Chile's agricultural landscape is as diverse as it is bountiful. One can easily get grapes, strawberries, avocado, cactus fruit, unctuous melon, ripe tomatoes and corn in every market this time of year. Coming from North America, I was quite taken with the late summer produce available during my visit in mid March. When Chef Mauricio suggested we take on the papaya, one of the country's most celebrated fruits, I had to work hard not to scream "Claro que si!" which translates to, "Of course, yes!" This recipe embodies many of the dishes I saw on Mauricio's menu at the Aubrey Hotel restaurant, where I stayed in Santiago. He dresses the produce minimally and lets the innovation happen with exceptionally ripe, flavorful ingredients. The chilled papaya soup sounds simple on paper and it is easy to prepare, but the sum is more magical than the parts. Armed with only a blender and a precise way of balancing sweet, sour, and spicy, this dessert shined with bright papaya flavor.
Upon making it again in the States and making minor adjustments, I can safely say that this will be in active rotation as a low key dessert just right for Spring time. It's light, fruity and positively radiant. The preparation of heated papaya, Pisco, spice and condensed milk could be applied to an array of fruits. I'm thinking to try mango and peaches in summer in this same manner.
Chilled Papaya Soup with Pisco and Lime Serves 2 2 tablespoons butter 3 cups papaya, sliced in small cubes, divided 1/4 cup Pisco (or brandy, but Pisco is authentic to Chile and Peru) 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar Juice from one lime 1/4 cup condensed milk Pinch of salt Heat the butter on medium-high in a skillet. Saute 1 1/2 cups papaya in the butter for about two minutes, until the papaya begins to soften. Add the Pisco, cardamom, and sugar, and cook for another two minutes (the alcohol will burn off and impart great flavor). Place the cooked papaya, lime juice, condensed milk and a pinch of salt into a blender. Blend until smooth. Chill the puree for at least 2 hours. When plating, place remaining fresh papaya cubes on top of a bed of papaya puree. Add a little more lime, if desired.Related: Round Up: Chilled Summer Soups (Besides Gazpacho!) (Information for this post was gathered during a visit sponsored by Tablet Hotels who provided the author with a room at The Aubrey Hotel. All views and opinions expressed in this post are the personal views of the author.) (Images: Leela Cyd Ross)