My whole life I have dreamed of going to South America. I think it had to do something with the million times I watched this movie as a little girl dreaming of adventure. LAN Airlines are the kings of the South American skies, and they wanted to take us around Chile to discover new things to be found #onlyinsouthamerica with them. The first stop: Santiago! I was expecting color and I was so pleased when I got it. Murals painted all up and down the street, some with the words of their Nobel Peace Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda and other times just beautiful birds or majestic headpieces and my favorite – romantic rusted iron roses crawling up the sides of buildings. We stayed in the Bohemian quarter of Santiago – Bellavista – where on a walk about we saw many beautiful cafés, artisanal shops, and toured the famous poet’s unique city dwelling, one of my FAVORITE activities of the entire trip.
The first thing I found quite surprising was the quality of food. The food found only in South America was phenomenal. I don’t know if it has changed since decades past or if this is just the best kept secret…or if I’m just a sheltered American. For lunch we had tapas with local Chilean wine pairings at Bocanariz meaning, appropriately, nose and mouth. Dinner was at Europeo in a neighborhood I called the Beverly Hills of Santiago with drive-thru Hermes shopping and Bentley lots. Europeo was unlike any dining experience I have yet to have, with a tasting menu by 2013 chef of the year Francisco Mandiola of single-serve plates that look more like works of art than mere nourishment. Afterwards when the chef came out to greet us he explained about our favorite dish (two little mushroom raviolis in sauce in a small glass bubble) that he wanted it to be like a little aquarium – the broth is the water, the raviolis are the fishes!
The afternoon was spent exploring historic Santiago from the Gabriel Mistral Centro Cultural, Plaza de Armas to the Palacio Moneda and on our final morning (day 2) we explored the fascinating and culturally rich Vega Central food market. This place was so big I felt like you could have fit all of Manhattan in it! The colors, the exotic fruits, the gorgeous seasonal produce, the man sharping a knife in the middle of the aisle with a machine as old as the city…this was the adventure I was looking for….
Take a look at my first steps in South America~
To do with you what spring does with the cherry trees.”
~ Pablo Neruda