Comida Chilena

31 Jan

We are eating well. The markets are full of fresh produce. Chile supplies North and South America with fruits and vegetables which cannot be grown in colder climates. For that reason the markets here have a plentiful but relatively narrow selection of fruits and vegetables.DSC05712 Unlike Italy where there might be 10 varieties of tomato in the market on any market day, here there are beautiful displays of two varieties of tasty tomato stacked with a soft hand.  A wide variety of table grapes and raisins are available as Valparaiso’s climate is conducive to growing. In fact, vineyards lie just outside of the city on all sides.

Though we cook at home quite a bit, we have also been sampling Valpo’s restaurants. I apologize to all of the foodies in our audience as we do not have the Chilean names for each of these dishes. We don’t speak enough Spanish to know what we are eating until it arrives. This results in some lovely surprises.

So I will do my best to tell you a bit about our relished meals…

On a winding street below our house is “Caperucita Roja y El Lobo” (Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf) restaurant. We sat on a sunny balcony overlooking the city as we ate a late lunch. Lunch in Chile  is 1 to 4 p.m. Dinner is 7 or 8 to 11 p.m.  Hearty breakfasts are almost non-existent here. Valparaiso’s active night life may preclude the day’s earliest meal.

DSC05553The restaurant had only been reopened for ten days. The newly married owners were the chef (he) and the maitre d (she.)We trusted the maitre d to recommend our dishes and Dana tried puipo (octopus.) It was an intense purple-red against the white plate and the suction cups made an intricate pattern on the surface of the mollusk.

The octopus sat on a bed of delicately seasoned mashed sweet potato with a golden sauce accented with basil. The texture and flavor were excellent. More octopus will be ordered in the coming weeks.

DSC05551I think I ate a variety of conger eel. When I ordered the maitre d explained it as a long and tubular fish with somewhat hard texture. The resulting dish was soft and succulent served on bed of seasoned mashed potato. Again a delicious sauce covered the seafood.

Another day we ate at a modest local restaurant that is on the street where we take our collectivo (shared cab) for a ride up Cerro Bellavista. “El Pimeñton” (The Paprika) was recommended by Bart, our host at “Bellavista Cottage,” the name of our apartment.DSC05671

I started with a salad of chopped cabbage, cucumbers, carrots and corn with a cilantro, lime and oil dressing, crunchy and a great beginning.

I followed this with a hearty chilean stew of potatoes, carrots and squash served with a fried egg on top. The stew had a subtle peppery/paprika taste but was not “hot.”

DSC05673I am learning that Chilean food is not hot like Mexican. The flavors are much more subtle. Dana had a seafood dish that was a combination of fish mixed with rice with a hollandaise-like sauce and topping.

Of course I tasted Dana’s and again the seasoning is complex and subtle complementing the seafood’s flavor.DSC05674

Dessert was a sweet Chilean specialty that reminded me of a light bread pudding made with honey, not sugar.

A perfect ending to a humble and delicious meal.



3 Responses to “Comida Chilena”

  1. Neil Freer February 1, 2013 at 12:28 am #

    How do the price ranges run……..using, say, Harry’s as benchmark?
    The food looks like it is prepared in a sanitary way with quite a bit of esthetic sense. Very tasty looking and I like the subtlety you describe of the spicy side. Yes.

    • Jill February 1, 2013 at 6:19 am #

      Regarding prices…at Pimento the price of a meal including a glass of wine, salad, main course and dessert was 3500 Chilean Pesos or about $6. At Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf prices were higher. We paid about 8500 CLP for the entree alone or about $16. Wine, appetizer and dessert were all a la carte. So one is less expensive than Harry’s, the other is more expensive. But, I have to say that Little Red was an elegant, white tablecloth, four-course meal in gorgeous surroundings so the price was very reasonable compared to a comparable meal in the US.

  2. Ursula Freer January 31, 2013 at 9:57 pm #

    Sounds delicious! Wish I could sample it.

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