I won’t blame Pro Chile, a trade group promoting the wares of that lush Latin American country, for my eyeglasses being lost. I had them when I arrived for the Taste Chile! lunch being held at the Raleigh Hotel in South Beach. I had put them on to read the labels of Chilean food imports such as organic olive oil, preserved myrtle berries, and organic mapuche, a seasoning mix culled from dried and smoked chiles. One of the lunch courses featured a seared scallop crusted with mapuche, and perched on a bed of caramelized onions, myrtle berries, and smoked seaweed sauce (cochayuyo). Wow. The meal was prepared by Chef Pilar Rodriguez, a well-regarded Chilean chef known for designing each menu dish with a specific wine in mind. The wine pairing for the scallop was a 2006 Casa Lapostolle “Cuvee Alexandre” Chardonnay from Casablanca Valley -- toasty nose, figgy notes, and like many excellent Chilean wines, available for less than $20.
Corvina carpaacio with red onions, fried capers, carica, micro cilantro, and organic lemon-infused olive oil:
I won’t blame the pisco sour, the avocado pisco sour (too thick for a cocktail in my humble opinion), or the three glasses of wine for my eyeglasses being lost -- although maybe I should. I last put them on to check the amount of battery left in my tape recorder. Then I took them off and...I was in the midst of asking chef Rodriguez what Chilean food products she might think are under appreciated in the States. “The spices”, she started saying (the mapuche and cochayuyo are definitely worth checking out). Then she added all sorts of commodities to the list, such as the olive oils, myrtle berries, and “the wines, so young, fruity and fresh”. In retrospect, I would rather still have my glasses than that quote.
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Roasted lamb chops on caramelized onions, with red wine and myrtle berry sauce, and fried beets:
The Raleigh Hotel will be serving versions of our luncheon dishes, along with other Chilean specialties, with appropriate wine matches, tonight (Tuesday) through Friday night. The cuisine at lunch was terrific, so I can’t see how diners won’t enjoy it just as much this week. Then again, without my glasses I can’t see much of anything.
-- Lee Klein