Operation Chile – Day Two “Borago”

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One of the top 50 restaurants in the world Borago is a very forward thinking restaurant. They are foragers, seeking local ingredients as a way of life. They say “as one forages the other cooks”. The chef although cooking in a modern way uses only ingredients from Chile and has tremendous respect for the Mapuche, who are the original inhabitants of the area, using the foods they would have lived on as a major inspiration for his cooking. If you are any where near Santiago, Chile this is a must go!  Although you will need a open mind and be ready for a true Chilean experience.

Upon arrival the restaurant is modern, very busy, the aroma, very appealing of food but not always recognizable. We are greeted warmly and offered a small snack before being seated.  What ever they said the snack was, I have no idea, but it was good.

We had a choice of a six course or a nine course “Endemica” Which is a journey across Chile. What was to follow was about nine courses not including what they call “snacks” which appear randomly in between courses, seemingly at the whim of the kitchen.

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Berlin De Pate’

Fermented and Raw Pewen, Pebre of Toasted Flower Marraqueta

Sea Urchin, Green Salsa of Chia Seeds

This was a bit of a first course. The sea urchin was very fresh and the most surprising part of the dish was the green chia seed salsa. Slightly chilled and served underneath the sea urchin which was perched on a unique gray cracker, the chia seed salsa was incredibly fresh with just the right acidity. A bit of the chia salsa on the sea urchin was a great balance. Were we supposed to combine the two? No idea, but I’m glad I did!

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Crudo of Deer from Valdivia, Locos Mayo

Again very fresh and flavorful. Not only a unique presentation but the venison had a great “pop” of lemon.  Pictured in the back of the photo is the restaurants take on the famous Chilean drink “Pisco Sour”.

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Cold Pulmay, Jevia from Central Coast and Apples

Tasty and again very fresh, but a bit too tart.  I think this was a cold cuttlefish stew with apples.

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Chupe of Mushrooms from Quintay and Salad of Plants from the Shore

The stand out dish of the night! Served in a bowl that is wrapped like a package in what appeared to be a burlap type of blanket “infused with the essence of the earth”. Cooks deliver the dish and unfold the package, Immediately an olfactory explosion which does indeed completely smell of the earth, like being in a cave of dirt and mushrooms. Sounds questionable? It’s not. Tasting the Foraged Mushroom Chupe and salad while being surrounded by the aroma of the earth made for one of the best courses I have had, here or anywhere else. A very forward thinking take Chupe, a warm seafood dish often served here in the winter.

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Skins of Piure and Skins of Tangerines

Piure is a native seafood which lives in the rocks, it is not beloved by the Chileans. In this case the skin of the Piure, raw I believe, is stuffed with tangerine skins. . . The Piure is not beloved by me either. A very interesting dish to be sure, however it’s a challenge to love this. One thing to note this dish was the first of the “Sequence of Rocks”

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Rock Puree served with Rock Broth (Rock Broth poured tableside and not pictured)

I truly have no idea what this was, tasted a bit like a flavorful black bean puree in a “soy type broth” with some pickles. The unique thing the bean like substance was baked around a rock which you had to scrape off with a spoon. Very earthy and had a good feeling of umami. Enjoyable! Always nice while visiting another country to scrape a delicious but unidentified substance off a hot rock. Earthy broth. . . bonus!

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Conger Eel on the first Sea Stars of the Season

Perfectly cooked conger eel seemed to be brushed with a local honey and seasoned well. Then baked, the honey formed a crust which was perfect to adhere a lot of sea stars. Sea stars being little flowers that are around once a year for a few weeks. The cook delivering this dish was very excited about the flowers, and I mean excited. He had been waiting all year. The flowers were very good and being locally foraged by the cooks, even cooler. I must say however the conge eel stole the show. I would say this dish ended the “sequence of the rocks”.

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Free Range Veal and Flower from Trees of Early Spring

Very tender veal cooked in local cow’s milk. The flowers were foraged, again by the cooks, from around the city of Santiago. Also a surprise on this dish, they were able to make yogurt from 100% almond milk, simply by introducing the bacteria and keeping it at the proper temperature.

 

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This was a off menu treat!  A ice cream treat that tasted just like chocolate but was made from a local nut our seed.  There is also a dehydrated carrot preparation hanging from the branches, if you look closely.  This was not only fascination but really full of flavor

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Ulpo of Espino and Mushroom Ice Cream

Inside the pod, the Ulpo,  a unique sweet make with toasted flour and milk, a traditional dish prepared for children, it’s salty and toasty. We are told to pair it with the mushroom ice cream but not before being quizzed by the waiter on the flavor of the ice cream. It was tough to come up with the flavor but once we got it! The combination of the toasty and salty flour with the beautifully rustic flavor of the ice cream was perfect. One of the best dishes of the night.

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Tres Leches: Sheeps Milk, Goats Milk and Cows Milk

A sheeps milk ice cream encased in a local berry gel, goats milk stuffed berries and cows milk powder

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Salad of Rica Rica, Cenizo, and Cucumber

Explosion of unidentified flavors at first bite. It’s a salad of local leaves and cucumber. Here is the part that will make your mind explode. The salad is all foraged near or on a specific tree. The ice cream is made from a parasite which grows on that tree! In summary “Parasite Ice Cream Salad” is a must have!

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Liquid Nitrogen Meringues – A perfect way to end a meal! A minty – eucalyptus attack on the senses!

The Chef in his upstairs lab / think tank!

It was a great end of the evening to be able to see the upstairs area where the chefs seem to brainstorm, work on dishes, theorize, and I would imagine, regroup after a long service.

Hearing Chef Rodolfo Junto’s passion about the restaurant,  Chile, and his philosophy about food made a fantastic meal, service experience and evening even better.

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