Deciding and booking only two weeks in advance for a 10 day trip to Chile and Easter Island is not how I usually plan a vacation. However, if the opportunity is there might as well take it (thanks to my neighbor for the opportunity)!
The first stop of the trip was Santiago, spending 2 days wandering around and taking in as much of Santiago by foot as we could before heading off to Easter Island for 4 days. On our return from Easter Island we took a night bus to the coastal and world heritage site, Valparaiso. We spent a day climbing the hills and riding the pull lifts. From here we took a bus south to the San Antonio valley to enjoy some Chilean wines.
The fist afternoon of Santiago was probably the best food day there, beautiful ceviche and beef and cheese empendadas!
These were actually more Peruvian influenced than original to Chile, which is what I found a lot in the first days of Chile. It took quite a bit of effort to find something typically Chilean. We ate our way through quite a few Peruvian inspired dishes, only after consulting with a local did we have any idea of what to look for. Like this humita which is typically Chilean and rather tasty even if the picture doesn’t do it justice. It is basically an unfilled tamale.
While in Santiago I was introduced to the famous Pisco Sour! Oh My, are these good! Pisco is a brandy, matured in either copper, steel, glass, or wooden vats. To make a Pisco Sour, like many sours, is really quite simple. Add lime juice, simple syrup and ice, don’t forget the Pisco, to a cocktail shaker and shake well. Strain into a champagne glass and you have the typical Chilean Pisco. If you want to mix things up a bit and make a Peruvian Pisco Sour you still need Pisco, lime juice, simple syrup, and ice but now you add an egg white to the shaker and shake away. You get a nice froth to the top of the Pisco Sour, add a few drops of Angustine bitters to the top and it’s ready to drink! Pisco Sours quickly became a favorite drink during the drip.
One final tip for Santiago, (and yes go to the big market, wander around all the interesting and beautiful food, smell the delicious soups, and find somewhere to sit down for some lovely seafood) whatever you do, do not order the cocktail de mariscos. While I think this is a joke on the tourists it was truly on the menu and, in the spirit of adventure, a fish cocktail sounded intriguing. It is a cocktail… of salty water and some unidentifiable fish bits. Yes, it tastes as bad as it looks, the camera didn’t even like the cocktail.
So incredibly beautiful, Easter Island is one of the most remote inhabited islands of the world. It is a volcanic island with three dormant volcanos. Spending 4 days here was amazing. The only way to get around easily is by car. I saw some tours advertising bike transportation but, after driving around for a while with a car, I was very happy not to have done this with a bike. Easter Island is a surfer’s paradise, apparent to me by the large number of surfers riding the waves each day. I didn’t try this one myself but did enjoy a dip in the Pacific ocean on the one little beach of Easter Island.
Easter Island is most famous for the Moai, the stone statues. Since Easter Island is considered part of Chile it is no wonder that there are quite a few food and drink influences. Remember those Pisco Sours? I certainly do.
San Antonio Valley
Ending the trip we headed a bit south to the San Antonio Valley. Chile is very well known for their wines, but San Antonio Valley is relatively young with its wine production. Being a bit cooler and closer to the sea these vineyards are faced with more freezing and molding problems that other well known Chilean wine areas. Despite the extra challenges, the wine from this area is delicious. The first wine tour and tasting at Matetic vineyards focused greatly on the biodynamic methods in their wine production. Biodynamic methods are quite interesting, not only do they adhere to organic farming standard but they also incorporate nature and cosmos and holistic farming, like adhering to moon patterns to dictate the planting and harvesting of the grapes. Matetic was a bit of an expensive tourist trap. Beautiful grounds and delicious wine but I felt very out of place as we came by bus and cab and, while never mentioned on their site, from the reception it was still a 40 km drive out to the tasting room and cellars and it was expected that you came by car, oops. Lucky for us the tour for the hotel was not happening yet so their driver was kind enough to act as a guide and take us the extra distance. Since we had not planned ahead we did not have reservations at their restaurant, meaning we picnicked at their wine bodega with meats and cheese and wine bought from their store.
A day before arriving in the San Antonio Valley we booked our accommodation at the Casa Marin Villa. This was the best way to end my Chilean trip. Casa Marin is a boutique winery. Not only were the views and villa beautiful, but the wine was absolutely delicious. The owners, both mother and son are wine makers, have created their own signature Pinot Noir wines, hers is deep, with mushroom and earthy flavors while his is fruitier and a bit more acidic. Both fantastic!
Located just outside of a very small little town Lo Abarca, we ordered our food at the nearby rib house and it was brought up to the villa by the farmhand. The whole staff was incredibly gracious and welcoming.
I don’t know if I will ever be able to outdo the experience of Casa Marin, the kind and down to earth employees, beautiful grounds, and wonderful wine. Not to mention the home made Chilean dinner prepared by sweetest cook.
Here is our desert, apricots being the theme with a pana crook type desert accompanies by an apricot mousse and a very sweet apricot liquid with pearl barley.