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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Getting fishy in Santiago

Centolla al pil pil (Chilean king crab in chilli and garlic)
Seafood paella with prawns, mussels, scallops and barnacles
Calamares al pil pil (squid in chilli and garlic)
Corvina con salsa Margarita
(Chilean sea bass topped with a creamy scallop and mussel chowder)
Main dining area in Mercado Central
LOCATION: Mercado Central, Avenida Jose Miguel Claro 89, Santiago, Chile
CATEGORY: Seafood, Chilean
DRINK: Miguel Torres (2008) Tormenta Viognier, organic white from Chile
WE THINK: Enter the touristy and crowded Mercado Central seafood market in Santiago. Expect loud and pushy touting by waiters from competing restaurants. Expect to get annoyed and very quickly lose the will to dine at any of them. Reason that you've come all this way, that you're hungry, and that you might as well eat here. Then decide on the restaurant with the least irritating waiters, sit back, relax and order a bottle of chilled white wine (we recommend the one we had). Things are already much better and you can start enjoying well-cooked, reasonably priced seafood. We experienced the rare case of our food tasting quite a bit nicer than it looked and were pleasantly surprised by the paella (normally a very hit-or-miss, mostly miss, thing to order) which was generously composed of 7 parts delicious seafood and 3 parts well-cooked rice. If in season, make sure to order the yummy squid and Chilean king crab 'al pil pil' (we also had the razor clams which were not particularly fresh) and if you're feeling brave, try the not so aesthetically pleasing but nice corvina in margarita sauce though it's likely to temporarily do some damage to your intestinal system.
OUR TIP: Ask your waiter for the freshest seafood on the menu. Not everything served in the market is super fresh, as evidenced by the occasional funky odours in the corridors.

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