While Casablanca may seem like quite a small rural town with little to boast, we’ve tried to dig a little deeper to discover all the hidden gems that this valley has to offer. Aside from the wines and a sprinkling of top-notch restaurants, we’ve found there are many local products which are not to be missed when visiting this rural municipality. As such, we’ve recently been trying to incorporate those products into our tour offerings to give an even broader taste of Chile in our tours.
One of the producers which we looked at to provide top quality goods was Ízaro. Supposedly the first olive grove in Casablanca, they make their olives into oil in their tiny factory situated at the outskirts of the valley. Past vineyards and down curvey roads, difficult to find and with no marked entry point, much like Kingston, its largest landmark is its location next to a famous old pond, just a dry hole in the ground. Committed to selling from their factory and other small local retailers, (including Kingston) their olive oil is exquisite and we’re excited to be serving it to our guests at the winery.
The second producer of our local goods is Carnicería Don Lolo. With a modest butcher shop located in the center of Casablanca, walking into the tiny place you would never know of his fame. With just one small case for meat and a wall of a few wine bottles, the shop is bare bones and attended only by one old man, Don Lolo. As we explained to him we wanted to feature his pernil and — as part of or wine tastings, only then did he launch into his story of having his handmade — served at House of Morandé by Pablo Morandé the valley’s founder for wine. He also handed over a couple of wine magazines with full page spreads of him and his business. Trying his wares makes it easy to see how he has earned such a good name.
Our next local producer is of cheese. Located on the curve of a narrow road leading away from Casablanca, there sits a small red house which would be easily passed by if not for its large signs advertising its hot empanadas. There they use queso chanco or a locally made type of white cheese similar to meunster cheese, to make their range of empanadas. Sold in huge hunky blocks, we like to take it and cut it into small chunks and sprinkle it with merkén, the Chilean spicy pepper. Together, the cheese’s light flavor is perfect for tasting with wine.
The closest of our local producers actually sits just yards down the road from the palm-lined entrance to Kingston. Located in a small yellow house with a small wooden gate, we have only a tiny way to go in order to pick up our delicious queso fresco or fresh cheese which we use for our wine tastings. A very white cheese, it is made using milk from the lechería on the other side of the winery. Also part of the Kingston family farm it’s great to know that the dairy provides milk for our neighbors to turn into tasty cheese!