By Elizabeth Timms
Photos by Renea Pope

[Renea Pope]

[Renea Pope]

Ñam Festival hit the streets of Santiago for the fifth consecutive year this past Wednesday, complete with various activities including chef talks at Universidad Catolica, featured restaurants in Barrio La Starria, and an excellent food market on Cerro Santa Lucia.  Chefs from all over South America, particularly Chile, gave demonstrations and workshops at the various Ñam locations, including the demonstration kitchen on Santa Lucia open to the public for free from Friday through Sunday. Professional chefs conducted hour-long demonstrations in which they featured different Chilean products and showed eager audiences how to incorporate them into their cooking.

The food market, Mercado INDAP, was sponsored by the Chilean Ministry of Agriculture, and displayed forty-five unique vendors selling various goods from the different regions of Chile.  As a result, we were able to sample many products of national origin at the event, including free range eggs and gluten-free ice cream, both relatively new to Chile.  The market, located on Cerro Santa Lucia in the middle of the city with majestic views of Santiago surrounded by the Andes, was the perfect location for the food stalls.  During our visit, we sampled sweet wines like moscato, several types of artisanal goat cheese, homemade ricotta, avocado oil, and delicious fruit marmalades including fig and nuts, our favorite.  We listened to proprietors share details about distinctive Chilean products including champagne from the Atacama dessert made of tropical fruits, sun dried tomatoes and peaches. There were also several wine kiosks with varietals from the well-known wine regions, like the Colchagua and Maule Valleys.  It was clear from the variety of products on offer, that the food scene in Chile has come a long way in the past five years.

Patrons especially enjoyed the “restaurants on wheels” area where we sampled lamb sandwiches and also some delicious tapas at the Maska food truck.  Also on offer were anticuchos, delicious wagyu hamburgers, fried local fish, and other tasty food-to-go.  According to the owners of Maska, the food truck scene in Santiago is limited right now due to certain laws preventing people from selling food on the road.  For the time being, these food trucks can only set up during food events. However, they are available for private parties and events, and I can’t imagine a more festive addition to a gathering that sopapillas served from Maska’s colorful truck.  For only three thousand CLP we had two delicious flatbread tapas, topped with shredded beef, pebre, and palta, fluffy French fries, and homemade sauces including olive and merken.  It was well worth the price of the food and the effort to get to the event.  What a great food experience in Santiago!  I will be back next year.

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