September: Empanada Time

Truth be told, it’s always empanada time in Chile, but September—the month of Chilenidad—would not be complete without endless rounds of empanadas. These savory stuffed turnover (my brother calls them Hot Pockets) originally crossed the Atlantic with the Spanish some 500 years ago and are now found throughout Latin America. Each culture has its own versions, and I’m sure people from other countries get just as serious about their versions as Chileans do about theirs.

While Chilean empanadas come in all sorts of baked and fried shapes, sizes, and fillings, in September, the only empanada that counts is the most traditional of all: the empanada de pino del horno: a baked beef-stuffed meat turn-over, considered best when they emerge hot from a rounded adobe oven  that dot the countryside in Central Chile.

Read on for more on empanadas and a list of the 21 top places in Santiago to find them! Continue reading

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Chile’s Culinary Front: the Best of 2010

It’s that time of year again: Chile’s El Mercurio newspaper’s Wikén magazine has announced its favorite Chefs and Restaurants for 2010. Here’s the skinny–in English– along with a bonus track…

El Mercurio's Revista Wikén, Aug 27, 2010

Cover Revista Wikén, Aug 27, 2010

At our house we always read Wikén, the weekly food, wine & entertainment supplement that comes with El Mercurio every Friday, but there is one edition per year that we especially look forward to. And today was the day: the Annual Ranking of Chile’s best chefs and restaurants.

You can read the whole thing yourself in Spanish here: (El Wikén: Mejores Chefs y Restaurantes 2010), but I’ll give you the basics in English right here, complete with comments as a bonus track. All restaurant addresses and phone numbers are listed in alphabetical order at the bottom of the page.

Click to discover what the crew at El Mercurio (and I) think about the Best Chefs, Best Restaurants, and up-and-coming people, trends & foodie hangouts in Chile er, Santiago, er, kinda the same thing… ? What do YOU think?

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Kankana del Elqui Solar Nº 10: new Syrah from Viña San Pedro

Tis the season… for new Chilean wine releases that is.
Viña San Pedro launched the latest results of its “Origins Project” last night: Kankana del Elqui Solar Nº 10 2007 Syrah, and I’ll tell you right up front: es una delicia… Even if you don’t speak Spanish, it should be easy enough to understand that this is one delicious wine.

Viña San Pedro Kankana del Elqui Solar Nº 10 Syrah 2007, Elqui Valley, ChileI originally planned to tell you the back story, that this is a cool-climate Syrah from an increasingly important denomination of origin (appellation) at the edge of the desert (Elqui Valley), about the climate and the soil, about where the name Kankana comes from (indigenous name for a mountain nearby), the story behind the label design, but no. We can get to all that wine-geeky stuff some other time.

Wine is about pleasure, so a wine review should start there. So I’ll tell you what you really want to know first, and then we can all go about our day and I’ll come back and tell the rest of the story later.

What you really want to know: Continue reading

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Just Say NO to Crispy Wine

¿Vino quebradizo?

Chilean Spanish uses lots of words borrowed from other languages, especially English, and, not being a purist, I generally have no problem with that—why would I? English is full of “borrowisms.”

But when it comes to “winespeak,” there’s one misused crossover that drives me up the wall. Wine is not, cannot, and never will be “crispy.” And I’ll tell ya why… Continue reading

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MOVI wins Vitivinicultural Initiative of the Year Award

By Margaret Snook

What a great night!
Chile’s Círculo de Cronistas Gastronómicas (Chilean Circle of Food & Wine Writers) held its annual awards ceremony last night to deliver its awards to those who rock Chile’s food & wine world. (See my write-up and the complete list of winners at Cachando Chile).

MOVI members, winners of the 2009 Viticultural Initiative of the Year Award, March 30, 2010 (Photo (c) MSnook)

As a member of this group, I had the right—and tremendous honor—of presenting an award to a group of innovative winemakers, several of whom I am proud to include among my friends (and not just on Facebook!).

I was very pleased to present the Iniciativa Vitivinícola del Año (Vitivinicultural Initiative Award) to MOVI, the Movimiento de Viñateros Independientes (Independent Vintners Movement). Continue reading

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Coquinaria: The Jury’s Still Out

CoquinariaThis is a place we’ve had our eye on for quite a while. A new concept in Santiago, an upscale market offering gourmet products (Chilean and imported)—a foodie’s delight—and tables indoors and out for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

We stopped by with friends the other night, originally on our way to someplace else, but stopped in to check it out and decided to stay.

The ambiance is delightful. Modern yet cozy, sophisticated yet friendly. My kinda place.

But I am sad to say that the dining side of the set-up still needs work. Continue reading

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Jofré: shall we stay, or shall we go…?

Cool place; great food… service? Room for work…

Did you ever notice how some people are just not cut out for service? And how much a difference it makes in how you feel about a place?

Last night a group of friends decided on the spur of the moment to go get a drink and a bite. Someone suggested Jofré… Great place; I’ve been there several times over the course of its 6 or so years in business… Low-key Latina bistro type, set in a renovated cité with small dining rooms and a nice terraza. There’s cool artwork on the exposed adobe walls,  the kitchen’s open to view, and the wine list is printed in colored chalk on an enormous board on the wall…

Food wise it’s a keeper too. The menu usually offers 4–5 reasonably priced dishes determined in accordance with the daily market finds… (in fact, the menu is printed daily). But last night we were there for drinks and apps, so I didn’t even check out the main courses.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. First impressions first. Let’s start with one foot in the door… Continue reading

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