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What an incredible day in beautiful Chile. Que hermoso pais!
It is very late after a long day, and I am going to pay for this in the morning and I will definitely get an earful from my wife, but I just had to share my experience from today! We spent a lot of time in transport. After a 45-minute flight, we took a 2-hour van ride up to 7,000 feet in the Andes. Let me tell you, it was all worth it!
Right away, after stepping out of the van, we were greeted by grapes hanging, just begging to be eaten. What could we do? We are only human! These were some of the sweetest and most flavorful grapes I have ever eaten. Alas, these gems are intended for something far more sublime. We were also greeted by the winemaker, Marcelo Retamal, and some of the men that he works with. You can see Patricio looking over the vines above.
On a side note…over the course of the next week, I’ll be introducing you all to some of the cohorts here in Chile. Rosemary Maggiore is testing out the magnetic energy that the Elqui Valley is known for. When she is not getting in touch with her spiritual side (and sliding down the side of a mountain), she is the President of Rachael Ray Digital. If you look up anything online that has to do with Rachael Ray, you can pretty much thank Rosemary for getting it there.
As part of our tour and overall experience, we had a unique opportunity to stomp grapes. We had our own “Lucy” in Evette Rios. More about her later. You can see what a mess this process can be. I’m sure that I ruined my shorts, but seriously…what is a pair of shorts compared to that experience? Thanks so much to Marcelo for allowing us to be part of it.
So after a full day of sitting, more sitting, walking down sandy, rocky hills (in flip flops, no less), and stomping grapes…well, a man builds up an appetite, you know? Thankfully, the ladies at this winery were as hard at work as we were. Everything that we ate at lunch was grown or raised on premises or within just a couple of miles. Fresh avocados, amazing raisins, the crunchiest walnuts you’ve ever had and plenty of wine and pisco. And as amazing as all of that was, it was just a drop in the bucket compared to the incredible pork that you see Juan Louis slicing above. It was cooked for 24 hours in a wood stove. The wood? Grapevines! So good! I’ve got my work cut out for me to recreate that at home.
Sadly, we did have to leave eventually. The great thing about trips like this, though, is that you can make additional stops in the most interesting little places. One thing that I have learned about Chileans is that they love simple beauty. A dog who was drinking out of the fountain stopping long enough to pose for a picture, a perfectly white flower, a man waiting for a bus, and even a smile brought on by a great find in a local shop. You may recognize Evette, sporting her new hair accessory, from The Chew or as Rachael Ray’s design buddy. She’s a trip and every bit as personable as you would imagine her to be.
That’s about it from Chile for tonight. Stay tuned as I try to bring you more photos, more adventures, and more about our group. Make sure you follow me on Twitter and keep track of this Foods From Chile experience at #FoodsFromChile
Have any questions? Photo requests? Leave me a comment!