Sunday, January 22, 2006

Dinner with "Chef Don Max"

8:30 p.m. Sitting in Max’s “Luminojos” overlooking a beautiful Pacific, sunset approaching. Max selecting songs from his music library to share with Kristin and Manuela.


Jeremy, Trini and Camilla had to leave for Santiago this morning at 10:30. It took all the commotion of their loading up the car to wake me from my slumber.

Outside "Luminojos" with Max and Trini, soon after emerging from my tent

Camilla, Trini and Jeremy's friend from Santiago



The view south from "Luminojos". (Note the jet contrail, a rare sight these days!)

Max was a man on a mission today. He was going to prepare a special dinner for us tonight, so Kristin, Manuela and I joined him on a trip to Pelluhue to shop for the ingredients.

Max and Kristin. His shirt says essentially "in the final analysis, humanity is nothing but a meat sandwich between heaven and earth."

One of the first stops was "La Casa Azul", one of Max's favorite sources of alfahores. He bought about a dozen, and we nibbled them throughout the day. At the fish market, Max selected Reineta, a delicate local fish, for tonight's main course, and also purchased crab meat for a garnish. We were "forced" to taste piura, a delicacy of fish organs, high in iodine content.

In Pellahue, a visit to the fish market for tonight's meal

He later introduced us to one of his favorite local snacks: cheese and shrimp empanadas. Essentially, a "turnover" stuffed with a big cube of very mild white cheese and some pieces of shrimp, then deep-fried. For me, it's an acquired taste. I didn't quite appreciate the combination of flavors.

Throughout the shopping excursion, Max was introducing us to his little seaside community. Quite a relaxed and comfortable place.

(Postscript: Sadly, the small town of Pellahue was devastated by the magnitude 8.8 earthquake and tsunami that struck Chile on February 27, 2010.)


Before sunset, Max led us outside with a number of wine bottles under his arms. "I'm going to show you how we return sand to the sea." From a tiny concrete pad he had poured on the edge of a cliff, we launched the bottles to the rocks below, where the waves will wash away and grind up the shards.

Max gives a lesson on "returning the sand to the sea"

Manuela prepares to launch a bottle to the rocks below

Kristin's turn

Our next lesson was "how to observe the green flash at sunset." Mariners know that with a good clear horizon out on the sea, there can be seen an instantaneous "green flash" moments after the sun sets. I've never seen it (though when I was in the Navy, we would look for it), and tonight we were not going to have the opportunity: the horizon was too hazy. Max says he has seen it many times.

Max was teaching us how to spot "the green flash" as the sun sets, but none today. The horizon was not sufficiently clear.

Max, Manuela and Kristin

With Kristin, Manuela (and Lucky) at "Luminojos", Chile (I actually received these two photos from Kristin on May 6, 2006, and plugged them into chronological order here. Though she is back home in Germany, travel is in her blood now.)

This evening, "Chef Don Max" turned his kitchen dining area into a first-rate restaurant. Apparently, in part, it was an inside joke. He wanted to send a friend of his a photo of him hosting a simple meal at his house.

Chef "Don Max" prepares a feast

The menu included Reineta with a crab and mussel sauce, rice, mixed green salad and a garden strawberry and yoghurt parfait.

And then there was the wine selection: Los Arboles 2004 Chardonnay-Chenin from Mendoza, Marcus 2003 Malbec from Rio Negro in Patagonia, Argentina; Tier Ruga 2003 Late Harvest Semillon-Viognier from Colchagua Valley and a traditonal aperitif, Araucano Bitter.

What a treat! Kristin, Manuela and I helped where we could, but it was really the "Don Max Show"! When the stage was set, everything ready, we photographed the scene using my camera set up on tripod. Then we sat down and enjoyed!

Dinner at "Luminojos"

A great evening. The fish was absolutely delicious! As our German friends had a bus to catch early in the morning, I offered to do kitchen clean-up. It was the least I could do. But it would wait until tomorrow!

Camped out again. What a wonderful setting for a tent!

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