I tend to spend plane journeys drugged to my eyeballs, trying to forget my abject terror, but the final stages of the flight into Santiago were spectacular enough to enthuse even me. As we crossed the Andes, previously torpid passengers started moving to spare windows to take photos and video of the insanely beautiful views. Since the plane was half empty (hurrah for a whole row to sleep in!) I roamed up and down the aisles, taking pictures from both sides, and from the front and back of the plane. There are stunning mountains as far as the eye can see on all sides and you really get a sense of crossing into a whole other part of the world. Almost as soon as the mountains start to recede, we’re descending into Santiago.
We were met by Mr Lemur’s parents and driven to their beautiful house out in Pirque, just outside Santiago. It’s really the perfect transition from the rigours of travel into holiday head space: fresh air, vineyards all around, and a huge garden full of quince, apple and avocado trees. By the time we had downed a couple of pisco sours on the verandah, we were all feeling as relaxed as Maya here.
So, onto lunch! Lemur-in-law, knowing all the Chilean things we would be craving, had prepared a lunch made of up several of our favourites. We started with ostiones gratinado, which is local scallops grilled in a light lemon, butter and cheese sauce. The recipe was a bit of an experiment, she insisted, but it all tasted delicious and the scallops were tender.
Next up was empanadas, which are one of the key Chilean specialties. Chileans are very proud of their baked empanadas, which have a fine pastry and are filled with spiced beef, onions, black olives and hard-boiled egg. (I pick the eggs out.) These ones are made by a woman in Lemur-in-law’s village, who began making empanadas for friends and family and whose delicious pastries proved so popular that the business soon burgeoned into a full-time occupation. Behold the empanada in its full glory:
The empanadas are served with pebre, the Chilean version of salsa. It’s mild but the local tomatoes and ají chilies make it incredibly vibrant tasting. We also had a salad of lettuce, palta (avocado) and cucumber – very simple but everything is super local and the avocados in Chile are a whole other beast.
As the last crumbs of empanada pastry disappeared, we considered whether to spend the rest of the afternoon eating tea and cake on the verandah, or having a little nap..