Where to stay in the Casablanca valley, Chile

la-casona-chile1

If you are looking for that perfect combination of comfort and experience then you must stay at La Casona, a cozy,  7 room boutique hotel set in the Chilean countryside which is part of the Matetic Vineyards. The property is beautiful, very green with flowers lining the different walk ways and the views of the vineyards and country side are spectacular.  la cascona pool table

There is cozy elegant living room (above) perfect to enjoy a glass of wine by the fire place or play a round of pool as you wait for dinner to be served.  They offer a variety of packages which include the hotel stay + different wine tour/tasting experience and some extra perks.

la cascona welcome drinksI definitely recommend the full board plan which included: our stay for 2 days/1 night, a welcome tasting of wine, cheeses, meat and nuts (see above), a very nice 3 course pairing dinner, buffet breakfast, a half day tour (you can choose biking or horseback riding) and a lunch at Equilibrio Restaurant their renown restaurant that specializes in traditional Chilean cuisine.

Equilibrio Restaurant

Equilibrio Restaurant

The rooms are very comfortable with king size beds, there is central heating (fantastic perk as it gets quite chilly at night!), L’Occitane bathroom amenities (always nice) and each room has a private terrace with table and chairs.  Feel like taking a dip? Head over the the stunning outdoor swimming pool.

pool at la casconaCheck back to learn more about the Matetic vineyard experience!

 La Casona, Fundo Rosario, Casablanca, Chile

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Guide to Wine Tasting in the Casablanca Valley, Chile (full overview!)

mapa ubicacion viñas

50 miles northwest of Santiago (a short 45 drive) you will enter the Casablanca wine valley where some of your favorite Chilean wines come from! There are lots of tours like Uncorked, chile-wine.com, or  you can do it yourself….. As you can see from the map above there are a number of vineyards all within short driving distances, most of these vineyards have restaurants, shops, tastings, tours and even accommodations.  We decided to stumble around wine country on our own guided tour and I am so glad we did! Check out our adventure through 4 vineyards below:

Emiliano

Emiliana

1. We started at Emiliana, the largest organic vineyard in South America, where 12 million liters of wine are produced a year.  There were a number of tour options including bike rides and picnics as well as tastings with cheeses, chocolates or a full pairing meal. We went for the tasting menu of whites and reds to be paired with cheeses and chocolates (there were 2 additional red wines included). First let me tell you a little bit about Emiliana. In 2001 they produced the first wine in all of South America to be organic and biodynamic; this means that there is an absence of agrochemicals (pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers), and biodiversity which consists of encouraging the development and coexistence of different species within the same physical space or habitat. This is achieved through the use of biological corridors and associated crops.
“Wines made from grapes grown according to organic and biodynamic agriculture are healthier than those made from conventionally grown grapes because they contain no residues. They are wines that are made a better way, with practices that protect both the environment and the people who work in the process. They are also much more personal, unique wines that have more character of their own with more expression of their origins… that is the expression of terroir.” - Alvaro Espinozapairing tasting
Wines: Rose Adobe Reserve (superb, light and refreshing), Viognier  (pertumey, fruity- not my favorite), Syrah Novas (smooth), Coyam (their signature wine, my new favorite!), Ge (iconic first biodynamic and organic wine in Latin America in 1993, Ge means earth in Greek).
Chocolates: organic chocolate from equator with cheery, ginger, blueberry and pepper.
Cheeses: herbed, gouda, nuts and pesto.
Pairing notes: Rose- good with all of the cheeses and most chocolates, Ge perfect with the nut cheese, pesto cheese cherry chocolate and blueberry chocolate.  Coyam great with pesto, cherry chocolate and blueberry chocolate.  Everything tasted awful when paired with ginger.
I highly recommend doing the full tasting, we absolutely loved the wines and now know what they pair perfectly with so we can do it on our own.  Personal Favorite!
the house
2. The House: Right next to Emiliano The House  offers a huge selection of wines, olive oils and cooking seasonings.  The store is pretty big with tons of different wines.  We tasted in a few, not formal tasting style (more like at a liquor store when someone is doing a promotion).  There is a nice restaurant with outdoor seating which has received rave reviews.indomita3.  Indomita: When you are driving along the highway you will see it in the distance like a castle with a huge “INDOMITA” sign (like the Hollywood sign).  It is situated up on top of a hill so the views are amazing! You can see all of wine country.
View from Indomita

View from Indomita

The restaurant is airy and beautiful, it feels very fancy / high end, so you might want to wear something a little nicer.  The dishes are on the heavy side but they were quite good. indomita 2incomintaThe steak with goat cheese gnocchi risotto was good but the sea food was unreal, definitely go with the risotto.

Vila Mar

Vila Mar

4. Vina MarThis vineyard and main mansion is absolutely stunning. Located 80 km west of Santiago and 18 km from the Pacific Ocean, it is oriented to produce complex and original wines, under a modern oenological approach.
The winery is a state-of-the-art, modern winemaking facility, with a total capacity of 2,5 million liters. Viñamar also has the production capacity for more than 300.000 champagne bottles per year, using modern or traditional Champ noise winemaking methods.

Traditional Chilean cuisine at Galindos

-Galindo-20000000004188845-500x375Open since 1968, located in the heart of Bellavista Galindo is one of the most well known establishments serving traditional Chilean dishes (the kind your grandma would make if you were Chilean) for the last 41 years! This bohemian style restaurant is casual with lots of outdoor seating (great for people watching as the street is quite lively) and a cozy indoors serving up outstanding national dishes, beers and drinks for lunch of dinner.  Start with the bread and salsa and a Pisco sour (you must try!).  2014-03-04 22.30.44

We tried the Cazuela de Pollo (above) which is made up of: chicken broth, chicken, corn on cob, pumpkin, green beans and rice…AMAZING. I know it looks and sounds like a weird combination of items tossed in a pot but it was very flavorful, highly recommend trying it.2014-03-04 22.30.50We also tried Porotos (above) which is a dish made of beans with mashed corn , pumpkin, basil, red pepper and casserole with beef. Sorry the picture doesn’t do it justice, it really was delicious.  In addition to these items Galindo also serves a variety of casseroles, meat and fish dishes as well as a nice selection of ceviches.2014-03-04 23.13.14Make sure you save room for dessert! The Celestino, a traditional Chilean dessert is: crepes with sweetened condensed milk boiled till it turns into caramel with ice cream..It was so amazing I am going to attempt making it at home (which should be interesting since I am not a great baker ;/)  All of the food above plus a Pisco sour and glass of wine cost US$40, tons of delicious food at a reasonable price.  If you are in Santiago and want to experience true traditional Chilean cooking head over to Galindos

Galindos, Dardignac 098, Santiago, Chile (Providencia)
# (02) 777 0116

Scenes of Santiago

Neptunes Fountain

Neptunes Fountain

St Lucia Park

St Lucia Park

Cathedral

Cathedral

There are stands all around Santiago serving up this drink which consists of barley, or something like it, at the bottom of a cup, and peach syrup. It is a little like mate but way sweeter and not nearly as refreshing.

There are stands all around Santiago serving up this drink which consists of barley, or something like it, at the bottom of a cup, and peach syrup. It is a little like mate but way sweeter and not nearly as refreshing.

Coquinaria:  cute restaurant with out door seating, yummy plates to share and market inside (picture a Peruvian Eataly)

Coquinaria: cute restaurant with out door seating, yummy plates to share and market inside (picture a Peruvian Eataly)

Best wine bar in Santiago: Bocanariz

2014-03-04 15.04.59I love wine bars, yes I am ‘that girl’ when we can’t finger out what to do for a night out my first suggestion is let’s go to a wine bar and figure out the rest from there.  Naturally, I wanted to visit the ‘Best Wine Bar in Santiago‘ while I was in town, Bocanariz Wine Bar, located in the heart of one of the most beautiful neighborhoods Lastarria. The street itself is very cute, so if it is nice out I recommend grabbing a seat outside or near one of the large windows; the restaurant area is a very airy.  Frequented by locals, tourists and wine lovers  there really is something for everyone.56-231843-4-bocanariz

The wine selection is extremely impressive with wines from all of Chile’s territories, styles, trends and diversity of wines, as Bocanariz believes it is important to showcase the grape varieties grown in Chile.  Their sommeliers have classified the wines according to style of wine that each one represents- some with great fruit expression, others more classic/complex,  wines from single vineyards, organic-biodynamic wines (the truest expression of a territory) and signature wines which are small handmade productions that represent the dream/vision of winemaker. There are 35 wines served by the glass, and many bottles to choose from.  If you are feeling more adventurous or in the mood to try a variety then I recommend having one of their ‘wine flights’  a tasting selection hosted by sommelier or visiting their underground cellar for an exclusive selection of vertical tasting.2014-03-04 15.04.48

Besides an overwhelming amount of Chilean wines Bocanariz is also an innovative restaurant where the cuisine has been designed to promote pairings with their extensive wine selection.  Finger foods, entrees, main courses, cheeses, meats and desserts can all be easily shared and every dish bursts with flavors created with the precise purpose of wine tasting. There is a nice selection of ceviche which was quite good and as you can see below the cheese and meet selection was delicious and paired nicely with the wines we tried.  FYI they offer a ‘festival of tapas’ for 159000 pecos which is prefect for 3-4 people to share. 2014-03-04 15.32.45

Before you leave check out Bocanariz Emporium their store selling more than 300 wines to take out and wine books, guides, cosmetics and accessories as well as teas, coffee blends and olive oils.

BOCANÁRIZ-  Jose Victorino Lastarria 276, Santiago-Centro Chile

Open Mon-sat 12-1230am, Sun 7-midnight

Where to stay in Santiago

W Hotel roof

Whether you are traveling for business or pleasure, the W Hotel in Santiago is the place to stay.  W Hotels are known around the world for their fresh design, trendy atmosphere and even in Chile you are able to frequent their popular Whisky Blue bar. The location is super convenient, right in the heart of the business center (making it the perfect business hotel) but also 3 blocks from 2 different subway lines making public transportation easily accessible.

2014-03-04 10.48.30There are of course several outstanding restaurants including Santiago’s famous Osaka which has been rated best restaurant in Chile by multiple publications (unfortunately didn’t get to try it on this trip- it’s closed on Sundays!).  Besides Osaka, the patio restaurant is quite nice serving a variety of delicious ceviches and other traditional Chilean treats, the buffet breakfast was very impressive but it was the wine and other amenities that caught my attention.2014-03-05 00.04.10 Check out this wine wall (above), there were 2 of them!! Next to the lounge is a beautiful white with dark wood wine tasting room (looks very fancy).  Taste a few wines before you head out to dinner, it was more fun then just grabbing a drink at the bar in the lounge. The pool (above) and sun deck area located on the top floor of the hotel is fabulous! The view is incredible (see first post) and the service was superb.  Of course I checked out the gym and was beyond impressed! It is actually a gym that people can pay to belong to so it was enormous; it had different weight areas, machines, rooms for classes and of course a full beautiful spa.  If you are thinking about visiting Santiago, check into the W for an amazing trip.

W Hotel,  Isidora Goyenechea 3000, Los Condes 7550653, Santiago, Chile

Back from my Chilean adventure

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First off, I apologize if I haven’t been posting as frequently, I am just getting back from 8 days in Chile and I am excited to tell you all about it!  We spend 4 days in Santiago the Chile’s bustling capital, 2 days exploring the Casablanca wine valley, and 3 days by the ocean in San Alfonso at the largest pool in the world! Get ready for  3 weeks awesome weeks of where to go, where to stay, what to do and where to eat in Chile!

Tapas in Copacabana

2014-02-23 21.45.45It’s Pre- Carnival Week so you know where I am…back in Rio!!!! To kick things off before heading to the First Bloco of 2014, my friends and I decided to try En Born, a cute tapas restaurant in Copacabana.  The restaurant was quite lively with people eating and drinking outside, it’s very ‘open’ and airy so you can see that the restaurant tries to create  a Catalan atmosphere with wood and light fixtures decorating the light brown wood walls.2014-02-23 21.45.55

The drink menu is quite extensive so I guarantee they will have whatever you are in the mood for, however I highly recommend you trying their sangria (above), they are famous for it!  The white sangria was absolutely delicious and refreshing not overly sweet.2014-02-23 21.55.34

The portions actually are traditional ‘tapas’ style (note: most tapas restaurants in Brazil serve larger than normal tapas portions), some were on the little smaller side which is probably why they have waiters carrying around trays of various tapas that you can select from.  Ladies, this is one of those places that you really have to be careful and pay attention to how many of these yummy looking ‘tapas items you are eating…. otherwise you could easily end up scarfing down the entire menu! (we all know that would be bad).  There is a large selection of fried items so watch out!  We started with the ‘fresco salad’; asparagus, tomato, mozzarella and vinegar (above).  2014-02-23 21.59.27

It was good but too small for 2 people to share.  Then I had the tomato, mozzarella and parma flat bread (above).  It was very tasty but a little salty. Overall the place is very cute, good for a date or with groups.  Let me know what you think of it!

En Born, Rua Bolívar – 17, Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro – RJ

Open Mon-Fri:5pm- 2am. Sat & Sun: 3pm to 2am.

Carnival is coming….Mangueira Samba school rehearsal

Mangueira

Carnival is one of the highlights about living in Brazil, from the costumes to the parties Brazil goes all out to celebrate.  I have been to the Sambadromo to watch the incredible parade of floats for the last 3 years in a row, last year I had even had the privilege to actually be part of the parade (read more HERE).  Clearly there is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes year round for the samba schools to prepare for the main event.  Visiting one of the samba schools and participating in the rehearsal is something everyone should do at least once! Among the larger schools that welcome visitors is Salgueiro and Mangueira.  These schools have their headquarters just outside the center of the city and on scheduled nights, the community and visitors are invited to join in the fun and take part in the singing and dancing until the wee hours of the morning for R$40.samba queen

As you can see from the pink and green colors we went to Mangueira.  Visiting a samba school is a great way to experience what everyone goes through to prepare for carnival.  They hand out song sheets, people of all ages are dancing and singing, everyone is truly happy and you can tell they are enjoying every minute of it.  The samba queens come out (above) and perform in the center of the dance floor (which is awesome cause you get to see their crazy sparkly costumes up close!) and then go up on the stage. The whole experience is very festive and you can’t help but smile and dance along.crowd

All eyes are on the Sambadrome for the four nights of competition to watch the tens of thousands of participants strut their stuff down the runway.  A few days after the winner is crowned preparations begin for the next year.