Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Sprummer (Virtual) Vacacay: Patagonia!

Art courtesy of the ninjinsky!
The first stop on our virtual vacation was Patagonia! Patagonia is a large, rugged, wild region of South America, split between Chile and Argentina. We're particularly fond of such places, full of mountains and rivers and lakes and forests. It's unlikely that we'll get down there anytime soon, so this was an easy selection for our first destination.


We watched several things to get some exposure to Patagonia. All of them were available in a streaming format, either Amazon, Youtube, or Netflix. I encourage you to check a few of them out if you're interested in the area.

Planet Patagonia - Beauty of Nature with Relaxing Music (Time Lapse): Available on Amazon Prime Video, this is a 10-minute video that is, as it states in the title, a series of time lapse photography of various scenes around Patagonia. If you are only in it for the majesty and don't have a lot of time, this is the video for you. We used it to prime our nature-loving senses in case the next video turned out to be a failure.

Unbounded: Also available on Amazon Prime Video, this documentary only has 23 reviews and a 3.5 star rating. It also rates 6.9 on IMDB. As such, I was skeptical as to the quality, but on watching it, found that I could overlook the sins of the filmmakers in favor of admiring their adventurous (although naive, to say the least) spirit. The film was made by a group of four 20-somethings (actually, they were 22, 22, 23, and 23, I think). Almost completely lacking in experience and woefully unprepared, they recklessly embark on a four-month-long trek down the Greater Patagonian Trail. If you're an experienced outdoors-y type, you might find yourself cringing quite a bit. I don't claim to be very experienced, and even *I* knew they were being needlessly foolish at times. Still, they wanted to do something, and they figured out how to do it. They managed to get some pretty interesting stories about people that they met along the way, and the footage was worth looking at. So... I enjoyed this documentary and recommend watching it, but admit that not everyone will like it.

On Route 7 Into the Heart of Patagonia: Available on Youtube, this documentary takes a road trip down the Carretera Austral. There's still plenty of scenery in this one, but it's not the main focus. With several stops along the way to visit with people involved in the original construction of the road to people whose lives are changing because of it, the documentary is very well done and extremely informative. Check this one out if you're interested in taking a journey through Chilean Patagonia via the only thoroughfare available. This one also has some spectacular footage of a glacier and an erupting volcano!

Chef's Table: Francis Mallmann: After dinner, we decided to end the day by re-watching Episode 3 from the first season of Chef's Table, on Netflix. Francis Mallmann is a wonderfully talented chef living on a tiny island in the middle of a lake in Argentinian Patagonia. He cooks outside quite a lot, using open flames, spits, and traditional pits to prepare his cuisine, despite being classically trained by some of the finest chefs in Europe. This episode, and the entirety of season one at least, are well worth watching.

At one point, I paused and backed the video up a moment so that I could point out the obvious. It is DARK and QUIET in Patagonia -- noise and light pollution around his house/island are nonexistent, leaving you in the glorious peace and quiet of a lake surrounded by mountains just after sunset, the only light coming from the small open fire being built at the edge of the screen. It wasn't the point of the episode by any means, but it certainly spoke to me about a person that purposefully lives his life in his own way, not asking for or caring about anyone's approval. Passionate and principled in his way. I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing honestly.

Aside from all of the nature and food, he also reads poetry. Two snippets came up: one from The Call of the Wild by Robert Service, and I Have Dreamed of You So Much by Robert Desnos. I'll leave this section with a short quote from the former:

"There's a whisper on the night-wind, there's a star agleam to guide us,
And the Wild is calling, calling... let us go."


Tanya selected Trout al Asador with Vistamar Sepia Reserva Sauvignon Blanc, a very fresh, citrusy and slightly spicy Chilean wine for our tasting adventure into Patagonia. Trout was actually mentioned as one of the best fish you can get in Chile, and particularly in Patagonia. Quite a lot of salmon farming has moved in relatively recently, so trout is a much better choice if you want a "good" fish.

Preparation was somewhat involved, but completely approachable as well. Tanya's pretty handy with a knife which made the dicing of all of the vegetables and bacon a snap. Slicing into the skin of the fish is a necessity as well. I think the only ingredients not pictured here are salt and pepper for the fish seasoning, butter that went into the sauce with the other diced ingredients, and lemon for finishing.

Normally, the dish is prepared with a butterflied filet, but the ones available at Central Market on shopping day weren't quite the size we wanted. We went for the larger fillets instead, which means we'll probably have leftovers. YAY!

And the result!
Seriously y'all -- Tanya's a genius. I fully expected the dish and wine pairing to be tasty, but I was genuinely unprepared for the wave after wave of zesty goodness that accompanied every bite and sip. I STRONGLY RECOMMEND you give this dish a try.

The added benefit of a dish like this is, as was mentioned previously, leftovers. However, in her genius, Tanya had already planned a use for those leftovers, which leads us to the hint of our next destination. The leftovers will be used to make coddle. Guess where we're going next?

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