## Good Food in Valparaiso, but Social Art Crisis

From: "andrew cooke" <andrew@...>

Date: Sun, 14 Oct 2007 22:27:52 -0300 (CLST)

It's a holiday weekend here so today (Sunday) we took the bus to
Valparaiso and stumbled across "Le Pont d'Avignon" -  a fairly small and
nondescript looking restaurant, which turned out to be a real find.

http://lepontdavignon.blogspot.com/

The owner was a very friendly, hyperactive French guy (on the left on the
main photo at the link above), who was running around serving because he'd

We both ordered the fixed (lunch) menu, starting with cauliflower soup,
which was good (and served in traditional Chilean baked earthenware bowls
- while this "French food", it's very relaxed, Chilean style).  Next,
Paulina had some kind of fish, which was very nicely prepared (three
triangles, seared, with sesame seeds), rice, veg.  I had beef in red wine
with some very nice sauteed potatoes, veg.  The presentation was nice, but
not over the top - same could be said for the surroundings.  Pudding was
pancake with a good, not-too-sweet cream/orange filling.

Pauli managed to make a vaina last the whole meal, while I ordered a large
class of red.  That was perhaps my a mistake of mine - while it was
drinkable and very reasonably priced, the food deserved a better wine (and
half bottles were on the wine list).  I shouldn't have been so cheap.
Especially when the final price (including an espresso for me at the end,
and two small, free "bajativos") was 18.000 including tip.

Good food - tasty, well presented, not too salty, friendly atmosphere,
excellent price.  A real find (especially in Valparaiso!).  Would
recommend it to anyone...

After that, we went on to find an exhibition of art.

http://www.mercart.blogspot.com/

As we approached the address we realised we were in an "upcoming bohemian"
part of the town.  There were several noticeable foreign tourists, some
policemen, and various galleries and wine bars/restaurants.

It was awful - we discussed why later, but I am not sure we came to any
firm conclusion.  It might well be conservatism, ignorance or prejudice on
our part.

In a way, the place was "our kind of area".  In a big city, perhaps in
Europe, we would have felt "at home".  But in Valparaiso - a fairly poor
port - it just seemed odd.  Here in Santiago I guess we avoid the same
contrast, because the "posh" area is much larger - in Valparaiso it was
still small, raw, and exposed.

Second, the art didn't seem to click.  Instead, the overwhelming
impression was that it was there to make money from this new "market
segment".  And, as Pauli noted, that market was as much middle class
Chilean as foreign tourists.

Bleagh.  I was going to write more - about how art involves some kind of
conversation/context, how that didn't seem to be present, and my
uncertainty about whether that was true, or just a perception amplified by
the uncomfortable social setting.  But I think I'd rather go to bed.

Andrew

PS I should add that the restaurant wasn't in this area (although it's
nearby).  And so was "authentic" in way that, curiously, I would have
expected to have value to people in the wine bars.  Very odd.

### In Retrospect

From: "andrew cooke" <andrew@...>

Date: Mon, 15 Oct 2007 08:44:13 -0300 (CLST)

In retrospect this wasn't that odd - mainly different versions of what the
"other" is.  Andrew