Posts tagged 'family'
Though I stayed primarily in Puerto Vara during my family vacation, my family and I ventured out to places that I had never been to before. For example, my sister’s best friend owns land on the banks of Lake Llanquihue, and we enjoyed a fabulous lunch there. During one of our hikes it was raining, but we never let the weather ruin our good time. It felt wonderful hiking through the forests, listening to the silence of nature. You can’t help but to relax immediately. Your brain almost says shhhhh. For a Type-A personality like me, it was a transformative experience that I cannot truly express in words.
I love my home country. It may be prone to volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, landslides and tsunamis, but you can also drive from the Andes Mountains to the Pacific Ocean in less than two hours in most parts of Chile, as it is one of the narrowest countries in the world. However, Mother Nature can be dangerous. Last June, the Puyehue volcano erupted for the first time in 50 years. The cloud of ash reached Argentina and continues to cause problems as the volcano has not stopped erupting. When I took pictures of Lake Llanquihue, I could see Puyehue in the distance as well as the ash in the air.
While I recommend that everyone visit my hometown—Santiago, I also suggest driving the 650 miles south to Chile’s Los Lagos region located at the base of the Andes Mountains. You must see the pristine bay of Frutillar at the banks of Lake Llanquihue. You must hike through the green lush valleys. You must allow yourself to get lost in all of the beauty that Chile has to offer. But most importantly, you must allow your brain to say shhhhh for a few hours.
— Alex Guarachi
In addition to playing soccer and spending time with my family, I also ate some fantastic food on my vacation. The day I arrived, I ate mariscos aka seafood. The delicious seafood stew that made my mouth water consisted of abalone, prawns, octopus, fish and clams. It was so yummy! I mean, it was to die for. When you visit Puerto Varas, you must find a local restaurant because they are owned by fishermen who catch the fish daily. The seafood is guaranteed to be fresh. We drank Santa Ema Sauvignon Blanc and Montes Alpha Chardonnay with our stew.
On another occasion, I ate Ensalada a la Chilena, which is sliced tomatoes and onions in an oil dressing. How I missed a good Chilean salad! My family and I also grilled lamb and steak on the barbeque. With this meal, we drank Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon, Montes Purple Angel and Guarachi Family Wines Cabernet Sauvignon. The wines were a perfect complement to the meat.
When I was a child, my favorite dish was empanadas, which are very Chilean and very good with red wine. Empanadas look like a baked English pie with meat and onions on the inside. The dough is the most important part. There are many kinds of empanadas: beef, seafood, cheese, etc. Though I prefer beef, my children like ham and cheese empanadas.
Of all of the wonderful dishes that I ate, the one that I would recommend most is Pastel de Choclo, a typical Chilean summer dish. It consists of ground corn and ground beef, chopped onions, pieces of hard-boiled eggs, olives and raisins. This “corn pie” (similar to Shepherd’s Pie) is baked in the oven. The top is sprinkled with sugar, which gets burned while cooking and gives the top layer a nice sweet crust.
I encourage you to make your own Pastel de Choclo. You will love it!
— Alex Guarachi
Like a Chilean shepherd’s pie, Pastel de Choclo tops spiced ground beef with a puréed corn crust. You can prepare the pies through step 5 up to one day ahead; cover and chill. It may take up to 10 minutes longer to bake the cold pies and broiling may not be needed to brown tops. Use purchased refrigerated grilled chicken breast pieces or grill your own.
Photo by: Monica Buck
- YIELD: Makes 4 servings
- TOTAL: 45 Minutes
- COURSE: Main Dishes
- 1 pound ground lean beef
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1 onion (8 oz.), peeled and chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- About 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 2 hard-cooked large eggs, shelled
- 2/3 cup thinly sliced grilled chicken breast (see notes)
- 3 cups corn kernels (drained canned, thawed frozen, or fresh cooked)
- 3/4 cup whipping cream
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. In a 10- to 12-inch nonstick frying pan over high heat, combine beef and olive oil; break beef into chunks and stir often until no longer pink in center and liquid evaporates, 7 to 10 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, cover raisins with hot tap water and let stand until softened, about 5 minutes. Drain.
4. With a slotted spoon, transfer beef to a bowl. To drippings, add onion and garlic. Stir often on high heat until onion is lightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Add raisins, olives, paprika, cumin, beef and 3 tablespoons water; stir over medium heat to mingle flavors, 3 to 4 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5. Spoon mixture into 4 individual casseroles (2- to 2 1/2-cup size). Cut eggs in half lengthwise. Lay equal portions of chicken over beef, and push egg halves into casseroles, making mixture level.
6. In a food processor, whirl corn, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cream until coarsely puréed. Rinse and dry frying pan, then pour corn mixture into pan. Stirring on high heat, bring to bubbling, then reduce heat and, stirring often, simmer until darker yellow and drier, 5 to 7 minutes. Spoon corn mixture equally over beef, chicken and eggs and spread level.
7. Set casseroles on a baking sheet. Bake uncovered, set on a rack positioned so tops are about 4 inches from broiler, until hot in center, 13 to 16 minutes. Turn heat to broil (heat may not come on right away) and brown crusts, 3 to 4 minutes more after broiler is hot.
Wine Pairing: Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot with dark cassis, plum and black-olive flavors.
Amount per serving
- Calories: 661
- Calories from fat: 52%
- Protein: 38g
- Fat: 38g
- Saturated fat: 15g
- Carbohydrate: 47g
- Fiber: 4.7g
- Sodium: 861mg
- Cholesterol: 247mg
Sunset SEPTEMBER 2005
A few weeks ago, I went on vacation with my entire family. It was a special occasion because the last time we were all together was 13 years ago. I have a big clan—four sisters and three brothers. My siblings all live in Chile. I am the only one who moved away—the Black Sheep of the family although they still love me.
Anyway, time has passed quickly. My siblings’ children now have children. It’s funny to see my nieces and nephews with their own families, but it is also incredible to witness the circle of life. From the youngest who is six months old to the oldest who is 60 years old, 42 people came together to celebrate what I consider the most important thing in life: family.
We stayed in Puerto Varas, a city located in southern Chile near the lake region (i.e., Los Lagos Region). This area is very sparsely populated, and I only saw three or four boats on the lake during the week we were there. There are many outdoor activities to do including fly fishing, hiking and river rafting. I’ve been fly fishing before, and although we went fishing on this trip I didn’t catch anything. Just a couple of bites. However, I had lots of fun hiking in the lush green forests.
The most exciting event though was when the Guarachi family played the others (i.e., in-laws) in an indoor soccer match. We called it: the Guarachis vs. the World. Indoor soccer is played on Astroturf with smaller goals so the final score tends to be higher, and indeed it was! The Guarachis won 10 – 8. Believe it or not, even though we were playing amongst family members, the level of competition was high, and it got heated! However, we ended the game with great wine and many laughs.
My favorite part of the trip was talking and remembering old times with my brothers and sisters. Having that quality time with family in a beautiful, serene environment is priceless. I only hope we don’t wait another 13 years to do it again.
— Alex Guarachi