16 April 2015

A random little post for the middle of your week...

Best recipe book that I've found so far: The Hoosier Mama Book of Pie
This book is the pie Bible.  One of my very good friends gifted me this book and I thank her every week when I am inspired to tackled ever more challenging pies.  Seriously, I have pie fever.  I am obsessed with making pies.  This week its quiche, last week was pumpkin, before that I made not one but three (!!) apple pies... one for us, and one as an apology to both of our neighbors that have had to endure visits from a very naughty cat... more on that to come....

13 April 2015

The final vineyard that we visited was Laura Hartwig.  This little gem might not produce the world class wines found at Montes or Lapostolle, but the Hartwig winery has a charm all its own.  We sat out on the porch as if we were at our grandparents'  house and tried several different varieties of wine.    We and several other guests chatted and enjoyed the warm evening overlooking the vineyards.  The house staff was very friendly and personal and we even caught a glimpse of Laura, herself.  Laura and her husband, both eighty year olds, took an evening stroll around their property as we looked on in admiration.

As the evening wore on, we decided that we were hungry so we ask if it would be alright if we walked across the vineyards to a neighboring restaurant.  The winery kindly obliged so we set off in the direction of the setting sun and might have sampled a few fruits along the way...

12 April 2015

Well, it is taking me more than a month to recount the glorious adventures that Pablo and I had with Molly and Aleks, but I'm not finished yet!  I hope you can appreciate slow story telling.

Besides visiting the Montes vineyard in Santa Cruz, we also took a tour and did a tasting at Lapostolle, the french owned winery known for its tasty blends.  While our guide was not nearly as informative as the lovely lady that showed us around Montes, the tours of the fermentation and barrel rooms as well as the tasting in the subterranean cellar were pretty outstanding.

While savoring sips of Clos Apalta, we looked down into the underground wine library imagining what vintages might be found among the thousands of bottles stored there.  Perhaps it is the secrecy and mystique of cellars containing who-knows-what and the dark moist air of storage rooms that smell of spicy yeast and grapes that give wine half of its allure.  I don't know, but Lapostolle definitly creates a mysterious environment that leaves guests wanting more.

29 March 2015

We have come to find that there is a reason that Chile is not known for its cuisine.  While they might do some creative things with seafood or serve up a damn fine pisco sour, we have found most local dishes to be lackluster or in worse cases, just bad.  In general, there seems to be a laissez faire approach to creating food here.  

We did, however, find some gems of restaurants in Santa Cruz.  Our first night out, after touring Montes, we headed to Vino Bello.  We were all feeling pretty high and hungry after our first vineyard visit so without shame, we did the gringo thing and went to dinner at 6pm.  We arrived at Vino Bello right as they were opening for the evening shift as Chileans are more apt to eat much later.  It was wonderful, though, we had the whole place to our selves including the spectacular view of the nearby vineyards.  We eased our way through an aperitif, a delicious starter salad full of fresh greens, and then we moved on to flavorful pastas and pizza just as the restaurante was starting to fill up.  Besides the view, the food was excellent.  It was prepared with care and fresh ingredients and was not outrageously expensive.  Vino Bello reaffirmed our faith in Chile, it is possible to find good food!

22 March 2015

After our carriage-drawn tour of the vineyard we were shown the production room where millions of grapes are lightly squashed, dropped into enormous vats, fermented and then gravity filtered.  The process is pretty impressive I must say.  Montes definitely puts our backyard bootlegging to shame.  Pablo and I could have continued to ask our knowledgeable tour guide many more questions about the science behind the art of winemaking but we saved our fellow tour mates the boredom and kept our mouths shut.  And while the process of fermentation might be very sciencey, the concept of barreling, aging, and storing wine takes on the romantic properties of secrecy and history.  From the moment the chemical solution is poured into an ages old wooden barrel and placed in its designated spot in a dark cave, humanity transcends technology and time.  The beverage that is one day consumed from the bottled contents of the barrel is not just a mixture of acid, glucose, and alcohol.  It is a tangible memory of the past.  Of the harvest from which it was made, of the land from which grew the grapes, of that summer that you remember was so hot or that year when you visited Chile.  Wine, like fond memories, only gets better with time.

21 March 2015

There is something visually pleasing about humanity's ability to control the earth into giving us what we want. 

 And what could be more power driven than manipulating the land to make sophisticated drinks that when over consumed often lead us to act out of control? I felt almost like I should feel guilty for enjoying the vineyards so much. I know that the rows and rows of grapevines have replaced native forests that housed gazillions of beautiful organisms, but the shear organization of living growing plants is breathtaking. 

 We thoroughly enjoyed Montes. I had never been to a vineyard before so when our taxi rushed us out of town and we pulled up to the estate, I was stunned. Not only were the grounds manicured to the nth degree, they are surrounded by sloping hills covered in forest. But mostly, I couldn't believe how quiet the whole place was. As a winery that can house 2,300,000 liters of wine, I was expecting to see workers hustling about to drive this industrial process. Instead, we felt that we, our wonderful tour guide, and the two other people in our group were the only people there. It was intimately serene.

13 March 2015

We arrived to Santa Cruz around 10am.  Even by vacation standards that seemed a bit early to be tasting multiple glasses of wine.  So, we decided to get the lay of the land and in Chile pretty much no matter where you are, you're a short drive away from both the beach and the mountains.  As neither of which can be found in the great state of Indiana from where hail our visitors, we decided to hit the road in search of some waves.  We drove for about and hour through some cute little towns and passed a few vineyards along the way until we arrived in Bucalemu, a sleepy little beach town just south of some of the more famous Santiago-getaways.  We stuck our toes in the icy cold water while marveling at the children happily swimming.  Then, with our bellies growling, we headed for a restaurant where we had a lunch that we will all probably remember for the rest of our lives.  The visitors got their first taste of some decidedly squishy seafood, Pablo had some less than cooked clams, and I enjoyed a corn and abalone pie.