We left the Mare Australis at Punta Arenas – the primary Chilean port in Patagonia and a major embarkation point for expeditions to Antarctica. Not one of the most charming or interesting cities, although in fairness there is a volatile history of wool market booms, and 2 family magnates who built mansions and monuments as the strove for primacy…only to eventually inter marry! But Liz came through – she found the best restaurant in town….and one of the best on our trip.
Restaurant La Luna – not pretentious, actually a really good bar (the crew from our ship was there having their 4 hour break). We had 3 dishes – all good and one of which was epic.
Crab salad – the picture says it all – mounds of fresh, perfectly shelled king crab. Liz has decided that there is no limit to how much crab she can eat.
Followed up with scallops poached with hot peppers – we needed a flavour hit as cruise food does tend to the bland.
And then the masterpiece – Crab Chupe. Chupe is a standard Chilean dish (fish or shellfish and cheese and breadcrumbs with a mayo like sauce – baked in a crock). Simple, but incredibly good – we eat it often. Luna’s is the best – 90% crab, great flavour, a marvelous thick crust of molten cheese brule. Like all cuisine the best is the simplest. We’d travel a long way for more La Luna chupe with a loaf of good bread and some local beer. The German heritage guarantees great beer with the unfortunate name of “Kuntsman”
It was one of the best meals we’ve had in a long, long time – simple, perfect ingredients well prepared, great service and a very reasonable price….sadly they are literally at the end of the world. Chupe could become the next North American bar food craze after natchos and Thai.
We flew to Puerto Montt for a few days – ostensibly for administrative purposes; do some laundry, pick up the rental car, sleep later than 6:30am after those early morning zodiac excursions. Liz found a great hotel – notable for having the best showers in Chile (infinite amounts of hot water, needle sharp wide dispersion nozzles, good soap, curtain that stays in the bath, towels you can dissolve into, 3 hour turnaround for laundry) and one of our more memorable culinary experiences.
We’ve eaten at many 3 stars, we travel hundreds of miles to taste some upcoming chef’s cuisine, we subscribe to too many food magazines and web sites….but we had never experienced Puerto Montt and its market, Angelmo. Imagine a large market with a lot of stalls – but here the stall was a little dining room as shown below – there are dozens of these rooms:
Outside each room is a refrigerated cooler with esoteric ingredients and a lady or two with a propane fired wok or grill or broiler. You pick what you want – they cook it to order. Pictures do not do it justice. Interestingly each location does not have a name, just a number – in fact there are numbered restaurants all over town – we’ve considered a return visit to work through all the numbers!
We had lunch at the restaurant below – sat at the right outside balcony table (there were a dozen numbered restaurants in this building alone).
Puerto Montt is a cornucopia of dining options. If we added up all the numbered locations we’d probably have more restaurants/capita than Paris!
Fueling this dining Eldorado is a wonderful fish and vegetable market – filled with many things we’ve never seen before. Note the different sea weeds, dried and smoked shellfish, esoteric vegetables and mussels the size of your fist.