This past weekend was the ACHIGA Gastronomy and Food Industry Fair wherein restaurant industry people and others could go and try a variety of food, watch demonstrations and peruse and test restaurant items from furniture to industrial stoves. Marcela and I spent seven hours there on Saturday meeting a heckuva lot of really nice people and snacking on way too many things from Wagyu beef to salmon tartar, ice cream, wine, hard cider, dried fruit, frozen fruit and an excessive amount of Italian coffee. I was surprised by how tasty farm-raised lamb is, having never been a huge meat eater. The people demonstrating different lamb-based recipes at the Buena Carne stand were informative and generous with the food, including lamb kebabs and a lamb stew with homemade oven-baked bread.
The other nice surprise was how delicious Concha y Toro’s upscale wines are. I will drink red wine that costs 2 bucks a bottle, or 200 for that matter, but I’d always thought their wines were only the cheap variety. They do sort of have that reputation in the US, but their higher end stuff is quite good. We tried the 2010 Terrunyo Carmenere, the 2011 Gran Reserva Syrah and the 2012 Marques de Casa Concha Cabernet Sauvignon. I like big reds and if that’s your thing you will appreciate this spicy cab, and even the Syrah is quite full-bodied and fruity. Carmenere is Chile’s signature varietal, so if you’re looking to try something that is classic in this region I’d try the Terrunyo. I’m motivated to check out the vineyard tour they offer in Pirque found in the countryside immediately to the south of Santiago. It’s under an hour by bus to get there.
The other demonstrations included an explanation of different types of cacao plants where they discussed organic chocolate versus super-processed stuff and the variety of chocolates produced in Peru. It really is quite different. Chocolate isn’t my thing, but after having tried the homegrown quality made stuff in Peru I’ve been converted. Properly produced high-quality chocolate with 55% or more cacao is nothing like chocolate bars at the checkout counter. It’s like comparing champagne and gassy water.
I’ve been trying to find chicken that isn’t marinated, but all the grocery stores I’ve been to here sell “marinated” birds, which means they’ve been injected with saline solution to flavor them, plump up their weight and increase their shelf life. Canto del Gallo sells boneless free-range frozen chicken that has no additives, hormones or additional salt added to them. You can order through their website.
Worst thing at the fair? Nestlé foods “desserts”. They had mousse-like things in cups with three flavors, which all tasted like industrial processed nastiness that is likely mostly vegetable oil and sugar with fake flavorings.
Favorite outfit? The woman giving away Hortifrut sporting a raspberry-inspired dress.
Yeah, I lied. Taxes aren’t exciting, but it’s a law and shit. You may be surprised to find out that if you are a US citizen living abroad and working for a foreign company or even self-employed as part of the your 2nd nation’s tax system, you have to report and pay taxes on that income to the United States as well. However, most tax benefits or breaks don’t apply to you. Isn’t that nice? I am no tax professional, as I’d rather drink a glass shard shake, but in keeping with my FYI theme of late, I thought I’d put up a quick note on it. I’ve talked to a lot of US citizens living here that either a) didn’t know that they are supposed to file and pay taxes at home on foreign income, or b) simply do not care. Here is the good news and a thought on why perspective ‘b’ is not the best approach. The US and Chile have a tax agreement [the US has these with some other countries, but far from all] that money a US citizen earns while working in Chile is not taxable up to roughly 85,000 USD per year. I think it was raised a bit higher recently. Essentially, if you make under that amount you will not be taxed twice by two countries, only in Chile where they give you most of it back anyhow. Another thing to consider is that if you spend time in the States each year, that time needs to be prorated and deducted from 85 G limit. Lame, but true. If you’re not too concerned about the law and figure since you don’t owe you can just forget about filing, you could get bit in the ass in the future. If you file and the IRS later on thinks you misreported, the statute of limitations on auditing you is 7 years [last time I checked], but if you file nothing there is no statute and your finances / income could be audited for any year you didn’t file at any time in the future. Not very fun. The last bit of good news is that there is an automatic two month extension for filing if you live abroad, meaning April 15th just became June 15th. Happy tax season. Buy yourself something nice for all your troubles. Or don’t and start another savings account.
Just a quick FYI, the 4th annual Femcine – or Festival Cine de Mujeres (Women) starts today and runs through Sunday in Santiago. I haven’t been yet, but I’m on my way. Let me know if you have any tips! It’s free to get in, too. You can download the PDF of the films and competition here.
Michelle Bachelet just took office this week after an easy election, meaning I’ve been here way longer than I planned. That happens in Chile. I remember her first presidency and I’ve been here through Piñera’s first term. I have met a lot of people here that came for a year, and then stayed for 7, 11 or 17. Strange how this happens. I suppose most of it stems from international romance. The President of the Senate Isabelle Allende (not the writer) happens to be Salvador Allende’s daughter, as well as the first female to hold this post. Aside from what the future holds for these two politicians, it was interesting to watch two women who were both tortured by Pinochet’s regime take the reins of power here after all these years. Very interesting indeed. For more info, read here.