Thursday, March 3, 2011

Rest Day

This morning we all piled into our two vans and drove for about 45 minutes to the Pacific port town of Puerto Montt. After a brief stop for picture taking from a vantage point high above the city we descended to the area where we would have lunch. We had almost an hour to roam around, take pictures, and purchase souvenirs from the myriad vendors of artisanal handicrafts.

The highlight was the fish market, a working market where small fishermen sell their catches to restaurant owners and others. I saw the congrio (conger eel) which I had eaten yesterday. They look very different hanging from a rack like sausage than they do nicely breaded and fried and served on a plate. Lots of workers were shucking and packing shellfish, especially sea urchins.

We had a very pleasant lunch in a small restaurant above the fish market itself. The height of the tourist season has passed, and we tend to eat early by Chilean standards, so we had the restaurant to ourselves for most of the lunch hour. The proprietor was extremely friendly, offering some complimentary salmon appetizers and delicious fish broth. We were invited to stand at the small kitchen area and watch the food preparation.

At our table, we share three main courses -- two "chupes" and some "loco" which is a very close relative of the abalone. The chupes were a sort of thick stew comprised of bread soaked in cream, lots of parmesan cheese, and seafood of your choosing. We had one with crab and one with shrimp. Both were delicious. The loco was also quite good, but one portion shared among four people was the right way to go.

Fishermen at Puerto Montt

Fishermen at Pueto Montt

Ashore at Pueto Montt

Preparing sea urchins

Crabmeat for the chupe
After lunch we returned to Puerto Varas for our "rest."  Attched are a few pictures from Puerto Montt.

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