Santiago Gastronomy Fair

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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.DSC_0249 DSC_0289 DSC_0262

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