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.  

10 March 2015

Due to the great migration made by the northerners to visit their south inhabiting brethren, we decided to partake in a particularly adventurous adventure.  Pablo and I saddled up our red rocket and drove the 833km/ 517.6mi to Santiago to pick up my sister and her pololo from the airport so that the four of us could spend a long weekend sampling the splendors of Chile's famous Colchagua Valley.

Our rendezvous went according to plan minus missing an almost terrific automobile accident just five minutes into our departure from the airport.  But, we escaped the gran metropolitan unscathed and made our way south along the 5 towards Santa Cruz.  The end of summer in these parts is hot and dry.  We took advantage of these environmental conditions to purchase a glorious hand-made sunhat and to pose with numerous outstanding cacti.  As we approached our destination we noticed the rows and rows of organized cultivation.  We could see the grapes ready to be plucked from vines, waiting to be squashed and fermented into something truly intoxicating.

08 March 2015

I have not disappeared!  

Its been awhile since I've been around these parts, virtually speaking, but I'm still alive and well despite the uphill climb that is life.  Pablo and I have been busy working, adventuring, road tripping, drinking lots of wine in some of Chile's famous vineyards, walking cats on leashes, and making pies.  so. many. pies.  I hope to relay more stories of all of that in the near future.  Hope all is well in your neck of the woods.

16 February 2015

So... we had a slightly ridiculous weekend.

Friday night we got wild and went out with some friends for beers and sandwiches.  Good conversation and laughs about expat life in Chile had us leaving the bar well past my bedtime.  Around midnight we strapped our helmets back onto our heads and zoomed out into the night, cycling with the stars overhead and the chilly breeze on our faces.  Arriving home exhausted and tipsy we went straight to bed.  

Little did we know that some other friends had called us during the evening.  When Pablo finally checked his phone and returned the call Saturday morning, mid-grocery shopping, we were soon presented with an offer that we just couldn't turn down.  They said, "In ten minutes we're leaving for the lake, do you want to go?"  Rather than asking for details we just said yes and high-tailed it out of the store, back home, rapidly fed the chickens, and threw some clothes and swim suits into a bag.

We had a wonderful time.  We water skied, and kayaked, swam in cold (!) water, and danced to weird music until 3am.  Here you can see a glimpse of the weekend.  In our rushed departure I forgot my camera!  The photos here are the few we took with Pablo's phone.

roadtrip!  volcanoes in the distance!

oh ya know, just another cowboy on the side of the highway