Blog of an aspiring foodie

Thoughts on this blog, and my Chilean wine and food tasting class (BACKPOST)

Posted by beer_chris on 23-October-2003

This isn't your standard blog. I poked around on LiveJournal, and on Scott Keith's current blog of doom site (JoeUser.com or something like that), and got scared away by structure. I'm not sure I'm actually ready to make any kind of real commitment to this effort, and paying or giving out my contact information is just too big a step to take at this point.

For now, I'll just make do with Notepad, Word, and the space I get with my broadband account. We'll see if this really goes anywhere, and if I even want to have other people read the entries. Who knows where it will go? I at least would like an outlet for my thoughts on food, and my growing obsession with the 'foodie' subculture. That said, I am notorious for starting grandiose (or even small) projects and abandoning them mid stream. Maybe this will be an outlet, maybe not. I haven't really thought enough about what this means to me to know if it will really provide me any value.

At least I can recognize that the only real purpose of a personal web page is to be personal, not to entertain others. That's a step in the right direction, I think.

I got Mommy a class for her birthday, and we went to the Chilean wine and food 'tour', led by a husband and wife pair of Chilean experts vis--vis their daughter, who has lived in Chile for some amount of years. All I knew about Chile was that it was pretty much the entire Pacific coast of South America, penguins live in the south because it is so close to Antarctica, and ExxonMobil just sold a copper mine there to the government. The dishes we prepared in the hands-on class were pretty good – we started with a Chilean torta thingy, pork tenderloin with guacamole and mayonnaise on some type of Chilean bolillo – good. Next was prep for the main course – a corn casserole with browned chicken pieces and empanada meat. The empanada filling had olives and golden raisins in it – I made that. We browned the ground beef in butter, and then drained the fat, and did not use it for anything. I found that odd – I've never browned ground beef in anything but its own fat – we used 4 tbsp. of butter and 2 tbsp. of olive oil. Odd, especially because we didn't reserve the fat+beef tallow for any other use.

Once combined, we seasoned the mixture with about 4 tsp. each of turmeric and this wonderfully aromatic Spanish paprika – smoky, spicy. I've smelled this before, and aside from the normal paprika aromas I described, the stuff has this wonderful aroma I can only describe as dark and wet – it reminds me of the smell of river rocks in the Guadalupe river – the ones that are washed clean in the main channel. They have an earthy, clean smell, and this paprika captures it. Not exactly Food Club!

We had a really great salad of parsley, cilantro, tomato and the mildest white onion, mixed with a little garlic and olive oil. Great, simple flavors. Dessert was a cream and egg custard, not nearly as sweet as Crme Brulee, made with half-and-half and mixed with stovetop caramel (sugar solution mixed continuously in a small skillet over an open flame until it 'caramelizes' or turns brown. This made for a darker, richer tasting custard.

Wine was good, not fantastic. Chilean wines are ridiculously cheap – the most expensive was vintage (2001?), had really complex flavor, and was something like $20. The name escapes me. I'll have to post another entry about the wines and the stuff I learned about buying Chilean wines, the various producing regions and D.O. ratings. Food-wine pairing was forced, nothing really went magnificently well with anything else, except for the white (which admittedly, goes well with everything). In fairness, I don't think the wine was really meant to go with the food anyway, since the wine tasting was focused on introducing us to varieties we can get at Kroger but aren't the mainstream Chilean producers.

All in all, a fun experience, and a good introduction to the Sur La Table courses. I definitely want to do one of these hands on courses again, and maybe try something similar at Central Market. Not for the uncomfortable in the kitchen, though – all of us, save for one, were experienced cooks, and we were expected to just kind of grab and go on the recipes, with the help of the assistants. The one novice ended up helping with the salad, and that's about it. Instructional hands on might be better if I book something with Jaime.

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