Thursday, January 13, 2011

A glimpse into Colchagua´s gastronomy

El Club Social is the center of Santa Cruz´s gastronomical world. Tortillas de porotos verdes (green bean omelettes,) empanadas de queso (cheese empanadas,) lengua a la plancha (grilled tongue,) choclo (corn,) and a myriad of other traditional Chilean dishes can be had al fresco under the patio covered with grapevines that block the strong summer sun. And a bottle of wine from the Colchagua Valley compliments these dishes perfectly.

In many ways, the Plaza de Armas, on which el Club Social is located, is the heart of Santa Cruz. The Hotel Santa Cruz Plaza is adjacent to the Club Social, but the plaza itself buzzes with activity--children playing alongside the small fountain, locals gossiping among themselves, people eating pistacchio ice cream or eating maní (peanuts) or simply relaxing after sunset.

The earthquake that shook Central Chile last February largely destroyed the church that had stood along the south side of the plaza. Hotel Santa Cruz Plaza itself sustained serious damage. The Montgras vineyard outside Santa Cruz lost hundreds of thousands of gallons of wine because the earthquake topped the tanks in which it had been stored. And several vacant lots that once contained homes dot the road leading into Santa Cruz.

(I wrote this blog on the first anniversary of the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that killed more than 200,000 people in the Haitian capital and in surrounding areas. Port-au-Prince and environs remain in ruins. In comparison, the earthquake that struck off the Central Chilean coast on Feb. 27, 2010, was 8.8 on the Richter scale. The tremor and subsequent tsunami killed more than 500 people, but one astute traveler pointed out there are no blue tarps in sight here in Chile.)

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