When in Chile, do NOT order Chilean sea bass!
Nothing excites me more than having the opportunity to see clients’ homes that Home Resource helped furnish. It is a real bonus when the client’s house is located outside the United States in beautiful Santiago, Chile.
The client had purchased furniture from us in the past and recently ordered a gorgeous Draenert marble top extension dining table. Since Draenert is not represented in Chile, Kathy suggested that the client should have a technical representative from the factory assemble the table. They agreed but they also insisted that we attend and assist with the table installation. Needless to say, our client didn’t need to twist our arm! Kathy and I took off to Chile; the installation was smooth, the client was thrilled, and Kathy and I had an incredible trip.
First, let's talk about Santiago. It is hard to imagine how far south it is. We flew from Atlanta to Quito Ecuador and that was only half way. Santiago is another four and half hours flight time south of the equator. It sits at the base of the Andes Mountains at 1,700 feet above sea level. Our first impressions: sprawling, cosmopolitan, energetic, sophisticated and a city center that has a European feel. Glacier topped mountains are clearly visible, and drivers seemed mad i.e. there are no rules. The New York Times did a nice article on Santiago before our trip titled “36 Hours in Santiago” that we chose to ignore.
We stayed in the Vitacura District of the city which has a significant amount wealth, a beautiful park (Parque Bicentenario), outstanding restaurants, chic hotels and high-end fashion stores.
If you ever follow our travel adventures on Facebook, you’d know that Kathy is never without a crisis or two…. Santiago was no different. The first afternoon, we found a perfect restaurant in the city center (Le Due Torri), our mouths watered for great seafood, great Chilean wine, and a pisco sour. Not in that order... All Kathy was craving was Chilean sea bass. You can’t visit Chile without eating the “famous” Chilean sea bass! Kathy requested Chilean sea bass from the waiter who kept saying “Corvina” but Kathy kept repeating "no Chilean sea bass". The waiter kept saying "corvina". Disappointed and frustrated, Kathy responded "don't you know your own seafood? The waiter says “Madame, in our country, sea bass is corvina. Do you want it or not? He was clearly agitated at this American who pretended to know Chile’s fish better than him. It turned out that Chilean sea bass is called Patagonia tooth fish. It is part of the cod family, is sold for export to the US but is not consumed in Chile. The sea bass in Chile is Corvina. Kathy was heartbroken!
Besides seafood, Chile has so much to offer but due to our limited time, we chose to explore the wine districts close to Santiago. With a short one hour drive you can reach some of Chile’s premiere wine regions, such as Maipo Valley, Colchagua Valley, Casablanca Valley, and Aconcagua Valley. Our client kindly offered to take us on a tour on the Casablanca Valley where the vintner Casa del Bosque is located.
Given Chile’s unique geographical location, it is one of the few places left in the world that can grow the elusive Carmenère varietal. This grape variety used to grow abundantly in Bordeaux, France, producing dark red wines until 1867 when it was hit by the phylloxera plague. Chile’s grapes were protected in the east by the cold Pacific Ocean air, in the north by the barren Atacama Desert, in the south by the frigid Antarctic glaciers, and in the west by the Andes. Casa del Bosque produces award-winning wines from the Carmenère grape. We tasted, we brought some back home, and savored this unique wine over an amazing lunch in the garden at the vineyard.
Chile is such a beautiful diverse country and it certainly warrants many more visits to truly discover and appreciate all it has to offer.