Today we called at the lake district of Chile. The third largest lake in South America is located here, Lago Llanquihui. On it’s banks is located the city of Puerto Varas also known as The City of Roses. Today’s adventure will be something different.
The sky was blue when we entered the harbor at Porto Montt and the air smelled fresh with a hint of herb or spice. By the time we tendered into town the sky had turned a molten grey and the breeze was fresh. We met our guide Theresa and our local chef Ricardo. We made the short drive to the local market to pick up ingredients for lunch. The market was in an old wooden building but was immaculately clean and fresh smelling. All the produce looked wonderful and the fish were very, very fresh. Ricardo chose some muscles, clams, razor clams, smoked clams and conger eel. The veggies were butter beans, snow peas, potatoes, shallots, elephant ear garlic, and beets along with chili peppers, apple cider vinegar, cilantro and kelp.
By the time we left the market, the skies had opened up but it was a quick dash to the bus and off we went to visit Ricardo’s fisherman friend to pick up the catch of the day. You can’t get much fresher than that.
After a short drive from the port up to Puerto Varas the group split up, some continuing to tour the area and some, me included, to lend a hand in the kitchen. While a wood fire burned and the staff cleaned muscles and clams, we prepped the vegetables. Chef cleaned and filleted the fish and drenched the pieces with lemon juice to prepare civiche. The fish head and bones were simmered to prepare a fish stock. In another pot the potatoes were slowly cooking with the kelp.
Chef then toasted chili powder with shallots over a low flame to release the aromas. When the powder changed color slightly, he added butter, cooked covered until the butter was melted and added the muscles and clams and a few cups of the apple cider and continued to simmer until the seafood was done.
By that time the entire group was together, the kitchen was crowded and the prep staff went into the lounge to sip a lovely Cabernet and wait for lunch. It was well worth waiting for. We had four courses, all complex and delicious and all prepared fresh for us.
A short drive brought us back to the ship for a warm tub before dinner. Will probably stick with soup and salad and maybe ice cream tonight. Hope to stay up for the show tonight or maybe a hand or two of poker.
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