Here's an interesting tidbit; mention Easter Island to someone in the Spanish speaking world and you might get a blank stare. The official Spanish name is Isla de Pascua. I mentioned Easter Island a few times in Santiago and got quizzical looks. Upon returning, I mentioned Easter Island to one of the folks in another department, she is Peruvian (Tusan!), and she had no idea what I was talking about until I said Isla de Pascua! She loves talking to me about Peruvian food and I'm definitely going to get some recommendations from her next time we travel to Peru.
Our The flight out of Hanga Roa didn't leave until 11, so we had some time to take a short drive and refill the fuel, and stuffs like that. While I was taking the trash out I heard the sound of hooves and took a look around the hedges! There was a guy riding a horse down the street....with a pony following! You sure don't see that everyday here in San Diego!
I quietly walked back to the cabanas, when, I was met by a familiar creature....dum, da, dum, dum......
He looked rather irritated and I'd had enough. I let the cat sit in my lap and gave it some attention. When I put the cat down....it got rather angry, but I moved quickly enough and avoided any parting shots.
Having escaped the clutches of the cat, we headed off and did a last short drive around Hanga Roa.
We got the specialty of the house; the eggs and Nescafe. This time I got a polka dot cup.....
We then went to the gas station, filled up and headed back to the cabanas to relax before our trip.
Check-out went smoothly. When Vero, the wonderful woman at Marae - Cabañas went to call us a shuttle, we told her that we'd rather walk. The airport was just a 15 minute walk away.
Check-In and everything else was fine; a bit slow, but again...this is island life....you don't rush things. Once past security, while waiting we watched the excited visitors exit the place. This is where we were just a few days before.
Due to the time change, it was almost 9pm when we got into Santiago. Our flight to Lima left at 8 the next morning so there was no sense in heading into Santiago. There's a very convenient Holiday Inn right across the street from the airport. After grabbing a sandwich in the airport, this is where we settled in. We decided on a nightcap and went to the bar.
The guy working the bar was so nice and friendly that we decided to stay for a second drink. We talked about Santiago and he mentioned how busy the city is. We asked about classic Chilean dishes and he was nice enough to pull photos from Instagram and other sites, describing the various dishes. What a great guy.
He also made a decent Old Fashioned.....
Soon enough, it was time to head back up to our room. We'd try to grab some shut-eye before our flight to Lima in the morning......though I could still see Moai dancing in my dreams!
Out hotel had kindly made reservation for dinner at 8pm. This meant we had some time to kill. We were given directions to our dinner destination and just headed off. First we found our dinner destination, then we decided to explore a bit.
Apparently there's a university nearby as there seemed to be some kind of street market going on and tons of students socializing and having a nice time.
There were also all kinds of knick-knacks and "stuffs" for sale, including some "interesting" items. I used the photo on the right in an earlier post, but thought it interesting enough to post it again.
I'm wondering if the "brownie magico" helped to explain why the sausage place and the waffle shop was so busy?
It was getting close to our reservation time so we headed back. The place I chose for dinner is called Bocanariz....yes, basically, "Mouth - Nose". One of Chile's most well known exports is its wine. In spite of not being oenophiles, I thought it would be a crime not to taste a few. We were lucky enough to be rather close to Bocanariz, which has a list of over 400 Chilean wines. Our nice gentleman who provided directions told me that Wine Spectator had given the "Best Wine List" award to this lovely little wine bar.
The place was almost full when we arrived, good thing I had requested reservations a couple of weeks in advance. We were greeted with smiles and were seated in the bustling bar area.
Our Sommelier was a young lady named "Amanda" who was just amazing. We decided to go with several rounds of "tastings" and Amanda provided information regarding terroir, comparative wines, tasting notes, and some really interesting anecdotes about each wine. We were blown away, both by this young lady's knowledge, but also her efficiency, and fantastic service. She worked all the tables in the bar area and spent a good amount of time with us.
Instead of going into crazy details about everything we had; I'm just going to give you the tasting notes from the menu.
I think the "Wild Wines" were my least favorite as they really lacked depth and character.
The Missus really enjoyed the Garcia-Schwaderer Grenache, which is well regarded. I'd gotten a taste for nice blends and the Tipaume Red Blend had a nice balance.
Both the Missus and I agreed that the Kalfu Sauvignon Blanc was our favorite wine of the evening. It had just enough fruit, acid, and body to make it interesting with the usual musty fragrance in the background. when we mentioned this to Amanda she laughed and said; "yes, it's very low in the usual wet cat pee fragrance in many Sauvignon Blancs." Wet cat pee? That was a new one for me.
Still rather full from lunch we just had bread and a decent cheese plate for dinner. Fairly non-descript, but fine. It did seem some of the portion sizes we saw were quite large and I think we made the right decision to basically go with this strategy.
It was great fun tasting the diversity in wine this way. I'm glad we did this. The 50ml pours were just right; allowing us to try a nice variety.
We finished up with a small pour of the Kalfu Sauvignon Blanc before calling it a night.
There are times when everything seems to fall in place and we receive a memorable experience. Being able to sample a wide range of wine and having someone wonderful like Amanda to guide us definitely made a difference. If we're ever back in Santiago proper, we'll be sure to return here.
Bocanariz José Victorino Lastarria 276 Santiago, Chile
Finishing up, we headed right back to our room. We'd have to wake early, our shuttle to the airport would be picking us up at 5am.
Our flight left Lima at 835am in the morning, and arrived in Santiago Chile at 135pm. would you believe that there's a 2 hour time change between Peru and Chile? Peru is actually in the same time zone as Easter Island, go figure. Since we had so little time in Santiago and really didn't want to deal with transportation glitches, we had our hotel, a wonderful place, named the Lastarria Boutique Hotel arrange for shuttle service. The location of the hotel is wonderful, close to everything, but still a peaceful oasis, with a wonderful, friendly, and accommodating staff. We got to the hotel at around 3; dropped everything off, and headed out. The gentleman at the front desk was very helpful and when we asked about the location of the Mercado Central, he gave us directions. One interesting thing; no less than four people during our stay emphasized how "safe" the area was. Folks seemed generally interested in making sure we knew the area was safe. We followed the sprawling Parque Forestal down to the Mercado. We loved the wonderful green space....it was a beautiful day, families were out and about....
With children of the two and four legged variety having a great time.
There were several museums, monuments, and memorials along the way including the Museum of Contemporary Art and this one, the Iquique Heroes Monument.
Which is right in front of the Mercado Central.
Things seemed so relaxed here; as folks would stop by and chat with the mounted police officers and take time to pet their horses.
In terms of seafood for sale; things were winding down in the market.....the restaurants however, were going strong. Restaurants occupy the entire center of the market.
Hawkers try and tempt you into the restaurants; it seemed so very touristy, like we've seen in cities all over the globe.
We opted to walk the perimeter, until we saw a place full of local families having a great time. Time....well, we had a limited amount of that, so we wanted something simple and local and Marisqueria Yiyi seemed to have it in spades.
The young man working here was an absolute joy...so friendly, kind, gracious, and quite mellow. Looking at the menu we ordered a dish....looking at the next table we also ordered "what he's having!"
Soon enough, some very nice bread made its way to our table, along with the classic Chilean condiment, Pebre, full of tomato, cilantro, and garlic flavors that folks from San Diego would simply call it, well, "salsa". It was nice, but quite mild, which reminded me of an acquaintance who spent time in Chile, and told me; "in spite of the name, there's not very many spicy dishes in Chile."
Sitting right outside the main dining area, we could see the women hard at work in the kitchen.
Meanwhile, the place had started to fill up.
Meanwhile our Ceviche arrived.
The last thing I want to do is to get into any contentious, nationalistic argument. But having had more than my share of Peruvian Cebiche, I found this to be quite surprising. The fish, which looked almost minced reminding me of Japanese bone scrapings were fully "cooked" in citrus. And yet, the marinating liquid seemed quite low in acid. Also, it was lemon here, not lime, adding a totally different flavor profile to things. We actually squeezed at least half a lemon trying to bring the flavor up to our tastes.
The seafood broth that accompanied this was outstanding; clear, yet full of savory, but not overly "fishy" flavors.
The "I'll have what he's having" dish was the classic Chilean Paila Marina.
Man, the shellfish and crab in this were amazingly fresh, bright, and cooked to perfection. The fish in the "stew" were a bit beyond our preferred doneness. The broth needed the help of some salt and again, to adjust for our taste, a good amount of citrus as it was very light.
I don't remember the price of our meal; but I do recall being amazed at how inexpensive it was. I was also impressed with the friendly and gracious service....I mean, everyone else in the place looked local and yet we were treated like regular customers! When we paid, I left a tip.....the young man, looking quite distressed, made sure to go over the check with me, worried that I didn't understand the currency. We really loved the people here.
Marisqueria Yiyi Mercado Central Santiago, Chile
We took a nice leisurely walk back to the hotel.....after all, it was a "dog day Sunday" right?
Parque Forestal was alive with activities; and yet things seemed so relaxed.
If you wanted the children's entertainment; there it was......
If you wanted a nice nap in the grass; well, you could get that too.
Our hotel has an afternoon tea/coffee. I'm thinking there weren't too many folks staying here, slow season and all. So we decided to have nice respite and some coffee. Like I said before, it was like our little, private oasis.
As we had our coffee, we had a chance to chat with the young man who served us. We mentioned how relaxed, laid back, and friendly we found Santiago. He laughed and told us, "it's because today is Sunday....there's no commute, no one is in a rush....there is no competition for space. You should be here on Monday!" I dunno....it might all be relative.
We returned to our room; relaxed and ready for a short nap before "dinner".....which would be a tour through the various wines of Chile.