Food and Wine

Seven dishes you must try in Chile: Owner and chef Francisco Araya, Calia, Melbourne

CALDILLO DE CONGRIO

This is a cusk-eel stock made with fresh carrots, onion, cilantro and garlic. It’s a very emblematic Chilean fish dish and can be found all over the country. Even Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda, wrote an ode to the dish, called Oda al Caldillo de Congrio.

PATAGONIAN LAMB

From the sparsely populated region at the southern end of South America, this is “crucified” meat that is barbecued close to the fire (not charcoaled) for up to nine hours. My favourite part is the ribs – they become extremely crispy and super tasty.

CHILEAN EMPANADA

Chile’s local version of a meat pie is in the shape of an Italian calzone. It’s common to have an empanada every Sunday as an appetiser with a nice glass of red wine.

YELLOWTAIL TUNA

Easter Island is famous for its fresh yellowtail tuna fish. It’s commonly enjoyed seared in empanadas or prepared as ceviche with purple onion and a generous squeeze of lime juice. The best place to go for an authentic Chilean experience on Easter Island is Empanadas Tia Berta. Tuna fish tastes even better while soaking up the stunning ocean views. (Atamu Tekena, Hanga Roa, Isla de Pascua)

COFFEE

I recommend having breakfast at La Vega central, a bustling market in Santiago that is especially atmospheric in the mornings. It’s known for its fresh Chilean produce, bursting with fruit, vegetables, baked goods, coffee and pressed juices. (Antonia Lopez de Bello 743, Santiago.)

CHACARERO

In Santiago, La Fuente Alemana (translating to “German fountain”) boasts some of the best sandwiches in the capital of Chile. I recommend the chacarero, that sees a large bun layered with pork, green beans, tomato and yellow chili. Service is quick and the meals are always fresh. They are best enjoyed alongside a chop of beer (pint). (Cardenal Jose Maria Caro 31, Santiago.)

ERIZOS EN SALSA VERDE

Erizos en salsa verde translates to sea urchin with green sauce. I love having this dish for brunch, just before lunch time to enjoy alongside a glass of fresh minerally white wine. If I’m in Santiago, I’ll swing by Donde Augusto for a feed. It’s also a great cure for a hangover. (San Pablo 967, Santiago.)

Francisco Araya began his career at Alma in Santiago before training at Andoni Luis Aduriz’ Mugartiz in Spain.  He went on to cook at elBulli, opened Michelin-starred 81 Restaurant in Tokyo, and was executive chef at NAPA Wine Bar and Kitchen in Shanghai. He opened Calia at Melbourne’s Emporium in December, 2016.  See calia.com.au 

Robin Cole