Chile serves up lamb from ‘the end of the world’

China Daily (USA) - - DINING | LIFE - By MIKE PETERS

Lam­blovers will have a field day soon — a field week, even — when the Chilean em­bassy spon­sors its an­nual gas­tro­nomic week at a Bei­jing ho­tel.

This year’s theme is Patag­o­nia in Pek­ing, fea­tur­ing guest chef Jorge Luk­sic from the south­ern tip of Chile, a re­gion made fa­mous thanks to sev­eral best-sell­ing books by writ­ers like Paul Th­er­oux and Bruce Chatwin.

“Patag­o­nia has a great­mys­tique — it’s the end of the world, the last fron­tier,” says Chile’s am­bas­sador to China, Jorge Heine, who notes that the ma­jes­tic An­des moun­tains lit­er­ally col­lapse into the ocean at the tip of South Amer­ica.

Patag­o­nia has been rated a top des­ti­na­tion for ad­ven­ture tourism, thanks in part to the im­mense Tor­res de Paine na­tional park, which stretches over 250,000 hectares. Trekkers and other sport lovers are en­ticed by the park’s glaciers and lakes, ice­bergs, pu­mas and con­dors — the big­gest birds on Earth.

“We find that Chi­nese tourists are fas­ci­nated by two travel op­por­tu­ni­ties from Chile: Easter Is­land and Antarc­tica,” he says. “But those are not op­tions for most tourists — they are re­mote and frag­ile ecolo­gies. So we are ea­ger to show them how Patag­o­nia of­fers a sim­i­lar ad­ven­ture, with its dra­matic coast­line and spec­tac­u­lar glaciers that have fired the imag­i­na­tion of Charles Dar­win and many oth­ers.”

InChina from Sept 19-24, it’s lamb that will fire the imag­i­na­tion of food­ies in the cap­i­tal. Chef Luk­sic comes to the Hilton Bei­jing with Patag­o­nia’s sig­na­ture dish, which is ba­si­cally roast­ing a whole lamb on a cross-shaped spit over an open fire for sev­eral hours. Slow-cook­ing this way gives the dish its crispy brown skin and ten­der meat — “so ten­der that it falls off the­bone­and­can be cut with a fork,” Heine says.

Luk­sic will only cook this the tra­di­tional way at the fes­ti­val’s open­ing on Sept 19 — on the ho­tel out­door ter­race — but the dish will be pre­pared in the kitchen the rest of the week.

Other dishes to look for from Luk­sic in­clude Patag­o­nian king crab, which lo­cals in­sist has fla­vor su­pe­rior to lob­ster. The most pop­u­lar way to en­joy it is cooked in a stew topped with bread crumbs and toasted cheese.

From the bar, the ex­otic touch will be a Calafate sour. Pre­pared in a sim­i­lar way to a pisco sour— with con­fec­tioner’s sugar, le­mon juice and Chilean pisco, this lo­cal vari­a­tion adds a mea­sure of Calafate berry juice. The sweet-and­sour juice is in­dige­nous to Patag­o­nia.

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Roasted lamb will be among Patag­o­nia’s sig­na­ture dishes at the an­nual Chilean gas­tro­nomic week in Bei­jing.

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