavista neighborhood, a trendy spot for restaurants, patios, cafes and bars.
Wanting to eat light, but try lots of new things, we ordered a platter of typical Chilean appetizers. The dish included three small clay pots of seafood stew, chupe; the first was a creamy mixture of shrimp; the second a thick orange-colored stew made with sea urchin; the final a white fish stew. On the side was half a dozen machas, razor clams deliciously baked with melted cheese on top.
Next, chicken pil pil, a bowl of bite-sized chicken parcels cooked in deliciously light chili and garlic oil, served in a traditional dark clay pot. Alongside the chicken, were three different kinds of empanada served with a fig compote and pebre, a salsa of tomato, onion and coriander.
For this meal, we enjoyed perfectly wrapped pino empanadas, cheese empanadas, so warm and fresh the cheese practically oozes from the pastry; and a third which I had never tasted before, stuffed with a mixture of sweet corn widely popular in most Chilean homes, known as pastel de choclo.
For dessert, we ordered pear tart, artistically plated with a scoop of white late harvest ice cream. That ice cream is, by far, the best I have ever tasted. Late harvest refers to grapes left to grow on the vine until the end of the harvest – the longer they are left there, the sweeter they become. These grapes are typically used dessert wines. In the ice cream, every small spoonful was a burst of wine flavor.
It was the perfect start to a real Bon Vivant holiday!