Casa Luz

Stepping into restaurant Casa Luz is a little bit like entering someone´s home, albeit one dripping with an infinite amount of style.  The decor is warm and inviting, with plates and picture frames hanging off of exposed brick and deeply painted walls, and there are huge vases of freshly cut flowers. The centerpiece of this five-year old restaurant, however, is the atrium that greets you upon entering, and which allows for shafts of stark light to bathe the elegantly composed tables.

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I have come to Casa Luz on the recommendation of a friend who described the restaurant as both romantic and delicious.  I concur with both statements, as you shall see.

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First up we ordered some starters.  Casa Luz offers no traditional entradas but instead has a variety of small tapas to choose from.  We tried the Camerones con Cabeza, Ajo y Perejil flameados en Ron and the Patatas Bravas con Aioli.  

Next came our mains. My Merluza a la Plancha, Risotto de Cilantro & Salsa de Crustaceos was very nice and light; the fish was cooked to perfection and the coriander risotto was a nice touch.

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However, Luis´ main dish, the Risotta de Hongos, was absolutely spectacular. Even now, a few days later, I am finding it difficult to describe the depth of flavors the dish had.  It was very more-ish, and perhaps a bit heavy for those strange folks among us who don´t like mushrooms, but for me it tasted a little bit like how I imagine heaven to taste like if it was my dinner.  So, so scrumptious!

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For dessert, I ordered the Mousse de Chocolate y Cardamomo. Again, this was a nice and light dessert, beautifully presented, but I am not a fan of passionfruit icecream.

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There was a dessert special that day, which was a Barbaroa de Naranja. This was delicious and ended our meal out on a very high note.

Verdict: It is, in fact, exactly what the website states it is: sophisticated but simple food utilizing unusual, seasonal ingredients that are presented in a stunning, warm environment.  A perfect place for a romantic night out.

The Nitty Gritty

Address: Av. Italia 805, Providencia, Santiago

Phone: 2 2918 7204

Email: info@casaluzrestaurant.cl

Website here.

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Did you like this? Don´t forget to LIKE me on Facebook or FOLLOW this blog to be notified about new blogs! Here are some other foodie posts to check out:

Foodlays Chinese Restaurant

Rico Saigon Cafe

Quinoa Vegetarian Restaurant

I-Ching Chinese Restaurant

Autumn Giveaway!!

 

Foodlays Chinese Food

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Chinese Food Interesting Tidbits

Chinese food follows the basic principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which uses food as a way to treat disease, recover from injury and improve overall general wellbeing. There are five flavors that form the basis of dishes, of which taste is considered the most important factor and the soul of the food.   These are: salty, sweet, spicy, sour and bitter. The most dominant flavor you taste in a dish depends on the region you are in, therefore each plate can reveal to you an area´s geography, history and geography.

Spice expels wind and cold from the body.  It is popular in Central and Southern China. notably Hunan and Sichuan cuisine.

Salty food should be eaten sparingly and is for dissolving ¨stagnation¨.  This food is popular in the North of China, because there is a lack of fresh vegetables in winter so food is preserved using salt.

Sweet flavors can improve your mood and health while also cutting through the greasiness of some dishes.  Dishes that are predominately sweet originate from the East of China.

The sour taste is popular in the South, and is a very important part of TCM. It helps with digestion, quenches thirst and can also reduce a dish´s greasiness or fish flavor. Sour foods are common in the South where people are generally poor, and who pickle most of their foods to avoid wastage.

Bitterness is a component in many dishes alongside other flavors.  It is used to make dishes seem fresher and to satiate your appetite.

The North of China produces a lot of wheat, and so the people eat things like dumplings, wheat noodles and steamed or stuffed buns.  In the South they rarely eat wheat and instead rely upon rice products, of which they use in every meal.

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The quantity of fruit and vegetables eaten in China is double that of the Western diet, and they use dozens of varieties that are unknown outside of China, including many types of weed-like plants that have not been translated into English.  Food is eaten seasonally, in order to balance one´s yin, yang, dryness or dampness (TCM components). Bones are an important element of dishes, so fish is usually not served filleted, while the appearance of a dish is often symbolic, using shapes, colors and textures to represent traditions, holidays and superstitions.

 

Traditionally, food is served to be shared, placed in the middle of the table, which in restaurants is usually a turntable to promote the communal nature of eating.

Enter Foodlays, a large restaurant located near to La Vega in Santiago.

 

In my opinion, the food at I Ching in Independencia had bigger portions and nicer food but a few dishes really stood out, particularly the Spicy Eggplant plate as well as most of the noodle dishes.

The Nitty Gritty:

Disabled/pushchair access in lifts

Customer carparking (ask the guard at the entrance)

Outdoor patio, which we used as a kids playground when we were there (we didn´t see any smokers)

Most vegetable dishes options contain meat so ask before you order if you are vegetarian. 

Address: Los Artesanos 681, 3rd floor, Recoleta. Metro Patronato or Cal y Canto.

 

Note: A glance at the Facebook page for this restaurant shows a few bad reviews due to the presence of shark fin soup. I did not see this option on the menu when I was there. This post has not been sponsored.

 

 


If you like this post, check out:

I Ching Chinese Restaurant

Rico Saigon Vietnamese Food

The Santiago List 2017

Santiago – a city that is appearing in magazines and soaring up city polls everywhere. A stable place broken only by strikes, car horns, taxi/Uber strife and the odd delinquent. The restaurant scene is thriving, bursting forth as one of the top food destinations in South America with a growing ethnic scene that can rival overseas capital cities. Here is the list of places to see this year:

FOOD

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Cafe: Wonderland Cafe  (Barrio Lastarria)

Quirky and shabby chic would probably be the best words to describe Wonderland. Located in the best barrio for cafes, this addition deserves a mention just for its Drink Me: dessert and drink in one (chocolate is best). It also serves up a pretty decent brunch, that includes baked beans, sourdough bread and bacon.

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Cakes:  Pasteleria Lalaleelu (Ñuñoa)

Yet again, Lalaleelu takes the number one spot for cakes in the city. This tiny, family run establishment thrives, firstly because of its amazing customer service and secondly (its a tie) because of its quality tortas and pasteles that blend fine dining, french pastry techniques and casual. Order the Diablo or the Jeezy Limon.

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Casual: Tiramisu (Las Condes)

A few years ago, Tiramisu was the place to go. It´s star has faded a bit since then, but it still remains a good option for those needing something fast, casual, tasty and filling in a nice setting. The pizzas, pastas and breads are all good, as are the desserts, and the service is extremely professional. It is a great option for families and is not expensive.

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Ethnic Restaurant: Rico Saigon (Recoleta)

The restaurant doesn´t have the wow factor that its neighbour, Vietnam Discovery, does, but the food wins by leaps and bounds in the taste stakes. This is genuine, home cooked Vietnamese food – in fact you could easily think you are sitting in Mai´s dining room (you are).

Fine Dining Restaurant: 99 Restaurant (Providencia)

This restaurant is winning in every way. It´s been named one of the 25 best restaurants in Latin America and is frequently lauded by the dining out community, though it has yet to become common knowledge. Excellent value, service and food – make your booking before it really reaches its stride.

Food Delivery: La Paloma Saludables (Santiago)

Organic fruit, vegetables, Weleda products, vegan options, and things such as almond flour and coconut oil – all delivered to your door. Friendly service and they have a refrigerated van.

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Photo: Agricola Tinajacura

Free Range: Agricola Tinajacura (La Reina)

The physical store is in La Reina, but Tinajacura deliver to all of Santiago. This family run business sells free range eggs and meat from happy chickens, and antibiotic-free lamb.

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Home Cooked: South Indian Flavours (Las Condes)

Ingredients brought from India combined with lengthy fermentation techniques and prepared from scratch using the best fresh vegetables and meat from Tinajacura, this is the best option for Indian food, south Indian style, for you to enjoy in your own home.

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Romantic: Zully (Barrio Concha y Toro)

Visually, Zully is a restaurant that cannot be beaten, nestled in a sector with the power to transport you back in time. Its steps are laden with rose petals, there are expansive flower arrangements on each table and the themed rooms are dimly lit, quiet and private – perfect for eye gazing. The food is impressive – visibly stunning – and the restaurant frequently has deals.

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Touristic: Peumayen (Bellavista)

Peumayen is a beautiful restaurant. The service is amazing, waiters are bilingual and professional and the food … the food is so good. It might not be for everyone given that it combines various indigenous foods and amalgamates them into a fine dining experience (that means ingredients like horse, testicles etc).

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Vegan: Vegan Bunker (Ñuñoa)

This place is my go-to for a quick bite to eat that is healthy and cheap – bonus points for being vegan. They always have a filling set menu but the real highlight is the cake display – so good!

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Vegetarian: El Huerto (Providencia)/ Quinoa (Vitacura)

This was a difficult toss up. On the one hand, El Huerto has huge portions that are delicious and spread across various cuisines, but it also has average service and a below average seating arrangement. Quinoa, on the other hand, has a relaxed and calm setting with good service and excellent food but the menu is smaller and portions are definitely so.  Varanasi (Vitacura) is another excellent option for vegetarians but it is not strictly veg-only – the menu contains meat, chicken and fish, as well as gluten free and vegan meals.

 

SIGHTS

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Bahai Temple (Peñalolen)

Joining temples in India, Australia, Uganda, Germany, Panama, Samoa and North America (among others), this center of religious worship welcomes all creeds and provides a relaxing, tranquil setting to commune with oneself or a higher power. The temple is awe-inspiring, perfect for photographers, but it is also incredibly romantic.

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Costanera Center Observation Deck (Las Condes)

A jarring addition to the Santiago skyline, this behemoth skyscraper reaches upward with phallic splendor, providing the most impressive views of the city and leaving the mighty Cerro San Cristobal hill far below. It isn´t cheap to ride up but it takes just two minutes and the vista is worth it, particularly during sunset.

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General Cemetery (Recoleta)

This is the oldest cemetery in Chile and one of the biggest in South America, this is a colossal place to lose yourself amongst the tombs of history.  The skeletons contained would fit into 117 football fields and date back 11 generations. Come here to walk or bike, and lost yourself in silence.

DAY TRIPS

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Salinas Salt Flats and Reserve

Just outside of Cahuil, near to Bucalemu and Pichelemu, are the salt flats of Salinas. This beautiful setting makes for a pleasant walk, particularly for the bird watchers among you, and can be enjoyed by families. Best combined with the beaches.

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La Campana National Park

You can hike, bike, horseride or casually walk to your hearts content in this biosphere reserve, once traversed by Charles Darwin.  This remarkable park is home to a dazzling array of flora and fauna, including the Giant Hummingbird and the majestic Chilean Palm, which is sadly endangered.

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Photo: Trish Shaw

Embalse el Yeso (Cajon del Maipo)

The Maipo Canyon is like a detox for the soul – particularly after the city.  One of the best ways to escape it all is to detour to the Embalse el Yeso, a huge reservoir that supplies water to Santiago.  The drive is scenic and you would be hard pressed to find a better spot to experience the mountains.

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Casas del Bosque (Casablanca Valley)

This winery has been named the best Chilean Wine Producer at the International Wine & Spirits Competition in London for the last two years, and it´s restaurant, Tanino, has been named as one of the best twenty winery restaurants. Aside from the wine (click the link for more information), the winery makes for a lovely day out, perhaps for hiking or bike riding.

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Valparaiso

The hills are perfect for walkers, art lovers, amateur photographers or those seeking a bit of culture, while the flat city and the port are for those looking to immerse themselves in history. For centuries, Valpo was the most happening place in Chile, port of entry and departure, and throughout the course of time has been plagued by pirates, been a center for the South American slave trade and attracted innumerable artists – all of which have left their mark upon this incredible UNESCO heritage spot.

 

Where are your favorite spots? Share them in the comments so I can check them out!

Cover Photo: Trish Shaw

Fantastic Food, Fabulous Ferias!

Santiago is the heart of this nation – all foods end up here – and nowhere is this more obvious than the ubiquitous feria, or market.

The feria is my favorite thing to do here in Chile because there is no other place where you can delve right into the culture and discover what it really means  to be a local. They are a lifeforce for the people in the suburbs who use them everyday (except Monday) to stock up on  almost everything they might need, from fruit and vegetables to medicine, fresh fish or clothing. Stallholders begin in the wee hours, receiving deliveries and then setting up their spot for the day, of which aesthetics are key. Effort is put in to ensure their produce looks fresh and better than the neighbor’s offering, with everything from fake grass, realms of hanging garlic to delicious preparations of ceviche (seafood marinated in lemon juice) or pebre (a spicy tomato salsa mix) made to show off their ingredients to the max.

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NZD$20 (not including packaged items)

Food plays a key part in Chilean life. The indigenous of both northern and central Chile had a diet rich in potatoes, quinoa and meat from sources such as pudues, alpacas and llamas, well before the arrival of the Conquistadores. The Spanish then brought with them domestic livestock and ingredients that today make up traditional comida chilena, the very best of which is known as comida casera (homemade food).  Many of the dishes are simply prepared, which reflects Chile’s peasant past.  Dishes include the cilantro-heavy cazuela stew or lentejas (lentils),  while the hugely popular Corn Pie (Pastel de Choclo) mixes both meat and chicken. Beans (porotos) are so frequently consumed and traditional that there is a saying – “mas chileno que los porotos!”

Chile is also blessed to have the Humboldt Current drifting past it’s Pacific Ocean coastline, which brings a huge variety of sea dwelling creatures up from Antarctica. All year round you can enjoy seafood in delicious dishes, my favorites of which are Chupe de Jaivas and crab/prawn empanadas.  You know it must be good if it has been immortalized in poetry, which Nobel Prize winning poet Pablo Neruda actually did in his Caldillo de Congrio (Kingclip Chowder) poem.

I also find the feria to be a place where you can see real artisans at work, from the man who quickly wraps up the carton of eggs to the elderly gentlemen who will rapidly explain the medicinal or culinary uses of strange ingredients. Remember to shop around for the best prices (cheapest in the centre), watch your belongings, take small change (no big notes!) and use a portable shopper to cart your purchases (not just for nanas!).  Finally, stallholders will give you about a million small plastic bags for your purchases so it can be a good idea to take along a reusable bag or simply place things directly in your trolley – and therefore baffling them all!

Ask the locals where the day’s feria is when you are in the suburbs – they will likely be able to tell you! For a unique Santiago experience head to the bustling La Vega market in Recoleta wbere you can try comida chilena in La Vega Chica, or go for huge portions in the Tirso Molina.

Lunch Review: Quinoa Vegetarian Restaurant

You know it’s summer in Santiago when long lunches give way to even longer asados (barbeques).  Just like neighboring Argentina, Chile hasreputation as a haven for carnivores, so discovering Quinoa in trendy Vitacura was a relative shock.

It is a vegetarian restaurant.

It is also spacious, light, airy – all those things you long for when the days are hot and you require food that fills your belly but does not tip you over afterwards. It also embraces the theme of being a produce lover with pots of herbs on windowsills, fresh flowers on tables and a menu that shouts refinement and simplicity – in other words, the veges really shine here.

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We ordered a beetroot lasagne and the Mezze salad main. Both were delicious and around $7000 each.  Bread and dip were given at the start of the meal (love all the complimentary bread Chilean restaurants dole out!), and we both had natural juices (there’s quite a few juice options including detox).

Everything was excellent: the food, the staff, the decor … but the reason why we will return is actually for none of those. We will go back for the mindblowingly fantastic dessert, which was a chocoholic’s heaven so delicious that Luis, Emilio and I nearly hyperventilated eating.

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The Nitty Gritty

Make a booking as it is always busy

Not much parking

Yes quinoa does feature prominently

Closed Sundays

Address: Luis Pasteur 5393, Vitacura

Visit the website for the menu here.

For more dining options, please visit here, here, here or here.

Lunch Review: I-Ching Chinese Restaurant

As you may have gathered from my frequent blogs about food, I’m a bit of fiend when it comes to eating out, especially when it’s something exotic and flavourful like Indian cuisine. But there is an area where Luis and I are equally clueless and that’s – Chinese cooking. We have both only ever eaten a Chinese takeaway, usually accompanied by chips and a soggy wantan.  Here in Santiago, the Chinese restaurant was one of the first “exotic” foods to really take off, brought here by some of the many first-generation families from Asia of which Recoleta, in particular, has many. To Luis’ friends and family, a meal from one of these elaborately decorated establishments is the pinnacle of exoticism and worthy of a special occasion, despite bearing almost no resemblance to what is actually eaten across China and Asia. Since being in Chile I have been lucky enough to meet from all walks of life, including from Taiwan, a country I honestly know nothing about except for the fact that it’s the birthplace of my friend, Amy (who you may remember from Pasteleria Lalaleelu).  Amy really knows her food and she speaks Chinese, so who better than to initiate Luis and I into the wonders of Chinese food?

Last weekend we headed in a group to I-Ching, a huge second-storey restaurant that Luis and I have driven past a hundred times as it’s near our house. The place is BIG and almost forbiddingly so, with a water feature and an army of staff who direct you upon entering. This is important: Chinese patrons are always directed to the right which is characterized by large circular tables, while everyone else is directed to the left, which has smaller rectangular tables and Spanish-speaking staff. On the left you will find the usual recognizable menu (it’s massive) including all the usual dishes such as chop suey, spring rolls and even sushi. But it’s on the right-hand side where you must request to be seated, and it was a promising sign that when we entered this entire space was filled with Chinese diners. In this area there are three menus. There is a dim sum menu, featuring small dishes that are most commonly eaten in Hong Kong, there is the original menu (Chinese and Spanish with pictures) and there is a newer, smaller menu that has been on offer since August (Chinese only, pictures).  Given that patrons occupying this side are Chinese-speaking, the serving staff speak Chinese and very little Spanish so expect to point to what you want!

We left it to Amy to order for the table, and many of the dishes that we tried were seasonal and not on the menu, because like many cuisines, Chinese food is regional and based around seasonal ingredients.  Tea (free) was poured for each guest and frequently refilled; hot tea is what is usually drunk with a meal because it cuts through the oil in the food.  Dishes were brought rapidly from the kitchen and placed in quick succession on the rotating raised plate in the middle of our table, the idea being that food is shared between all.

And the food?

YUM!  It’s always a good sign when the chef is actually from China and that the place is packed with people who know the food.

“From my point of view, I-Ching changed their flavour after the chef came back from vacation in August, it was my favorite chinese restaurant, but since then they have changed some of the chinese chefs.  They have to improve to reach the standard they used to be,” Amy tell us.  Her other favorite Chinese restaurant is called Sheng Xing, which is a bit cheaper than I-Ching, and is located downtown.

“Both restaurants are good for certain dishes, they sometimes have similar plates for example duck, but the one in Av. España does a better job, while I-Ching does better fish.  There are other Chinese restaurants with different styles, but I-Ching and Sheng Xing are the styles that I personally like more.”

The restaurant has some other bonus points. It’s pretty loud and spacious inside so children can make noise without really being heard, plus there’s an indoor play area to rival all others (suitable from age 3+). Car parking is free for the restaurant.

Overall, highly recommended!!!

For four, Amy recommends ordering a stirfry noodle or rice, a vegetable, a meat plate and several dim sums. Expect to pay between $10,000-$15,000 per person depending on what you order. 

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Duck
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Mindblowingly delicious fish
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Seasonal Chinese vegetable similar to spinach – name unknown in English!
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Pork 3 ways (requested dish, normally sold separately)
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Tofu

I-Ching address: Av. Independencia 1928, Independencia (closest metro is Einstein, 2.9km)

Sheng Xing address: Av. Espana 101-107, Santiago Centro (metro Union Latinoamericana)

Spotlight On Sujitra & South Indian Flavors

Do you want delicious homecooked food that is also healthy? Do you also want to support a fellow English Speaking Mum? Or maybe you are looking for authentic Indian cuisine with ingredients brought all the way from the land of Ganesh?  

The search is over – it’s time to introduce to you South Indian Flavours!

I was lucky enough to try a meal a wee while ago and in all honesty, it was so good that I just have to blog about it! Sujithra hails from Kumbakonam (Tamil Nadu state), has lived in Chile for four years and has two children.  She began this venture in order to bring the people of Santiago a taste of real Indian cooking (which we all know has been a bit lacking here!).

Sujithra brings ingredients, such as lentils and spices, to Chile and prepares her food in the exact same way she would at home. She soaks, grinds in a special grinder and ferments her dishes in order to capture the elusivity of Indian cooking that all of us miss when we leave a visit to her country. The process is so elaborate that it takes Sujithra extensive planning – particularly the fermentation – as the temperature of the weather directly affects the result.  She is also particularly health conscious and prefers not to use oil or artifical colours in her cooking.  The Masala Dosa, for example, is a delicious and filling tortilla-type food that Sujithra prepares by soaking lentils and rice overnight before allowing the paste to ferment naturally for 8 hours.  This allows for the resulting batter to be filled with nutrients and the combination of rice with lentils allows for easier digestion in the body (which is a huge component of Ayurvedic thought). In fact, when you eat one of the meals, the order in which you eat it is highly important to ensure the full benefit of the nutrients are absorbed and then digested easily.

I think what I appreciate the most about Sujithra’s venture is that this is food from Southern India. Few people are aware of the difference in cooking across India, given that most of the Indian restaurants outside of India have a Punjabi influence and serve up the same sauce/meat/rice/naan combination. For the newbies, here are a few facts:

  • South Indian food generally uses more rice-based items as opposed to wheat because rice flourishes in the tropical and semi-tropical south.
  • Due to this rice content, food tends to absorb sauces so dishes have generally less thick sauce
  • Dishes made from rice and lentils include idlis, dosas, and uttapams.
  • Coconut is often added, for example to make chutney, and is a revered staple.
  • Dishes contain more seafood
  • Spices are generally roasted and freshly ground before cooking. They tend not to use the masala mix so many of us know, which is often prepared in advance.
  • Dishes tend to be more spicy than northern staples!
  • South India is a mixture of mountains and hilly slopes, tropical beaches and calm backwaters. This region is well known for growing spices, particularly cloves, black pepper, and cardamom.
  • Staples include: Sambhar (lentil-based vegetable stew), lemon rice, gulab jamoon (milk-based dessert), dosa (fermented crepes), idli (steamed black lentil/rice cake)

Questions with Sujithra:

  1. Favourite Indian restaurant in Santiago: Saffron in Vitacura
  2. Favourite thing to do in Santiago: Visit the Cajon del Maipo
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Baji: onion, potato, raw banana mixed with garbanzo bean flour
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Ladoo: garbanzo flour fried and then covered in caramel
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Idiyapam: made with rice flour and vegetables served with coconut and Indian spice sauce
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Masala Dosa
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Gulab jamoons
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Vegetable Biriyani
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Mini Sambar Idlis
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Chicken Biriyani

You can order the weekly menu via the South Indian Flavours Facebook page. The menu changes each week but Sujithra can also made to order. The process starts a few days ahead of the weekend (it’s long!) and orders can be picked up from Sujithra’s place in Las Condes. Individual dishes and combination plates as well as South Indian sweets can be ordered.

To Place Orders:

Contact: +569 75778519

Or order via Facebook page here

Pickup by advance rder only at Alcantara 1128, Las Condes (Metro Colon)

Pardeshi Tadka: Indian Food in Santiago

I have found it!!!!!!

There’s REAL Indian food in Santiago!

Visit Pardeshi Tadka on Avenida Holanda 067 inside the little Galeria. The 0 in the address is actually super important (learnt this the hard way!) because it means it’s on the other side of Av. Providencia, closer to Costanera Centre.

Pardeshi is not five star dining.  It’s quick, cheap food served on a few tables inside a small shopping arcade – BUT if you know your Indian food and are searching for something that is authentic to what they really cook in India, then you won’t be disappointed.

There aren’t many tables and they were all full when we visited yesterday lunchtime, but we were quickly accomodated. I ordered the vegetarian lunch which came with rice, salad, drink and parathas, for 4.400 pesos. The moment it was placed in front of me my eyes watered. I could actually see the cumin seeds on the potatoes, the color was fantastic and the smell alone transported me back to my stay in India in 2009. Each bite brought back memories: on the train hurtling through the countryside, squished amongst hundreds of others eating street food in the outskirts of Mumbai, eating on the floor in rural Gujarat with family while listening to Bollywood songs. It was absolutely delicious – and cooked without a trace of packaged sauce. Luis ate a chicken dish in a red sauce that had a bit of heat; meat mains I think are around 5.400 pesos. It was so good even Emilio gobbled his up!

Service was excellent. The chef came out to speak with us and the waiter was very friendly, efficient and even spoke English when he heard me talking. There was none of this “bad customer service” that you resignedly come to expect in Santiago – quite the opposite. We even received chai tea which came in little styrofoam cups exactly the same as in India! I love chai and haven’t been able to replicate the flavour since, and so a sip of this brought out a few tears. Maybe all this sounds like an extreme reaction – I’m not Indian after all – but I spent half a year in that beautiful country and it seems like a world ago, especially now that my life has since changed so much . Nothing prepares you for a visit to India, but nothing prepares you for when you leave either. Your never quite the same once you’ve experienced having all five senses truly working. There is just no comparison with culture shock – Chile is so tame in comparison!!

This is not a sponsored post, either. I’m raving because I’m genuinely impressed. This is a must-visit for foodies!

Photos: Pardeshi Tadka

17 Tips to Eat Out Happy

  1. Arrive at opening time for a quieter experience.
  2. Restaurants are generally open for lunch (closing around 4pm) and dinner (7pm until late)
  3. If you need to split the bill, ask before you order. Same goes if you have a voucher – speak first or forever hold the peace!
  4. Expect a long wait between dessert and waiter
  5. Do not expect your dirty plates to be cleared until the next course arrives
  6. Tip: ask for the bill when you order to speed things up
  7. The tip (propina) is often included so check before you pay if this is a problem
  8. Waiters usually get paid minimum wage and DO rely on tips.
  9. If you are learning Spanish expect to be BOGGLED by the menu!!
  10. Peruvian restaurants are usually accompanied by loud music
  11. You can find sushi everywhere (pronounched “suchi”
  12. Expect complimentary bread and pebre when you arrive
  13. Ask for the colacion or lunch menu. It’s incredibly economical and usually yum!
  14. Ask for “un vaso de agua” or “agua de la llave” for tapwater to save on the bill – drinks are usually expensive
  15. Try a delicious natural juice because nearly all places offer them.
  16. There are certain unspoken etiquette rules. Cutlery is always used, people rarely ask for doggy bags and sometimes people look at you funny if you ask to try something of theirs.
  17. For a Chilean experience order a pisco sour (or is it Peruvian? haha)

Dining Recommendations

  • For date night: Zully in Barrio Concha y Toro. In a word – amazing.
  • For a family lunch: Mestizo in Parque Bicentennerio or Restaurante El Secreto in the artesenal shopping place of the same name, in Lo Barnechea.
  • For tourists: Peumayen indiginous fusion food in Bellavista
  • For indulgence: Astrid y Gaston (metro Pedro de Valdivia)
  • For dinner with mates: delicious pizza at Tiramisu on Isidora Goyenchea (metro El Golf)
  • For buffet: Mar de Vina (Providencia)
  • For a budget meal: order a curry at New Horizons (metro Bellas Artes)
  • Cafe: Cafe Bolonia down Av. Italia (metro Irarrazaval)
  • Bakery: Pasteleria Lala Leelu (metro Santa Isabel). Try the Devil’s Cake – best in Santiago!
  • For icecream: Cafe Manzana in Barrio Lastarria
  • A BBQ or asado with Chilenos for great company!

 

Ultimate Food Destinations:

  • Pucon in the Los Lagos region. Every cafe and restaurant has food that is to die for, using ingredients such as trout and deer from the region itself.
  • Angelmo in Puerto Montt for seafood
  • Roadside stalls between Santiago and La Serena for delicious cheese, dried meat, nuts, olives and more
  • The Elqui Valley for local food with a view (plus pisco)
  • Arica’s Azapa Valley for olives and other local foods that flourish in the climate
  • Regions 5 and 6 for wineries
  • Any market to gape at the cheap produce. For easy Santiago options check out La Vega then enjoy lunch in the Tirsa Molina

Eat:

  • Pastel de Jaiba – if you are in Chile you must enjoy the delicious seafood so why not try a crab pie?
  • Curanto – a huge steaming pile of seafood, vegetables and meat endemic to the island of Chiloe.
  • Sopaipillas from roadside stalls – after a long hunt I can confirm that the best can be found from a mother/daughter duo close to metro Irarrazaval.
  • Kuchen cake brought to Chile by German settlers, best eaten in the south of Chile or, closer to Santiago, the Cajon del Maipo.
  • Pebre – this spicy salsa is my favorite thing in Chile! Beware the supermarket bought sauce many people use to speed up the process.
  • Jugo de Frutilla – natural juice made from Chile’s abundance of strawberries
  • Mote con Huesillo – both thirst-quenching and thirst-inducing, this drink/food is best enjoyed from the top of Cerro San Cristobal
  • Pastel de Choclo is a pie made from corn, chicken and meat and is universally adored by all Chileans
  • Merken is a spice mix originally used by the Mapuche
  • Ceviche seafood (or meat) cooked in lemon juice. Delicious
  • Longaniza sausage
  • Empanadas – pastries either fried or cooked in the oven. Best are prawn and cheese.
  • Pan de pascua – just like Christmas pudding

 

Responsible Companies Keeping It Local

“The second reason for the failure of industrial agriculture is its wastefulness. In natural or biological systems, waste does not occur … the living arc within the cycle remains within the cycle … there is really no such thing, then, as natural production; in nature, there is only reproduction”

– Wendell Berry (1978)

For a beautiful country, Chile is swimming in waste.  I’m sorry to start off on such a negative note, particularly when there is no debating the incredible natural beauty of this diverse land. Howver, there is no denying that off-road adventures become an adventure in binbag avoiding, sleepy hamlets are spoilt by roadside garbage, and Santiago is up to its eyeballs in dog poop, litter and disgarded beer bottles. This waste extends beyond the obvious. Much of Santiago was constructed by the locals themselves (a process known as autoconstruccion) including the fragile drainage systems.  An inch of rain is likely to create a lake while the heat of summer stirs up an odour of soggy carpets and doghair.  Yards are filled to the brim with broken toys and furniture left out to rot and rust beneath the elements, while the youth grow up oblivious to the concept of recyling. A trip to the market equals a mountain of small yellow bags while a simple trip to supermarket or local almacen means you will probably return with double the weight of purchases just in plastic. Everything is in cartons. Declining a plastic bag equals disbelief and even outrage – “you must have a bag or your food will get dirty!” The world of industrial food production has its claws well and truly in the daily lives of modern Chile.

It’s not all doom and gloom, though.  Wonderful initiatives such as Algramo are making their mark, particularly when they offer the basics in a way that is accesible to all. Algramo started off as a small idea that has now grown into local stores across Santiago  – in Recoleta too – and removes the third party from the buying process. People fill up exactly how much they can afford into reusuable containers, which means that they do not have to cover packaging costs and are buying direct from producers.

Meanwhile, organic and sustainable food suppliers are growing in popularity.  Agricola Tinajacura is a family-run project that offers free-range animals without chemicals, additives or hormones, including meat and wool. They have recently expanded to include (happy) chickens and deliver in Santiago. I love projects like this because it goes back to what farming originally was, and should have remained. A look at their Facebook page doesn’t show a farm working as a factory offering up natural resources as endless units of production.  Instead, Tinajacura shows us smiling men and women getting their hands dirty and gives us working pictures of the farm. We can see the whole process, from egg to outside chicken coup, from shearing to transportation – images that are organic and raw.

Another venture worth getting excited about is being undertaken by fellow kiwi expat, Matt Saywell. Loncotoro Farm is located on the outskirts of Puerto Varas on the banks of Lake Llanquihue, an area famed for its natural beauty. Their vision is about as far away from that of industrial agriculture as you can get: it reads “inspire, connect, embrace, preserve and share.”  Matt and his backers are motivated to keep the essence of northern Patagonia intact, planting and maintaining reserves whilst working the land in a sustainable manner. They are working alongside rather than removing nature, and the dedication shown by Matt is incredibly motivating.  Follow their blog on Facebook to keep up with their adventures, particularly to see what it is like working in an area that interacts and competes with the two big name giants active in Chile, Fonterra and Nestle.  The initiative is looking for investors and plots of land (in paradise, I might add) are selling now.

If you are interested in the food industry in Chile, then you may like to have a look at my two earlier blogs.  The Milk Chain which is about the milk industry in Chile and Food and Identity in Santiago – both are  anthropological essays writn for Massey University in New Zealand.  While you are it take a look at the links I posted above and share below any other sustainable companies that deserve a mention. Finally, try get your hands on the work of Wendell Berry, an American scholar whose best essays can be found in the incredible “The Gift of Good Land.

(Photos courtesy of Agricola Tinajacura)