Chile Tourism recently put on a wonderful evening to showcase the flavours of Chile, and why the country should be on everyone’s bucket list. I went along with Nicole from Bitten By The Travel Bug. Held at Raw Materials in Melbourne, the evening started off sampling some of Chile’s finest wines, nibbles like enchiladas & smoked salmon, and my favourite cocktail at the moment Pisco Sours.
We then watched Chilean chef, Ignacio cook up an amazing lamb dish and a quinoa and caramel dessert. Whilst cooking he told us stories of growing up in Chile and the dishes that his mother would cook his family, and where the various Chilean ingredients he was using came from. He was fantastic to watch as he cooked with such passion and enthusiasm. It was really inspiring and I couldn’t wait to have a go at cooking the dishes myself. And after he’d shown us the finished dishes, that’s exactly what we got the chance to do.
We were split into teams and told that we would be awarded prizes for who made the best dishes. Now I am incredibly competitive so was determined to win and was keen to show off my cooking skills. I love to cook, and so was completely in my element. Nicole and I were put in charge of cooking the dessert for our group. A spiced milk quinoa served with Pisco sultanas and a caramel and almond cake. I’ve never seen quinoa used in dessert before, and it’s an ingredient I don’t really cook a lot with. The dessert was really tasty though which was a pleasant surprise as I usually don’t like rice pudding kind of things. I think the star of the dessert was the Chimbote Dulce de Leche (carmel sauce). It was thick and sweet and totally addictive. I’ve tried Dulce de Leche before as they also love it in Argentina and put it on pretty much anything they can.
The main course was Magallanic walnut crusted lamb cutlets served with soft charquican (potato, pumpkin, corn and peas), berry chutney and Chilean salad. As our dessert was more a stir and wait and the plating was the star, I got to help cook the main too as there were more elements to the dish. I was put in charge of making the berry chutney. This used mixed berries, onion, white vinegar and sugar. I loved the mixture of sweet and sour, and couldn’t wait to see how it tasted alongside the lamb.
Once we’d finished cooking, we plated up the dishes – and yes I may have slightly taken over the finishing touches – perfectionist/competitive person alert, but I have to say, the dishes looked pretty amazing once we bought them to the table, and the best of the bunch if I say so myself! I’m sure we would have won if it hadn’t been for the fact that everyone ate the food before they had a chance to judge anyone. After watching it being cooked, then cooking ourselves, we were all too keen to try the food to worry about it being judged.
My god was it worth it. It was delicious. The berry chutney was amazing with the lamb, and I will definitely be adding that to my list of favourite things to make. The dessert was just the right amount of sweet and a great way to finish the meal. And of course we can’t forget the wine too. I was drinking a 2011 Carmenere called Casillero del Diablo which had a smooth, full bodied flavour and went perfectly with the lamb.
After watching a presentation on Chile, there was a quick fire questions competition on all that we had learnt that night. I won a beautiful coffee table book on Chile, which is giving me a severe case of wanderlust to visit the country. At the end of the night we were all given a goodie bag to take home that had a bottle of the Carmenere, some Chilean herbs and spices, and Chilean olive oil and we also got to keep the aprons that we’d used whilst cooking.
All in all it was a fabulous night. Chile is definitely now at the top of my bucket list. Not only does it look like an amazing country, filled with deserts, rainforests, volcanoes, and glaciers, but it is also the country where Pisco, my new found favourite drink is made.
Thanks to www.Chile.travel for a fantastic night. I’ll be there in a heartbeat if there is a repeat one day.