11/16/2012 12:23:00 PM

Best Thing We Ate Last Night: Almond Financier at Boka

Things got a little spicy last night, or perhaps it was more smoky, due to the Merken (a traditional Chilean spice blend) covering several of the courses at Boka. Sponsored by Foods From Chile, these cultural immersion dinners took place in restaurants and home kitchens around the country. Each offered a different menu that highlighted the same signature ingredient such as Chilean olive oil, trout, salmon, Merken, and blueberries. Our menu was prepared by the culinary ambassador to Chile, chef Julius Russell, in collaboration with chef Guiseppe Tentori.

Each of the five courses was paired with one of three Chilean wines to accentuate the fresh and savory flavors of the South American country that’s cuisine is often overlooked. Our meal began with salmon poached in olive oil on top of avocado seasoned with Merken along with strawberries and apples. The dish had a tropical yet seasonal flavor, despite strawberry season ending several months ago. This was followed by another seafood course of skin-on Steelhead trout with quinoa and clementines. Roasted chicken with kale and plantains, then gnocchi with Mitake mushrooms concluded the savory part of the meal.

The star of our seating was dessert. It was in the realm of the elegant platings we are used to at Boka, but contained a distinctly more exotic flavor, thanks to the rich and sweet Chilean blueberries. They were served as compote with almond ice cream, Tonka bean custard and almond financier. The blueberry was the star of the dish, but did not overshadow the light and almost festive flavors of the almond cake and vanilla custard. Overall, the meal convinced us to add Chile to our foodie travel destinations.

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