Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Entertaining, Chilean Style

I was recently transported, metaphorically speaking, to Chile for an evening of learning about the country’s food and wine. I’d love to really go there someday, and travel along the entire long coastline. That night, I learned about wine making in Chile and how easily a diversity of plants grow in different regions of the country at the class Entertaining, Chilean Style at Central Market Cooking School. The class was taught by Ruth Van Waerebeek, house chef of Concha y Toro and owner of Hostal Gastonomico and Mapuyampay Cooking School in Chile, and I attended with a media pass. As the name of the class implied, all the dishes presented were good choices for parties, and they each hinted at both traditional Chilean cooking styles and influences from afar. For instance, cuisine from both Chile and Argentina has been affected by adopted Chinese and Japanese flavors. Traditional ceviches are combined with Asian ingredients like soy sauce and sesame oil. Influence has also come from France for both cooking and wine making. Rich buttery sauces and custards combined with local, Chilean ingredients are common, and a lot of Chilean vine stock originally came from France. And, of course, the South American enthusiasm for meat is evident in Chilean food where lamb is prevalent.

Our first dish of the class was cucumber rolls with shrimp and salmon ceviche with a spicy Asian-style dipping sauce, and this was paired with Casillero del Diablo Sauvignon Blanc. Van Waerebeek suggested briefly poaching the shrimp if it’s not absolutely, perfectly fresh. For ceviche, she prefers to only marinate the raw fish for 30 minutes, so sushi-quality freshness is key. The sauce here was a spicy mix of soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, chopped red chile, and black and white sesame seeds.

Next, we saw some of that French influence in a baked scallop dish with parmesan butter and sauteed vegetables. In season, local vegetables would be used here, and for this version, carrot and bell pepper were thinly julienned and sauteed until crisp. The vegetables were placed in the bottom of ramekins and were topped with a scallop. Smaller, bay scallops are more common in Chile, and if using those, a few would be placed on top of the vegetables. The scallops were topped with a generous bit of parmesan butter and were then broiled to just cook the scallops almost through. This dish was served with a young, light Casillero del Diablo Chardonnay.

Quinoa is one of those many plants that grows so well in Chile, and the seeds are prized for nutritional content. They were used here for a vegetarian custard. The egg and milk base was blended with pureed fresh corn, cooked quinoa was added, and sauteed, finely diced zucchini, bell pepper, and leeks were added as well. The custard was cooked in individual portions in ramekins, and the airiness of the custard was given heft by the tender pearls of quinoa. This course was served with Casillero del Diablo Carmenere, and we learned that Carmenere is the flagship varietal of Chile. It’s a light enough red wine to pair well with a range of flavors.

The quinoa custard was followed by a lamb chop served with an almond, green olive, and mint salsa. The lamb was marinated in olive oil with rosemary and garlic before being grilled, and the salsa was an easy puree of toasted almonds, green olive, fresh mint, and a little white wine to thin as needed. The wine was a robust Marques de Casa Concha Cabernet Sauvignon, and it was my favorite wine of the evening.

Dessert wasn’t a Chilean dish at all, but rather, it was a Catalonian idea for ending a meal imported from Spain. An aged Manchego cheese was served with pieces of rosemary bread and black cherry preserves, and this was paired with Casillero del Diablo Reserva Privada. Although this idea came from Spain, sheep’s milk cheeses similar to Manchego are common in Chile but are difficult to find outside the country.

Until I get a chance to trek the length of Chile, I can at least daydream about it and enjoy these dishes and wines at home. The seafood, the quinoa, and the wine will be waiting when I finally get there.


20 comments:

  1. Everything looks mouthwatering! they sure know how to entertain.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  2. I've had the good fortune to go to Chile twice, though both trips were short. This is a beautiful sampling. I'm particularly fond of Carmenere.

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  3. Awesome photos! We must talk camera settings- I can never seem to take a decent picture with overhead lighting. Obviously, I need to learn some tips from you. Given how delicious that food looks, I'd like to be transported to Chile as well (if you make that happen, I'd like that tip, too :-)

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  4. Oh Lisa, I live in Brazil for so long but never had a chance to visit Chile :-(
    All the dishes look wonderful, so pretty and nicely presented...yummie!
    Hope you are having a fantastic week and thanks for sharing these delicious dishes :-)

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  5. I can't say I've had cuisine from Chile before, but it sure does look good.

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  6. Another Brazilian who has never been to Chile - or any other SOuth American country, what a shame! It is quite expensive for Brazilians to travel around, so I could never afford a trip, and now... living so far away, it gets even harder.

    Lovely class, Lisa, I wish I could try (and make) the quinoa custard, got me wondering about the texture and taste.

    thanks for the virtual walk through Chilean food!

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  7. That sounds like a fun time. I love how they incorporate so many different cultures into the cuisine and that "dessert" is perfect for me!

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  8. The class sounds wonderful .. I want to make every one of those dishes!! I've had the Concha cabernet and I enjoyed it as well!!

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  9. I have no idea about Chile food, but everything looks so tempting.

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  10. The presentation. So very appealing!! Hungry....

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  11. Lisa what lovely post!!! (Im from Chile) LOL all look amazing and I know Ruth Van Waerebeeck, I knew her because time ago she published recipes to Paula Magazine a cook magazine from here. Her recipes are amazing and exactly, and in my blogs I have some recipes from her,I think the quinoa pudding I post time ago is smilar to this.
    Love this post, gloria

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  12. The pictures are amazing!!! gloria

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  13. Sally: I misplaced my printed recipes from the class, but Gloria knew of this quinoa pudding. Ruth Van Waerebeek had included this recipe in an article in Paula magazine, and Gloria had made it before. Here's a link to the recipe on Gloria's site: http://canelakitchen.blogspot.com/2010/07/quinoa-and-corn-pudding-budin-de-quinoa.html

    Thank you, Gloria!

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  14. Each dish pictured was one I'd love to try. The scallop looks wonderful, Lisa. And what could be better for dessert than the cheese and jam. Love the idea of rosemary bread too...I'm using it more and more in desserts.
    Thanks for the link to Gloria's recipe.

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  15. I have always wanted to go to one of their cooking classes! Based on this post I would say your class was informative and fun-that even motivates me more to attend one of their classes. The pictures here are amazing-wonderful array of food. Thanks for sharing this.

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  16. I just had lunch and can u beleive these photos are making me hungry again! I wish I could have gone to some cooking class too. Love dishes and such gorgeous photos.

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  17. The photos are just gorgeous. I was perusing Tasteologie and my eyes went straight to your photo. Oh the lamb looks so perfect and the salsa paired with it so delicious. That cheese plate looked like a wonderful dessert too. What a fun event to attend.

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  18. What a cool class, I'd love to do something like that!

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  19. This is fantastic! Every single dish is perfect and taste-wise top of the line; I had met several chilean refugees in France in the seventies (I guess they were escaping Pinochet); so much has changed in Chile since I am sure and I would love to visit there for an extended period. Love chilean wines too.

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