Sunday in the Chilean Countryside

Juan Carlos and I recently returned home from a fabulous trip to Chile, where we were visiting our friends' country home and taking in the sights.  This was our first visit to this amazing country.

 Fruit trees on the farm

Fruit trees on the farm

Our friends were quite generous with their time, taking us on several adventures.  On a beautiful Sunday morning, we had the great fortune of being invited to their mother's 75 acre farm home, located in Melipilla, just outside of Santiago.

 Citrus trees on Teresa's farm

Citrus trees on Teresa's farm

As we drove up the eucalyptus tree lined driveway, we spied a charming house and were met by an even more charming hostess. Teresa is the matriarch of the Momo family and the initial force behind their restaurant business, Terra Momo Group, back in Princeton, NJ.  She served up graciousness
along with a meal that filled us to the brim. We spent the afternoon exchanging stories and delving deeper into the questions of our soul.  Such as what is the difference between the Spanish words "simple" and "sencillo".   A philosophical debate that we didn't quite conclude.

 Lively dinner discussion

Lively dinner discussion

 Handmade empanadas

Handmade empanadas

Appetizers started with the most delicious empanadas. Since I'm a pescatarian and these were meat filled, I only tried the masa. It was light and tasty and full of onions. There was also a plate of local cheese and olives, both were mild but flavorful.  

 

Fernando, who is an old friend of Chile's most famous author, Pablo Neruda, shared with us his legendary Pisco Sours, made using lemons from the farm. These were a treat indeed, as he stirred the glass with ice cubes for 20 minutes to ensure the temperature was just right.  The word patience simply is not good enough for this kind of dedication.

 Fernando ready to serve his delicious Pisco Sour.

Fernando ready to serve his delicious Pisco Sour.

 The art of the ice

The art of the ice

Then after all that, the actual meal began.  We each received an enormous square of vegetable lasagna.  At first, I was excited at receiving such a large piece because I LOVE PASTA, but then thought, how in the world will I finish this.  Much to my surprise, this was one of the lightest yet flavor-packed vegetable lasagna I have ever eaten. The reason; Teresa made her own fresh lasagna noodles that were paper thin, light and float in your mouth.  She filled it with mushrooms, shredded carrots, spinach, each sautéed separately.  Then she used the barest amount of béchamel and tomato puree.  Needless to say, I was committed to finding the bottom of my plate. Being from good Italian roots, I had no problem devouring my entire portion.  

 Teresa, pleased with the most amazing vegetable lasagna

Teresa, pleased with the most amazing vegetable lasagna

 A square of heaven

A square of heaven

 

When our hostess asked me if I wanted another piece, my heart sang out YES, YES, but my stomach had to say no. Especially knowing that we were about to be served a freshly caught, oven roasted fish served with cilantro/tomato salsa, avocado & celery salad, red and green leaf salad. Need I say more.  I tried it all and every bite was more delicious than the next. Fresh and clean, with all the purity of flavors standing on their own.  

 Fresh, Fresh tomatoes

Fresh, Fresh tomatoes

 Roasted fish with celery salad, avocado & tomato

Roasted fish with celery salad, avocado & tomato

Now I'm sure you are thinking "what a meal?" And it was, but then came the fresh fruit plate with apricots picked from her farm.  These were succulent and sweet, with a melt in mouth texture that I've never experienced in eating apricots.  I wanted to stuff my bag with them and run out the door!

 Seriously the most tender, flavorful apricots I have ever eaten

Seriously the most tender, flavorful apricots I have ever eaten

The piece de résistance: Tiramisu, of course, made by Teresa.

 A dessert worth the calories

A dessert worth the calories

What can I say, but on this Sunday I was reminded of my own Italian family roots and big Sunday dinners as we were treated to an amazing afternoon of Italian/Chilean hospitality filled with scrumptious food, provocative conversation and gracious generosity.  I hope that you can find time on Sundays to share food, laughter and good conversation with family and friends.  I think that is what Sundays were made for.

 Juan Carlos, Teresa and me

Juan Carlos, Teresa and me

 

Post Note:  In the very near future, I will attempt to recreate Teresa's vegetable lasagna to share with you.