Montreal Bagels…in Santiago

My family would agree that I’ve been known to love a good bagel. Starting in highschool when the first “Canadian Bagel” opened up in Belleville, my love affair continued when I discovered the real bagel when I moved to Westmount (in Montreal) in the early 2000s. On the walk to work I’d pick up a fresh bagel every morning. Dangerous things, those bagels.

For Emily it all kicked off in Melbourne, when we’d go for morning walks to the closest Glicks on Balaclava Rd, in St Kilda East.  While Glick’s Australian bagels really don’t compare to the real Montreal Bagels, they did have a mean Halal bread.  I miss those days of fantastic Jewish bakeries.

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Now, alas, here in Providencia I’ve rediscovered montreal bagels again!  One of the things I will miss the most about living in Providencia (we’re just about to move to Vitacura, another area of Santiago) is, the little shop called Montreal Bagels.  A friend of mine’s father opened up this little bagel shop, and they’re absolutely fantastic (not to mention, the owner Mark is a great guy and tour guide!).  Since we’ve arrived, I’m pretty sure (and slightly embarrassed to admit) that the three of us have gone through 50 bagels…at least.  The Montreal Bagel shop is located in Nunoa, a trendy little area of Santiago, and offers: sesame, cinnamon, plain, poppy seed, everything, onion, and a house recipe of caramelised cranberry bagels. You cant eat-in, it’s for take out only – a pure bakery. The shop opens its doors at 10am, and the bakers now recognise my car parked outside desperately awaiting the doors to roll up.

While as of tomorrow it will no longer be at our doorstop, we’ll continue to make the trip in to re-stock the freezer on a regular basis. Nothing like a hot fresh bagel…pure, delicious carbs.

IMG_3040Montreal Bagels

First winery vist: Casas del Bosque

This weekend we decided to get out of the city for the first time. Until now, it’s seemed a bit daunting…and there has always been too much to do with the move. But, this Sunday morning at 9am we decided we needed out. And what better place to go but a winery.

My fellow winos out there will know that Chile is known for wine. This lucky wino is happy to be living a drive away from some good ones – a selling point Achim used to get me to part with my Melbourne. One that had a few good reviews, and was only around an hour from Santiago is this one, Casas del Bosque.

The drive out was gorgeous – through the rolling mountains. Em wasn’t as impressed and took the chance for a nap.

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napping – pram within reach

Along the drive

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Along the drive

The Winery

Casas del Bosque has over 232 hectares of vines, and makes around 90,000 cases per year (most of it exported). So it’s a boutique-type of winery. Having moved here from Melbourne, we assumed that we’d be able to do some tastings easily, but unfortunately you actually have to go sit around a table and do the tasting the ‘proper’ way (for about $12), which takes a bit of time.  Normally that would be great, but I’m not sure anyone around that table would have liked to hear what Em had to say about the wines (most likely: SWIIIINNNGGGGSSS MOOOMMMYYY).  So no tasting for us..dissappointment.

They also had tours of the winery and lots of other little activities we decided against. But I’m sure it’ll be fun one day down the track. All things you had to pay for – even the walking tour, which is a bit different from Australian wineries. They did, however, have a little playground with swings (and you didn’t have to pay for it!) – score.

We had a fantastic lunch, the food was excellent, and the restaurant was child-friendly:  they had a high-chair, they brought over some coloured pencils for Emily, and they also had a little kids-menu (burger, fries, cupcake…) which was great. As per usual, we ordered immediately, ate quickly, and I took Em back out to the swings while Achim paid the bill. Such is life. Of course, before playground duty, I had time to sample the Chardonnay, and could have easily had a second.  Poor Achim (the driver of the day) didn’t get to have  wine with lunch, as in Chile the alcohol tolerance is ZERO. Zero as in, if you have half-a-glass your licence will be revoked. Ouch.

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Their least expensive was around $9 for a bottle, and their premiums were around $30; not bad. So we stocked up on a few of their wines to try at home. If we couldn’t do the tasting there we might as well give it a go at home. Not all at once, of course. Well, maybe.

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A few shots from the day:

Casa del Bosque

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Strolling around the gardens

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Loving the swings

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A very healthy lunch. Whatever keeps her calm so we don’t have to do emergency-exit-tantrum-bolt.

Love a child-friendly restaurant, WITH good food.

Found: Coffee!

While I’m not originally from Melbourne, I’d say my coffee addiction definitely comes from living in Melbourne. I’ll be honest: I’m in currently in full withdrawal for a soy latte. We’re talking headaches, sweating, grouchy, don’t-offer-me-nescafe-or-you-will-get-a-slap, desperate for coffee. It’s not just about the coffee of course, there’s something about the atmosphere of a good cafe in Melbourne that I crave.  Could also be that I had friends to go to these cafes with at one point in my life. I now have a toddler to drag there. She’s definitely cute, but not such great conversation.

So we’ve been on a mission to find good cafes in Santiago since we’ve arrived.   In the past few weeks I’ve tried 6 cafes, but so far only these two make the cut to be recommended –  they whisk me back to Melbourne both in atmosphere and in taste. Of course, I haven’t found soy lattes, which is a big disappointment – but I’m trying to wean myself onto cow’s milk again. Yuck.

1. Sabores de Buenos Aires ( Republica de Cuba, Providencia)

Cute little cafe tucked away off the main drag. The coffee isn’t as strong as you’d get in Melbourne (I like that, Achim doesn’t), but they offer lots of options: cappuccino, latte, and several others I wont understand until I learn Spanish.  You sit on the terrace under the trees, listening to chilled-out South American lounge music. They have lots of little sweet things to eat, sandwiches, etc.  It seems pretty un-touristy – mostly locals, as it’s not so easy to find and not close to any major shopping area. Also it is very child friendly – every time we go there are a few kids, and nobody minds at all having a few little-ones running around. They also welcome dogs and put out a little drinking bowl for them. Love it. Furthermore, the staff are always friendly, and they have no hesitation to make a “baby-chino” for Em (who starts calling out for it when she sees a cafe, poor thing knows the drill). Seem to be the only cafe who can do just milk-foam, not a cup of hot milk for her. We go back often.

Prices:  1 croissant, 1 latte, 1 baby-chino = around $5

Sabor de Buenos AiresCoffee timeBaby Chino

2. Cafe Wonderful (Lastarria, and also in El Golf) 

This cafe is decorated just like a more modern Melbourne cafe – slate chalkboards, high ceilings, exposed walls, glass showcase displaying tasty desserts and sandwiches. The cafe on Lastarria is even home to an old arty theatre. It’s in the more touristy region of Santiago, but felt like the clientele was a mix of both locals and tourists with their guidebooks (yup, I fit into the tourist classification).  The latte below was tasty – very smooth. A little higher milk to coffee ratio than I’m used to, so again it didn’t taste too strong (which I liked!). Poor Em; they didn’t really get the concept of the baby-chino (just milk-foam), but they did attempt and brought her some warm milk which was nice. Friendly smiley staff.

Coffee price:  1 latte = around $3

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There are definitely more to come over the next few weeks as I drive around randomly hunting for my next shot of caffeine!  Yes, in case you wondered,  I do have time on my hands these days.

Spoon, meet your new best friend

Some of you know that the spoon is my favourite utensil. The spoon is a critical aid for a seasoned comfort-eater.  Without the spoon, you’d not be able to enjoy things like a nice warm bowl of homemade soup or chili on a cold day.  You’d also not be able to enjoy a tub of ice cream, or a jar of peanut butter or nutella on a bad day.

Well, my spoon has found a new best friend: Dulce de Leche (in Chile it’s called Manjar). This, my friends, is a dangerous discovery. South Americans certainly stumbled across something fantastic with this invention.  It’s a bit like a thick, spreadable caramel sauce – sweet and rich. Wikipedia tells me that this fine substance “is a confection prepared by slowly heating sweetened milk to create a product that derives its taste from caramelised sugar”.  Oh yes, caramelised sugar. No brand seems to taste the same, so one must take-one-for-the-team and work through the various options.

It’s intended to be spread on bread, muffins or croissants, used as a sauce, etc.  Only the most reckless sugar addicts would attack this with a spoon. But indeed, it hits the spot when you’re having one of ‘those’ days. I’m (ahem, my waistline is) glad I didn’t discover this years ago. If you’re looking for a good reason to workout, this is IT!

ManjarDulce de leche