Through Santiago, Chile’s lush central valleys, and north into the rustic Valle de Elqui, Kendall Hill, a writer with the Australian magazine Gourmet Traveller, found herself on a whirlwind culinary tour of Chile.
Introducing her experiences by way of a poignant Chilenismo (Chilean slang term), Hill writes:
“Pochito (po-chee-to) describes that happy-drowsy state of body and mind after a satisfying feast. In Chile, there are many pochito moments.”
From a warming image of pochito, Hill draws the reader into the vibrant culinary world she experiences during the week she spends in Chile.
She begins her visit in Santiago at three stellar eateries, Boragó, a high-concept joint that boasts ‘endemic’ or hyper-local cuisine, Sukalde, that scours for new and different ingredients, and Costa Brava, a traditional homey Chilean affair.
Costa Brava on Alameda near Universidad Catolica delights Hill with a bountiful sandwich menu and schop, or beer on tap. She describes it as, “A place where traditions outweigh trends, and the focus is firmly on the satisfaction of humble food.”
While ‘picadas’ like Costa Brava are Chilean through and through, Hill highlights how vanguard Chilean chefs like those at Boragó and Sukalde are on the track to discovering a new kind of national cuisine.
“In traditional Chilean food, we don’t even use 10 percent of the products we have,” chef Matías Palomo Reyes at Sukalde told Gourmet Traveller. “We are trying to show the people what we have and make them feel proud of it. We have some of the best products in the world.”
Chef and founder at Boragó, Rodolfo Guzmám, also trumpeted the use of one-of-a-kind ingredients.
“We want to get endemic things, wild things, that you can only find in Chile,” he told Gourmet Traveller. With this concept at heart, Boragó’s cooking staff go out into the wilderness twice a week and forage for the things that will later be served in their dining room.
Before leaving central Chile for northern pastures in Valle de Elqui, Hill visited the winery Matetic near Valle Casablanca. Bio-dynamic, organic, and based on feng-shui, Matetic boasts the final distinction of only using female grape pickers whom are said to be more delicate with the grapes.
“The proof, ultimately, is in the drinking and the wines we sample are extraordinary,” Hill wrote.
Finally Hill dips deep into pisco country where she discovers Chile’s Valle de Elqui and some of the country’s most potent piscos. After two inventive cocktails at restaurant Hacienda Miraflores in the ravine with sweeping views of vineyards, gorges, mountains, and fearless blue sky, Hill writes:
“I’m feeling pochito again, but that could just be the pisco taking effect. Or perhaps it’s the special energy of the Elqui Valley. I can’t claim any transcendental moments here, but it is definitely some of the most beautiful countryside I’ve had the pleasure of visiting.”
Click here to read Hill’s full account in Gourmet Traveller and more information about the places she visited.