On November 15, bloggers in five major cities participated a celebration of food from Chile. We hosted home dinners with all food and wine provided by Foods From Chile. The food and wine arrived the day before, and I spent all day in the kitchen cooking.
The dinner focused on foods that come from Chile, and each dish included fresh seasonal foods such as clementines, avocados, walnuts, raspberries, salmon, and Chilean Extra-Virgin Olive Oil. Chile is very fortunate to have a Mediterranean climate, making it an ideal location for growing crops. The natural barriers of ocean, high mountains, desert, and glaciers protect the land from insects, disease, and climate damage. The soils are rich, resulting in nutrient-dense produce and natural disease protection.
We started the night with an olive oil tasting (above), using baguette slices for dipping and Granny Smith apple for cleansing our palates between the two oils. The salad course was an endive salad with clementines, raspberries, goat cheese, and a drizzle of Chilean extra-virgin olive oil. The next course was a chilled avocado soup with avocados, coconut water, lime juice, cilantro, shallots, cayenne, and walnuts. The flavor was so rich, like a good guacamole, and the texture very smooth. It was such a delicious treat, one I would make again.
Of course the cook gets to sample in the kitchen…
We tasted the Chilean spice Merkén, a hot dried and smoked pepper. It brought on a little burn, so I used a light hand when I rubbed it all over the salmon.
The salmon was so fresh and flavorful, especially with the Merkén and baked on almond crust, and the plate looked beautiful with the fresh tomato and raspberry salsa and black rice. One of my friends who doesn’t even like salmon had a second piece, which says a lot about how good it was.
After a luscious cherry-berry crumble for dessert, we spent the rest of the night night drinking wine, nibbling, and laughing, which is the best way to have a party. The only thing that could have made the night better was a few absent friends who had to cancel at the last minute. Gals, we ate some food and drank some wine for you! And of course the wines were all from Chile: Tobiano Pinot Noir 2009, MontGras Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2011, and Queulat Sauvignon Blanc 2011. At the end of the night, I think the Pinot Noir was the favorite.
We were having such a good time that we didn’t realize how late it was when we started to wind down. Eleven o’clock on a Thursday night is way past my bedtime, but I wasn’t even tired. And what’s a party without goodie bags? The guests took home Chilean wine, Merkén, onion jam, pear jam, maqui berry jam, olive oils, mussels, and fruit juices. Everything was from Chile. At the end of the night we all agreed, “Chile, we love your food!”
And in case you want to try that delicious avocado soup…
The avocado soup has rich flavor and is very healthy. I used less coconut water and it came out with a soufflé-like texture, which seemed popular with the guests, though a lighter texture would be perfect for summer hot weather. Avocados turn brown quickly after cutting, so make the soup just a couple hours before the meal, and keep it all in one bowl in the refrigerator. If the soup browns on top while chilling, skim that off before serving. Small servings are key, about 1/2 cup per person.
Chilled Avocado Soup
- 4 large ripe avocados
- 1 ½ cups coconut water (or more as needed for a light texture)
- 1 ½ limes, juiced
- 1 cup cilantro leaves
- 1/2 cup chopped chives
- 2 shallots minced
- pinch cayenne pepper
- sea salt to taste
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 1 inch pieces of chives
- Pit the avocados and scoop out the flesh. Place the avocado, coconut water, lime juice, cilantro, 1/2 cup chives, shallots, and cayenne pepper in the blender or food processor. Process until smooth. Add additional coconut water as needed to achieve a soup-like consistency. Add sea salt to taste. Chill until ready to serve. Spoon in glasses or bowls, and garnish with chopped walnuts and chive pieces.
All photos by my friend, Frank Stoehrer.