Messina Hof Chile Trip 2015 – Santiago
-By Mike Vidrine
February 7th, 2015 – Saturday
There are 23 of us Gringos in the group.
There are about 6 million people in Santiago and about 17 million in the entire country according to Paula (our guide). Over half of Chile’s income is from copper, agriculture is 2nd, third is timber and 4th is wine. The government taxes wine at 45% in country, thus incentivizing the export of wine. Theoretically it is cheaper to buy Chilean wine in the US than in Chile. While on the walking tour we visited the cathedral on the city square – a typical Spanish city design and we took pictures with the guards at the Presidential Palace. Part of our walking tour included the fish market where we had lunch as well. Back to the hotel for a brief rest then off to dinner. We got a little taste of Chilean history/politics today. Dinner was at Como Agua Para Chocolate which is apparently also the name of a famous book. Both meals today were very large and included a pisco sour plus wine. Pisco is a distilled spirit made from wine. As I later gathered, the wine is from the north region and is predominantly made from Muscat grapes.
Como Agua Pura Chocolate restaurant
Guards at the Presidential Palace
February 8th, 2015 – Sunday
…drove to the Santa Rita winery south of Santiago – not far from the town of Alto Jahvel. This is an historic Hacienda and provided safe haven for 120 fighters during the revolution. The winery produces a wine called 120 in recognition. We toured the winery then we had a wine blending contest with the group divided up into 4 teams. Lunch at the winery followed – another large meal with wine. There are particularly beautiful bougainvilleas at this winery.
Santa Rita winery
Winning team of the wine blending competition
See blogs Santa Cruz and Valparaiso for the 9th – 12th.
February 13th, 2015 – Friday
This will be our last day in Chile. We started the day with a tour of the La Vega market in Santiago. This is a very large market specializing in Chilean and some imported agricultural products and is made up of a number of sections including La Vega Chica, La Vega Central and Tirso de Molina. Dogs and cats roam freely throughout Chile and the market is no exception. They have the biggest ears of corn I have ever seen. We saw a lot of avocado for sale and we were told that this is practically a staple in the Chilean diet – they particularly like the Haas avocado. A lot of what is sold in the market is seconds because apparently they export the highest grade stuff – but most everything looked pretty good to me. I was taught a local expression by both of our guides – Puta Madre! – Which I was told was the equivalent of oh my god! – but it sounds a bit nastier to me. They have their own version of prickly pear here and consume a lot of the fruit which they also call tuna. Turns out I was selecting and drinking the juice of the tuna for breakfast almost every morning. It is deep red and much sweeter than I would have imagined. Our guide got us a selection of fresh sliced fruits and fruit juices to sample. We hadn’t eaten for an hour so I suppose they were worried about us! We had mango, peach, melons, dragon fruit and pepino dulce (sweet cucumber). After the market, and for contrast, we visited a very high end wine shop and an adjacent gourmet food shop.
Lunch today was at Ambrosia, which is rated in the top 50 in Latin America and only one of 3 in Chile. Lots of hors d’ouevres before lunch, with wine of course – or pisco sours. One of the appetizers included piure – sea urchin – I always wanted to try this and now that I have, I don’t need to order it – ever. The scallops here and everywhere I’ve had them in Chile, were especially good and served with the roe like it is done in Australia.