Each year the culinary team at Omni Hotels travels the globe in search of unique and bold flavors. This year’s quest led them to Chile, where on the Western edge of South America, rustic flavors, warm people, compelling landscape, and world-class wines were the inspiration in creating an authentic Chilean menu paired with hand-selected wines that truly reflect the enchantment of Chile.
From its unique blend of Spanish and European culture to its 2,700 mile coastline, Chile is truly one of a kind. Currently the fifth largest wine exporter in the world, Chile plays a pivotal role in the global wine community. With an ideal climate, described as a combination of California and France, what else would you expect? The blend of fine wines and seafood dishes has propelled Chile to become a culinary mecca that most have yet to discover… ¡Destinación Chile!
Omni Hotel’s World Culinary Series featuring Chilean food and wine runs through December 31st, 2015. Here’s a brief synopsis of our delightful wine and food pairing by Executive Chef Robert Ash. A 17-year hospitality veteran, Executive Chef/Director of F&B at various five-star/diamond restaurants. Chef Ash’s diverse background includes training at L’Ecole Du Grand Chocolat in France and the International School of Confectionery Art in Maryland. Oh yeah! he also holds the accolades of being a pastry chef.
Without further adeiu, let’s talk food & juice!! Our indulgent evening commenced with a cocktail round of Chile’s traditional spirit of the dessert, Pisco. Fun Fact: Pisco is made from grapes that by law can only be grown in the dessert like, high altitude regions of Atacama & Coquimbo in the northern part of Chile.
Executive Chef Ash had prepared an exciting feast showcasing the colorful flavors and textures of Chilean food, embellishing its simplicity and rusticness with his signature culinary innovations. Our first course comprised of Sopa de Choclo con Pino de Championes – Corn soup made with fresh & local sweet corn, mushroom, acorn squash, hard-cooked egg (a nice surprise), and basil. Luxurious, sweet, creamy, earthy, I savored every sip capturing the fleeting summer.
In my humble opinion, no meal should commence without bubbles. Tonight we sipped on the organic Vina Cono Sur, Brut, Bio Bio Valley, a refreshing and lively aperitif option made with 92% Chardonnay & 8% Pinot Noir.
- Cameron Queso – shrimp, cheese, and spring onion, a regional specialty.
- Pequen – country empanada with caramelized onions.
- Pino – chopped beef, onions, hard cooked eggs, and green olives.
Cono Sur Bicicleta Viognier 2014 – A delightful option for pairing with bolder flavors, the Cono Sur Viognier showcased fruit aromas of stone fruit and citrus, bright acidity, with medium body. Did you know in July 2007 Cono Sur became the first winery in the world to obtain CarbonNeutral® delivery status. They also boast ISO certification, APL (Clean Production Agreement), OHSAS 18.001, & National Sustainability Code.
The wine geek in me could keep ranting on about juice but we have sustenance to share…..
Since I am allergic to shellfish, I couldn’t experience the Choritos con Pebre. My dining companions enjoyed the bold and fresh flavors of the steamed mussels with tomato, onion, bell pepper, and cilantro.
Bacalao Con Tomatican – seared sea bass with braised tomato, yellow corn, and cilantro salad. Smoky, sweet, bursting with deep flavors. When your country is made up almost entirely by coast, you’d better hope you have good seafood. And the Bacalao was a wonderful rendition boasting Southern American flavors.
our entree dishes were paired with Vina Bisquertt La Joya Gran Reserva Syrah 2013. Red ripe fruit, smoky, whisper of baking spices, pleasing acidity, and firm tannins.
Quinnoto de Championes con Pebre de Palta – golden Chilean quinoa slowly cooked with roasted mushroom and avocado. Okay people, I adore mushrooms and so dig the super grain quinoa. So YES! this Chilean risotto was the star of the night. It was pure indulgence without the guilt!! Gram-for-gram, quinoa is one of the planet’s most nutritious & healthier foods.
Our last meat dish for the evening was Costilla con Pure Picante – pork ribs slowly cooked in beer and palm honey with potato puree and Chilean smoked chili pepper. Finger-licking good, spicy, smoky, sweet, it worked brilliantly with the La Joya Syrah.
While every nation in South America has a distinct culinary tradition, shaped by local crops and array of immigrants, there is one element that unites them all: a serious sweet tooth. Our sweet finale comprised of Tres Leches Cake – sponge cake soaked with three milks and served with fresh strawberries and Arroz Con Leche y Salsa de Manjar – short grain rice cooked with milk, cinnamon, orange and dulce de leche. Both quintessential South American delicacies. The Arroz Con Leche, spiced with cinnamon, Florida citrus, & rich dulce de leche was simply exquisite.
Easily dubbed as the Bordeaux of South America, Chilean wine remain wallet-friendly while maintaining quality. Especially for wine drinkers in America who adore their Cabernets and Merlots. For more information on Wines of Chile, check out their Facebook Page.
Mucho gracias to Executive Chef Ash, Mr. Tobias, Ms. Kelly, and the entire team of Omni Hotels who literally transported us to the majestic lands of Chile, right here in our CFL backyards. For local CFL folks convenience, Omni does validate parking for dining at their restaurants.
In case you are interested in elevating your cooking skills with Chile Olive Oil, check out my post – Creating Delectable Delights with Chile Olive Oil.
Until next time, have a delicious day!