Ten Days in South America

Ten Days in South America Recipe

About a month ago I sent an email to my friend Gwen. I asked her to let me know the next time she was heading down to Chile. She works for the Huneeus family at Quintessa in Napa. They also own Veramonte in the Casablanca Valley just a short drive outside of Santiago Chile, and she travels there often. She replied immediately that a trip was in the works - she was in the process of booking her flight. The plan was to meet up with her friend Mai (who is Chilean and also works at Quintessa), head over to Mendoza (a wine region just a short hop over the Andes in Argentina), and then back to Santiago for a couple days of work/meetings. I asked if I could tag along, they said no problem, we tacked a few days in Buenos Aires onto the tail end of the adventure, and I started packing. It was an exciting whirlwind of a trip and I returned with a notebook full of notes, stories, and recipe ideas that I look forward to weaving into the site over the coming months.

South America Travel

For starters, I thought I'd share with you the day-by-day broad strokes of trip, links to the places we ate, stayed and visited, along with a few of the faces I encountered along the way. Thanks to Gwen and Mai for letting me tag along at the last minute, and for introducing me to their friends (and in Mai's case family!). Also, to all the individuals who were so generous with their time - we were greeted with open doors, stories, and friendship all along the way.

8/2: Getting to South America
American Airlines San Francisco to Los Angeles ---> LAN from Los Angeles to Santiago, Chile ---> Stunning flight over the Andes Mountain range - LAN Santiago, Chile to Mendoza, Argentina

8/3: Arrive in Mendoza
Checked into the Park Hyatt Mendoza, on the Plaza de la Independencia, about fifteen minutes from the airport. Went for a run on the treadmill at the hotel and then walked around central Mendoza. It was a Sunday so not much was going on. Just around the corner from the hotel we tasted a bunch of local wines at The Vines of Mendoza Tasting Room (if you go ask for Emilia Martinez, she did a great job guiding us through the wines). I did the Las Muestras flight, a sampling of signature regional varietals and Gwen did Las Reservas de Argentina, the reserve selections. And we also ordered a fantastic plate of cheeses from the area.

South America Travel

8/4: Lujan de Cuyo, Mendoza Wineries
Picked up our other friend Mai from the Mendoza airport. The Mendoza region is best known for its Malbecs and many of the wineries are a short drive outside Mendoza's city center. Having a driver was key to covering a lot of ground, and both drivers we had were great. If any of you want the details on the car company we used email me and I will track down that info for you. First stop - Carlos Pulenta Winery. Lunch at Club Tapiz's Terruño restaurant, Maipu. Onto Achaval Ferrer Winery, and back to Carlos Pulenta for a tour of his winery. Checked into Posada Borravino before dinner at 1884 Francis Mallmann at Bodega Escorihuela.

8/5: More Mendoza Wineries
- We ran into Laura Catena at dinner the previous night and she was nice enough to invite us to Catena Zapata - not a bad place to kick of the day and get my camera warmed up. Next up - a tasting at Vina Cobos, and then up the road for a quick tour of Cavas Wine Lodge. Lunch was great - we did a tasting and visited with Mai's friend Sebastian and his family and colleagues at Bodega Ruca Malen. They did some delicious vegetarian inspired food pairings for me - a couple in particular used everyday ingredients (like zucchini and eggplant) in delicious and unexpected ways. More to come on this front in a future post. We were running a bit late and missed our appointment at Terrazas de los Andes, so we ended up stopping off at Marcelino Wine Store on the way to the airport instead. Flew from Mendoza, Argentina to Santiago, Chile, and checked into the Ritz-Carlton, Santiago. Walked up the street for dinner at Akarana.

South America Travel

8/6: Santiago, Chile
I hung out solo in Santiago. Started my day with a macchiato from one of the numerous Starbucks within shouting distance of the hotel (Chile is not known for its coffee). Then took the impeccable subway system to the Mercado Central de Santiago. Took the subway back in the direction of the hotel but got off to try to find one of the tortas shops a friend told me about over dinner. Found the tortas, had another coffee and decided to walk back to the hotel from there when I stumbled on Organisk - a little organic/natural foods shop. I ended up chatting with one of the owners for a while, they had some great products in stock. Freshened up at the hotel before enjoying a fantastic lunch at Rai with friends Paulina and Roberto (of Chileangourmet). They took me to one of their favorite spots where Chef Raimundo Tagle is doing some very cool things with Chilean ingredients - I'll write about the specifics (and why I'm such a fan of the work Paulina and Roberto are doing in Chile) in a future post. Went for a run on the treadmill back at the hotel and decided to stick around the hotel. Went downstairs and had a veg. club sandwich at Ritz-Carlton Wine 365 and then did a tasting flight of Chilean white wines. And chef Leiva gave me an impromptu tour of the Ritz kitchen :)...

8/7: Santiago, Casablanca, and Valparaiso, Chile
Had a leisurely morning and then drove out to the Casablanca Valley for a tasting at Veramonte and a tour of the vineyards. Spent a very special afternoon with Mery and Cristian at the Eden-esque Matetic. I got to walk the vineyards with alpacas, see how Mery makes her delicious Torta del Rosario - made from the milk of the sheep on the ranch, and watch the sunset behind the hills. I threatened to move in. We then drove to coastal Valparaiso and checked into Zero Hotel (if you go, splurge for a room with a view). A big group of us walked down the hill for dinner at Pasta e Vino Ristorante.

8/8: Valparaiso, Chile
Coffee and breakfast on the patio, and then a walk around Valparaiso. We stopped off at Casa Museo La Sebastiana before a drive out to Quintay. Then we headed back to Santiago, and checked back into the Ritz-Carlton. Got back in time to hit up Pura and Pueblito Los Dominicos for a bit of shopping before everything closed for the night.

South America Travel

8/9: On to Buenos Aires, Argentina
On to Buenos Aires where we grabbed our luggage and hopped into a cab to the Palermo Viejo neighborhood. Five Cool Rooms was the destination. Grabbed some lunch and walked around Palermo Viejo - great shopping on the cheap. Stopped at Bar 6 a bit later for a caffeinated pick-me-up, and eventually ate dinner at Bereber - all walking distance from the hotel.

8/10: Buenos Aires, Argentina
San Telmo Antique Market in the morning - loads of vintage cameras, costume jewelry, and vintage wind-up alarm clocks and old, colorful South America license plates. Walked around a bit then hopped into a cab and went to La Boca which ended up over-the-top touristy - we only stayed about 15 minutes. Lunch in Recoleta. Back to Palermo Viejo, where we had dinner at Bar Uriarte.

8/11: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Took a taxi to the Casa Rosada, and then a walked up the street to Cafe Tortoni. Walked from there over to the Puerto Madero district where I squirreled away snacks for the plane at I Fresh Market. Checked out El Gato Negro spice shop. And then took yet another cab to Bio in Palermo for lunch. Back to Palermo Viejo, sat out a thunder storm at Bar 6 and then Mott, before having dinner somewhere not worth mentioning.

8/12: 24 hours of flying
Checked out of hotel. Never-ending series of flights home. LAN Buenos Aires ---> American Airlines Santiago, Chile ---> American Airlines Miami, Florida ---> American Airlines San Francisco, California. Back home before noon in time for lunch with Wayne.

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Next time, have a time here in Brazil, it's wonderful. I highly suggest Florianopolis which has great vegetarian options (it's considered the vegetarian island here) and for a wonderful contact with nature, spend a time in Bonito (I've never been there, but it's a must go).


I love the beaches of brazil. I wish if I have to visit the beaches of Rio. Hero

R Islam

HI Heidi, Welcome home... you must be tired after all the travel! I just want to say how much I enjoy reading anything you write. I recieve email from you about your latest recipe's and you have such a talent with writing that I can't help but read what you have written. You have a way of drawing a person in. Thank you for making food very interesting to read about!


My wife and I were in the San Telmo market the same day you were! We're now back in the Bay Area enjoying the fruits of summer (and yummy summer ice cream flavors like Basil at Ici in Berkeley) and Coles Coffee in Oakland.


Heidi! What a great trip! Sounds like you had a wonderful time! Your photos are amazing and I look forward to seeing and hearing more!

oh my goodness, what a wonderful post! my friend and i are in the very very early planning stages of a trip to south america this winter, and this just makes me want to go even more! thank you!


Heidi! Welcome back! And hello from Santiago again. It's great to hear you had a good time and that you liked our neck of the woods. Please let's have some kind of get-together if you have the chance to get down here again. You won't believe the coincidence: I spent last weekend in Bs As, and we were in San Telmo at the same time!!! I would have loved meeting you. I'm looking forward to your "southern" inspired recipes! Monica


Hola Heidi Just to tell you that it was really nice meeting you and hope you can come back to our wondefull country again and discover more nice recipes overhere!!!!! saludos Cristian

Cristian Matetic

heidi! I can´t believe you were visiting my country!!!! Yours is my home page, I love it!!! I am also a graphic designer, and as you, i enjoy cooking and eating very much... next time you pass by argentina, we should certainly meet each other, I can be your tourist guide!!!! keep posting wonderful recipies!!! mana

Oh My God !!! Heidi, you dont believe this, Im from Santiago, Chile Im happy you stayed here and enjoyed, your pictures are really,really nice I love too Pueblito Los Dominicos and I know the Chef Tagle is soo good, Your really enjoy??? I think the people is warm here, not all, but the most of people, and Casablanca is sooo nice, are the best wines in this moment but you know this. I read this because I suscribed to your Blog and enjoy yours recipes, Im blogging about 1 year (now I will a year) and if you like I invite you my Blog know my recipes of Chile and others and I post about some places of Chile, Valparaìso, South and others.xxx Gloria http://canelakitchen.blogspot.com

How funny, we were just there 3 weeks ago, Santiago, Valparaiso, Bs As, Iguazu. Hope you had the fish soup, cebiche and empanadas con mariscos / con roquefort in Chile, and spent some time in San Telmo in Bs As eating lomo as well! We have lots of stories from there, can't wait to go back!

F Manji

Heidi! I live in Santiago and I´m a big fan of your blog... I even bought your book at amazon and payed a shipment for it! I work for an "organic box" store here. I´m very vary happy that you visited Chile (and Argentina!) It´s funny to see the chilean police picture in this post! Next time you come here go to con-con, near by Valparaíso ... there are great and cheap restaurants in there and they are very typical too! A hug from chile! HS: I had no idea I had so many readers in Santiago! If I had known I would have thought about doing some sort of get-together. Next time for sure, I look forward to going back soon :)


South America is definitely on our roster of places to go soon! What a pleasure to see your post! Can I ask a few questions? It seems like a GREAT place to just walk and see the sights! We have a toddler, so it would be great to find a safe place we could just walk around and explore. Also, we do not know any Spanish. Would that be a problem? HS: Hi Traci, as is the case with traveling in any country, you get a lot more out of it if you know the language. That being said, my Spanish is terrible and I was able to make my way around. I'm sure there are many great toddler friendly areas to visit. I would say, in the same way that there are places/cities/neighborhoods to visit in the US that are safer than others - the same can be said of many of the S.A. cities. Up to date guide books are usually pretty good about letting you know where to go, and how to get there. There wasn't any point on this trip where I felt uncomfortable or unsafe - whether I was alone or with friends.

Hi Heidi, I am completely falling in love with all of your recipes and photos! I also found the articles on oils and fats that you linked to on the spelt mac' and cheese recipe very interesting. Although it made me curious if you are vegetarian for health reasons or other? None of my business if it is a moral stand point, it just seems like so much of your cooking is about health and I was wondering if that is why you don't post any meat recipes.


Yay! I'm so glad you went to the country I'm from...Chile! Even my father was happy to see this post. If you ever go to Chile again, you must go to a small town called Chillan. Almost every other restaurant is Vegan/Vegetarian and oh so delicious! Did you get any good recipes while there? Can't wait to see!


Seeing your photographs, and being an amateur photographer, I have to ask. How do you approach people about photographing them? I haven't yet worked up the nerve to just ask someone if I could take a picture of them because they are a character. HS: If anyone ends up being a character in a setting like, say, the market in Santiago it ends up being me. As far as taking portraits of people - approaching them, etc..it really depends. Many times (for example in some of these shots) I'll be talking with them about their work or lives, or chatting with one of their friends, or having a look at what they are doing (or working on)...and I'll simply ask - or point to the camera if all other forms of communication fail. The real challenges for me start there - slowing down in sometimes chaotic environments, attempting to find the right light (I still fail a lot in this regard), being patient, connecting with the subject. I learn something new every picture I take. -h

Jim Lang

Hola Heidi! Loved your column! It was great fun traveling with you and can't wait to read your discoveries on new recipes with a south american accent. Besos, Mai


Please tell me you tried Pastel de Choclo and Empanadas de Pino in Chile?


Hi Heidi, this is my first time here! You should go to Brazil, believe me it's a fun place and really good food, you will not regret it! HS: Next trip!


Hi Heidi, this is my first time here! You should go to Brazil, believe me it's a fun place and really good food, you will not regret it!


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