The day started with a tour and a rousing breakfast at two of Santiago’s main food markets, but that was only the beginning of an epic day of eating some of the best food to be had in Chile (or anywhere for that matter). One of Chile’s finest chefs, Tomás Olivera Leiva took Bonjwing Lee and myself on the market tours. I love food markets. They tell so much about a place and these markets spoke volumes about the gastronomic wonders of Chile. Chef Olivera had other duties to attend to and after our market visit, he handed us over to Raul Yañez Campos, one of Chile’s top culinary enthusiasts, writers and critics to lead us to some of the most interesting and best food spots in and around Santiago. With his own blog, Criticas Gastronomicas, Campos, we discovered, was very well suited for the role.
Our first stop of the day was at a small restaurant in the hills on the outskirts of Santiago. El Meson de la Patagonia specializes in two products, both of which come from Chile’s southern area of Patagonia – lamb and king crab. Non-descript from the outside, we walked through the front door into a central courtyard with a large rectangular fire pit at its heart. Propped at angles over the glowing embers were several splayed out lambs cooking slowly over the afternoon heat.
I always looked at king crab as a species from northern polar waters. I never knew that it came from the frigid waters of the south as well. I learned here that indeed it does and it is every bit as delicious as its northern cousins. It was served simply with mayonnaise and fresh lemon.
This was served in a fashion similar to a carpaccio, only the meat was not raw. Once again served simply, it was accompanied by mustard, guacamole and mayonnaise.
The Patagonian lamb started coming out in many ways and cuts, all delicious! These loin chops still have me salivating.
A lamb hock was braised with carrots, peppers, onions and mushrooms.
Lamb skirt steak slices were as juicy and flavorful as they could be, which was plenty!
These full rib roasts were just outstanding! I need not say anything more about them other than the bones were pretty clean when we were done with them.
In addition to the various meat preparations, we enjoyed breads, fire-baked potatoes and grilled squash.
Executive chef Rodrigo Pizarro paid a visit to make sure everything was satisfactory. It certainly was.
The chef sent out a fine dessert tray to end our meal, which was just our first lunch of the day! There was fresh fruit, cheesecake, ice cream, creme brulée and a Suspiro Patagonico, a dessert based on manjar blanco (aka dulce de leche) and meringue and abetted by Patagonian fruit amongst others.
Unfortunately, Chefs Guzman and de Olarte had other obligations and couldn’t continue with us on our amazing culinary tour…