The Chilean Desert is Fattening

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Day 365: San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

Dining at Tierra Atacama is a full-on experience of both modern and traditional Chilean food. While breakfast is a buffet to swoon over with more options than a lumberjack could tackle I found myself eating light so that I’d have room for lunch and dinner.

And while eating alone can be an erormous hurdle for some, I’ve eaten alone so many times this year that I don’t think twice about it.

The wait and bar staff are so friendly, after one day they remembered what wine I liked and would ask about my day. Other guests would wonder why the crazy girl takes photos of all her food and lean in to start a conversation.

Eating was always a highlight of the day.

And while I didn’t love everything, it was because some of the dishes were so ravishing, it made others look like Plain Janes – sorry curried fish you were just good and that doesn’t cut it here.

It was hard to choose, but I wanted to share with you my favourite meals from the nearly 20 dishes I devoured.

 

Cadillo de CongrioCaldillo de congrio, traditional to the area, also known as king crab fish soup is the leading contender for the best dish and one of the prettiest to photograph.

 

Chilean Crab pie

Chile doesn’t seem to have much of a food culture and Chileans have a difficult time suggesting typical food to try but pastel de jaiba or crab pie is one of the few Chilean traditional dishes that people recommend and it was delicious.

 

Sauteed calamari salad with yogurt and dill dressing

I’m really fussy about calamari and hesitated to order it. Most people don’t know this but calamari is only rubbery because the kitchen did not cook it at high enough heat.

Here the grilled calamari salad with yogurt and dill was really tender and delicious.

 

Beef on a bed of pesto mashed potatoes

The chefs here really know how to cook meat and every time it was delicious. My first experience was beef on a bed of pesto mashed potatoes and it was so tender.

I had filet of ostrich another night and it was incredible.

 

Broiled swordfish served with wild rice and seafood

Broiled swordfish with wild rice and seafood was so light and perfect for a lunch in the hot desert weather.

Berry Almond dessert

I don’t have much of a sweet tooth so I was always unsure what to order for dessert but I loved how the waiters were quick to suggest their favourite.

I hate it when waiters say well it depends on what you like – just tell me what YOU like. They never led me astray, especially with this berry almond pie with homemade ice cream.

 

chocolate mousse

The chocolate mouse was so amazing I turned to the table beside me, still on their entrees, to insist they order it.

 

pisco rica

I’m a huge fan of regular pisco sour and maracuya pisco sour. Suggested by my tour guide Cristobal and explained by my waiter Victor, rica is a local herb native to the area that soothes stomach ailments, it’s also infused into pisco and used as a unique cocktail.

I never eat three courses for lunch and dinner but the food is too delicious to turn down. And while I can feel my waistline expanding and my face rounding, it’s in a delightful way that I will cherish, especially next week when I’m back to reality.

 

Full disclosure: Tierra Atacama hosted me at their resort for 4 days but did not ask me to write about my gluttonous stay or to eat dessert at every meal.

Join the Conversation

  1. Katherina says:

    I’m jealous (AND hungry!).

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Not a good combination 🙁

  2. I love this post. LOVE! Gorgeous photos from a country not really known internationally for its food. You certainly did it justice! Happy anniversary of travel and I’m glad you got to spend part of your month in the lap of luxury. J.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Oh I’m sure next year’s anniversary will be such a let down.

  3. Angie Orth says:

    Ok, so I am adding Chile to the list of destinations for the fall… will be using this post as a menu guide. Thanks!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I highly recommend Northern Chile, it’s truly beautiful. Also check out Tierra Atacama, they have an all inclusive option that is pretty sweet.

  4. Can you please stop posting gorgeous photos of food that looks equally delicious? It makes us hungry and depressed to not be in an exotic place tasting all those meals! Thanks 🙂

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I will try to eat something gross, which won’t be too hard as the food outside the resort is pretty meh.

  5. Christine says:

    I’m so hungry now! Looks amazing.

  6. I’m so jealous haha.

    Eating is one of the best parts of travelling (that’s why I still love to travel with my parents 😉 haha

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It is THE best part of traveling!

  7. Glen Abbott says:

    Great food photographs — I’ve found it’s difficult sometimes to photograph food because the lighting in restaurants is not great.
    (also, you’re making me hungry!)

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Tierra Atacama is walled with windows so it’s easy during the day and at night the lighting is pretty good.
      But I’m not beyond taking a plate of food outside to get a good shot.

  8. Beautiful, beautiful photos! Now I have to go have a snack. (Did you forget an extra “s” in your title?)

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Hehe no, the dessert I ate was in the Chilean desert – the land of the fattening 🙂

  9. Omigod. I think I just licked my computer screen.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Hope it tasted good.

  10. Jen Laceda says:

    You ate all that food?!? I would, too! I LOVE food too much to pass them up! Although all the dishes look lovely, you really got me at “de congrio”! Miam-miam-miam! I agree with Sally above. I’m just about to lick my screen here at work. Shhh…instead of working, I’m looking thru blogs 🙂

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Oh I ate everything they offered, how could I turn it down?

  11. What a terrible post to read before lunch. Anything I scrounge up will look sad in comparison.

    Interesting tip about the rubbery calamari.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      A lot of people think calamari is rubbery because they ate it once at a bad place, they just need to try it again.

  12. Gillian @OneGiantStep says:

    I found myself surprised at the level of sophistication of Chilean food. We didn’t stay at such a place but we did eat some wonderful meals. Cheers!

  13. Claire (Travel Funny Travel Light) says:

    That’s pretty awesome you got the hook-up at the resort!

  14. Gareth Leonard says:

    I want to bury my face in those pesto mashed potatoes!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I want to take a photo of that.

  15. Dani | Globetrottergirls says:

    The pictures look amazing – this food is totally worth putting on a few pounds 🙂

    1. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures says:

      Agree 110%!!!

    2. Ayngelina Author says:

      It was indeed.

  16. Dalene - Hecktic Travels says:

    Our month in Chile had to be some of the worst food we ate in all of South America – flavorless! At one restaurant Pete even sent pizza back. How badly do you have to screw up pizza to have it sent back!!

    But. Apparently we were just eating at the wrong places!

    They do have a knack for good desserts though. Sometimes that is all we would have for dinner there.

    1. Have to comment on this since I just said that Chile does in fact have good food – it also has some really awful food. It’s very much a case of knowing where to go as some restaurants are really participating in a gastronomic revival while others are still serving slop they could get away with 10 years ago when the average Chilean didn’t have the exposure to better options through either travel or diversity within Chile itself.

      1. Ayngelina Author says:

        Emily you will be my restaurant guide in Santiago. I’m sure being next to Peru doesn’t help either.

  17. Adrienne @Shenventure says:

    Wow, these dishes look divine! Great compositions. Gives me ideas to try. I take photos of all my food too. I LOVE to eat…

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      At first I felt strange photographing all my food but I quickly got over the initial shyness as it’s often my best memory.

  18. It all looks so good! I would argue that Chile does have a food culture – more and more over the past few years – but it also has a marketing problem. I could give you a laundry list of typical dishes, but it’s hard to sum up the cuisine overall in a nice little soundbite.

  19. How many days were you at Tierra Atacama? How many dishes did you try? I’m not judging. I’m impressed!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      3.5 days and other than breakfast I had three course lunches and dinners – so 3 courses x 2 meals x3 days + 1 lunch = 19 meals. Or 10 pounds.

  20. Migrationology says:

    I would love to gain some weight partaking of these luscious desert desserts!

    1. Christy @ Technosyncratic says:

      Haha, me too! I’ll gain ten pounds gladly if this is how I get to do it. 😉

      1. Ayngelina Author says:

        I do not regret one single pound 🙂

    2. Ayngelina Author says:

      Decadent desserts in the desert? Delicious.

  21. I have been craving mashed potatoes like crazy and that picture nearly killed me. I think that food is so important when it comes to experiencing a place. You can play “catch up” with smaller portions later. 😛

  22. Debbie Beardsley says:

    You had me with the pesto mashed potatoes! Everything looked simply marvelous. . . I think I gained weight looking at the pictures 🙂

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I’ve also made a mental note to make some pesto mashed potatoes when I return to Canada, so delicious.

      1. I am holding you to that!

  23. OMG YUM!! We must have had some good luck in Chile judging by the comments. We had some great food here, particularly in Santiago and Valparaiso.

    Ayngelina, can I ask what type of camera you use for these shots? Your food shots are absolutely amazing!!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I have a 50mm 1.4 on my Canon 40D and it’s the lens that does that work. But some of them are also my Sony Cybershot on the food setting.

  24. I am not a food connoisseur and it’s not something that is that important to me when I travel. However, this looks delicious and you did a great job of capturing all these delicious things to eat and drink! I’d love to try the swordfish!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      The swordfish was definitely a highlight, you’d love it.

  25. fooddreamer says:

    Everything looks amazing…so much for Chile not having it’s own regional cuisine!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It was fantastic and I’m still working off the pounds!

  26. I get fussy about calamari too! This looks lovely. PS, first time to your blog, LOVE the title. 🙂

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Thanks and welcome to the blog, hope you come back!

  27. Omigod, that looks foodgasmic!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Thanks Roy, by the way your latest post title is a bit racy, no?

  28. I’d give my right arm to be there eating all that deliciousness right now! Chilean “cooking” can often leave something to be desired, but the fruit, vegetables and meat is as fresh as you’ll ever get. Helped me to appreciate simple ingredients and realize how over-salted and loaded with preservatives our food in the US is (well already knew it, but after Chile could really taste it)!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Fruits are delicious but you are right it can be over-salted.

  29. Yummy…love the photos…

  30. Nomadic Chick says:

    How do you best shoot food? You make it look so rich and inviting. Sometimes food can look so 2 dimensional.

    I’m not a big dessert person either, but would so eat mousse. Mmmmmm… I just tried a chocolate lassi, so effing good.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      You know Jeannie a lot of people want to know tricks but it’s really all about natural light, once you have that the rest is easy.

  31. I can see your pount. Even I would have thrown the calorie counting out the window confronted with a choice like this.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I can always run laps next week!

  32. Ummm I am a bit jealous, I have not had any food that looks liek that on my trip…lol, BUT i have had some amazing food anyway. Man eating while traveling is what is going to kill us…lol!!!

  33. Rob Bloggeries says:

    Travel Food Porn. I am adding this as a 3 word entry would be undignified. Seriously though, looks delicious and I want to visit that resort.

  34. Oh my gosh, I think my computer’s about to break down from how much I’m drooling. Wow. Absolutely delicious looking.

    I love that people feel sorry for you because you take pictures of your food and start conversations with you. Do they think all that time alone has frazzled your brain? Hahaha.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I think some people feel sorry for me and others wonder what is wrong with me 🙂

  35. Jilianne @ Cotswolds Cottages says:

    I bet my tummy won’t be so flat when I started to eat some of those! I wish the food is not very expensive in Chile, or is it?

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It is generally expensive although at Tierra Atacama it’s part of an all-inclusive package. I’ve stayed at all-inclusive resorts in the Dominican Republic but the food was never as good as this.

  36. The Dropout says:

    That looks FABULOUS! I want to go to Tierra Atacama. I want to LIVE there!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I want to live there too. We’d be very happy.

  37. Alessandra says:

    I love this post, but I am actually SHOCKED that there are Chileans that had trouble telling you what typical Chilean dishes are.

    Every Chilean I meet wants to talk to me about Chilean food. They want to know if I like pastel de choclo, pastel de jaivas, empanadas, pisco, choripan, paila marina – one time I had a cab driver that just rattled off names of Chilean food and wanted me to answer “yes” or “no” if I liked it or not.

    Looks like you were spot on wherever you ate – everything looks DELICIOUS! Safe travels!!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Most said sandwiches, it was really peculiar coming from Peru. I need to meet your cab driver.

  38. Lindsay aka @_thetraveller_ says:

    The food looks so pretty I don’t know if I could ruin it by actually eating it…. haha ya right! It would be gone in seconds.

  39. I’m glad you are enjoying you adventure through food. I approve whole-heartedly (stomachly?)

    Keep on keeping on!

    p.s. The Caldillo de congrio looks amazing!

  40. Mmmmm, so hungry reading this. Good for you for being so adventurous when it comes to food, I always end up eating the same few dishes. The crab pie looks especially delicious and no I did not know that about calamari, maybe because I’ve only ever eaten the rubbery stuff. Good tip.

  41. Wow! Every one of those dishes look amazing (and the photos are great too!). Some friends of mine came back recently from Chile, although a lot further south, and had good experiences with food too. They want me to go back with them next year, so your post has added fuel to my desire!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I’d love to hear what your friends ate. I’m desperate to shed this “we’re not a food culture” myth.

      1. Off the top of my head they talked about seafood. They certainly had the crab pie, and loved it. They also mentioned mussels being much bigger and tastier than the ones we get here. They went over for a wedding, and the wedding breakfast was a pig roast, which was, apparently, amazing.

        1. Ayngelina Author says:

          I can vouch for the crab pie, absolutely delicious!

  42. I have sweet tooth and firmly believe that desert should be served first.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I like your thinking Grace.

    2. If the deserts are on the main menu, I always choose that first and then work backwards to decide what I’m having for main course & starter, so I know I always have room :=)

  43. The King Crab fish soup looks amazing, as does that Chocolate Mousse and the Berry almond dessert. Yum. You took great photos!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      The fish soup is definitely a strong contender for the best thing I ate there.

  44. adventureswithben says:

    How do you get your food photos to look so good? Mine are never that sharp.

  45. Seattle Dredge says:

    Ohh noo, why are you doing this to me! haha great post, those images are killing me!
    Congrats on the day 365 :]
    Coming back to Toronto soon??

  46. All that food looks so Duh-licious!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      You have no idea.

  47. Justin Hamlin says:

    It’s 4:30pm EST here in the states, I am already hungry for dinner, and you go and do this to me? OYE, those look AMAZING.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      The memories make me hungry too.

  48. Such a beautiful post, look at those beautiful food shot taken by you. It would be a highlight for me to have those food too. Makes me hungry now.

  49. Drooling here!

  50. since when does the desert grow dessert?

    i was not aware that dry arid regions of land were known for their fattening qualities.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      You would be surprised as to how fattening they can be!

  51. Mmmmmmmmmm, dear God, my stomach just let out the loudest growl of the century!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Ha! sorry 🙂

  52. I am salivating reasy this post and ogling over those pictures. I want some of that beef fillet! Oh I haven’t had a good steak in a long time! Thanks Agngelina…now I will be thinking about food all day. Off to the supermarket….it looks like it is going to be a cooking day now! 😉

  53. Erin in Costa Rica says:

    You are killing me with these posts from Tierra Atacama – especially the food, it looks soooo yummy 🙂

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I won’t lie. It was really divine.

  54. Love.this.post.

  55. I never thought of pesto mashed potatoes. I just found a new dish.

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