South America calling

by Forager on November 1, 2009

Bienvenudos to the first post in a marathon series covering my month long travels with the Co-pilot across South America. A month! The longest holiday I’ve ever been on! Who knows when I’ll get another chance to blow all my annual leave in one go.. It pains me to think about it but as one friend morbidly acknowledged, the end of your holiday is the point in time when you are the furthest from your next holiday… *sigh*

During the month we’ve traipsed fleetingly across 4 countries: Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Peru and experienced more diverse cultures, scenes and landscapes than I thought possible. From the bustling metropolitan late night party life in chic Buenos Aires; to breathtakingly beautiful arid lunar landscapes and rainbow mountains crossing the Andes into Chile; in Bolivia we saw blinding white surreal salt flats juxtaposed with steaming hot lush jungles, not to mention some of the worst bus trips imaginable; to mysterious historic monuments enveloped in mist and cloud in Peru. The stark contrasts in landscape, food, culture and people constantly intrigued us and I hope through my awe struck words some of our experiences can be related. And of course for me, there was a determined effort to experience as much of the local food and dining experiences wherever and whenever possible.

We experienced fine dining, excellent European-influenced bistro fare and the most outstanding beef I’ve ever tasted in trendy neighbourhoods in Buenos Aires; traditional Andean dishes showcasing quinoa and potato, lots of dulce de leche, horrid salchipapa, surprisingly tasty guinea pig and freshly caught Red Piranha in Bolivia; and excellent ceviche and smooth pisco sours in Peru. So much was eaten, so many days where we clutched at our painfully bloated bellies trying to work up an appetite for our next meal. The logical segmentation of the posts will be by country, then split into more managable subsegments.

But as is customary with our international Qantas flights now, we made good use of the Co-pilot’s Platinum Frequent Flyer status and started the culinary journey at the Sydney Qantas First Class Lounge with a selection of delectable goodies from the lounge’s à la carte menu.

A delicious breakfast with bloody marys and an endless flow of champagne: Taittinger Brut Reserve (foreground)
and Veuve A. Deveaux Blanc de Noir


We’ve had the Veuve A. Deveaux Blanc de Noir that last time we were at the lounge and the Co-pilot was won over by it last time so didn’t hesitate to order it again. The tasting notes on the menu for the Taittinger Brut Reserve intrigued me enough to have me order myself a glass. “Lightly citrus with mineral hints on the nose. Big, fruity and citrus on the palate with a little bit of cookie dough giving a delicate roundness. A lovely long green apple finish.” It sounded divine and the cookie dough definitely piqued my interest.

Unfortunately, I can’t say we agreed with the tasting description.We sipped, tasted and swilled the champagnes; an eyebrow raised, brows furrowed in thought. There was an overwhelming flavour that was familiar but not one mentioned in the tasting notes. Was it buttery? Yeasty? Perhaps it tasted like eggwhite – albumin?

And then it came to us. It tasted like Luria Broth. What’s that you say? Luria broth – is that some kind of delicious broth? No – Luria Broth is a nutrient-rich soup used for growing bacteria in scientific labs. It has a distinctive smell – one we’ve likened to the smell of KFC in the past and now we can say, like Taittinger Brut Reserve. It sounds a tad unfair as the champagne was otherwise pleasant, but once the association was made, it was difficult to erase from our minds and with each sip I couldn’t help but envisage some of that murky yellow bacterial soup swilling in my mouth.

Before the waiter could kindly refill my glass I switched to the safer option of Veuve A. Deveaux de Noir as per the Co-pilot.

Ricotta pancakes with blueberries, whipped butter and maple syrup


The Co-pilot ordered the ricotta pancakes – which were just excellent – light and fluffy with each mouthful bursting with blueberry flavour. So delicious!

Eggs benedict with petuna smoke ocean trout


I’m a sucker for eggs benedict. If I see it on a breakfast menu – invariably it gets ordered. But there is nothing more disappointing than a poorly poached egg or worse yet, when I get a hard boiled yolk. But there were no problems here. These were rich and perfectly poached. The gooey orange yolk eagerly spilling all over my plate.

Wholegrain toasted sandwich with schulz bacon, lettuce, vine-ripened tomato and aioli


The Co-pilot decided to follow up his breakfast entree of pancakes with the more substantial main of a toasted BLT. Though full I managed a few bites and found the thick cut smokehouse bacon was full of flavour. A simple dish but so delicious and impressive when well executed.

Buffalo yoghurt with vanilla strawberries and seasonal fruit salad


To finish we had the buffalo yoghurt and fruit for dessert. The buffalo yoghurt is rich and creamy like a smooth ricotta but with a more acidic aftertaste. The sweetness of the slightly poached strawberries complements it very nicely and despite being full we gobble it all up.

Noble One dessert wine


And because I love dessert wines we each finish with a glass of Noble One – served in a small shot glass. We sip the sweet, sticky and delicately perfumed golden liquid and as we watch the sky reddened by a Sydney dust storm brighten, and planes preparing to take off load their cargo holds we were grinning broadly and giddy with excitement over our impending holiday and all the sights and experiences waiting for us in South America.

There might have been other factors contributing to the giddyness. If you’ve been counting, that’s a Bloody Mary, 2 glasses of champagne and a shot of dessert wine each. And all before 10am! It was excessive for an early morning breakfast but the Co-pilot assured me it was well justified as it was 9pm in Buenos Aires and we were merely getting ourselves settled into their timezone and the South American lifestyle.

Sounded logical to me.

A post on Buenos Aires coming soon…

Address:
Qantas First Class Lounge.
Sydney International Airport.

Foodie in the know:
Entry to the First Class lounge is reserved for only international travellers that are travelling First Class or are Platinum frequent flyer members. The lucrative perk for Platinum customers – you get this experience even if you’re travelling economy class!

Websites:
Sydney Qantas First Class Lounge

Related post:

Decadent gluttony in the first class lounge

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Helen @ World Foodie Guide November 2, 2009 at 7:14 am

Really looking forward to your Buenos Aires post. It's on my list of 25 food & travel destinations to visit over the next 5 years! I can't wait to eat beef and more beef…

2 Steph November 2, 2009 at 8:09 am

Yum, I'm a sucker for eggs benedict too. And you're totally right about the runny egg yolks! Can't wait to see all your holiday posts :)

3 Tangled Noodle November 2, 2009 at 11:08 am

I'm so excited to start reading about your South American adventures! Your itinerary sounds like our dream vacation so I'm eager for your insight about the region. What a great way to start off – champagne, eggs benedict, and what would be my personal favorite, ricotta pancakes. Can't wait to read more!

4 Anonymous November 2, 2009 at 11:25 am

Oh my, first class lounge? I'm so tempted to do a Kath and Kel and sneak in somehow!

5 Howard November 2, 2009 at 12:37 pm

wow, living the high life! Looking forward to the rest of the posts, especially the bistro food.

6 Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella November 2, 2009 at 4:58 pm

Cookie Dough? Luria broth! Haha this is why I just can't seem to get into the whole wine thing lol

7 Forager November 3, 2009 at 4:19 pm

Hi Helen – I'd definitely re-visit Buenos Aires. What a beautiful city! And despite my earlier fears, it doesn't appear that you can eat too much beef!

Hey Steph – Still curating photos.. but they'll be up soon-ish I hope. Although it took me almost 5 months to finish the Vietnam posts. Shocking!

Hey Tangled Noodle – Oh, we ate so much so I've got lots of posts and food porn from all over South America. Just need to find the time to do it!

Hey Helen – You should! It's worth the risk! :)

Hey Howard – Well, we were travelling economy class so not really much of a high life! Did have some great bistro food in Buenos Aires though so there'll be plenty on that.

Hey Lorraine – Yeah, I'm not sure I'll give that Champagne another go. Luria Broth isn't the best of flavours.

8 Jen (jenius.com.au) November 3, 2009 at 5:20 pm

Welcome back! I can't wait to read more on your South American adventure 😉

9 Forager November 4, 2009 at 9:49 am

Hey Jen – Thanks! Good to be home actually. I missed Asian food! More to come on South America soon!

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