Chile, the country, first came to my attention a couple of years ago when I saw Rodolfo Guzman of the Santiago restaurant Boragó speak at the StarChefs ICC. His presentation which featured ingredients indigenous to the country and totally unknown to me, fascinated and inspired. His dishes were beautiful and stirred my imagination. This appetite was further stoked last summer when I was able to taste a dish of Guzman’s and saw another, different presentation at the first ever Mesamerica Congress in Mexico City. Getting to Chile became a personal priority. My wish came true when I was invited on a media trip to Chile sponsored by ProChile, a government sponsored organization put together to promote the country’s exports and organized by Imagen de Chile, the foundation responsible for promoting the country’s image internationally. This was all done through a campaign called Foods From Chile.
The tour was going to be a set itinerary starting ending in the capitol city of Santiago and including visits to the arid northern area of the Elqui Valley for a visit to a winery going back to very old ways of making wines to a packager of organic apples prepared for the export market and a modern winery in the Casablanca Valley to the colorful port city of Valparaíso to the rugged beauty of the wine-rich Colchagua Valley and the modern splendor of the ultra luxe Clos Apalta vineyards of Casa Lapostolle.
The itinerary did not include my main objective – to eat the food of Rodolfo Guzman at Boragó, so in order to accomplish that and more, I flew into Santiago two days before the official start of the trip where I met my friend, Bonjwing Lee (aka Ulterior Epicure) who had already been there for two days. There, with the help of Chef Guzman and others we got to taste not only Boragó, but a variety of Chilean culinary experiences from simple but extraordinary market food to world class meat and seafood to a ridiculously good roadside restaurant that provided a broad taste of some of the best the country has to offer. Much of the food I encountered was strange and novel to me and much was quite familiar, coming from Amero-European tradition.
The trip turned out to be one of epic proportions with wonderful food, grand experiences, majestic views and fine fellowship. Please stay tuned as I chronicle these experiences in the weeks ahead. Chile is a country that at the moment is not on the radar for most American culinary travelers, but it has a lot to offer and I suggest that it deserves major consideration for any traveler looking for a beautiful, safe, different and delicious place to visit.