As I mentioned in a previous post, some friends and I went to Chateau DeFay, a few kilometers outside of Antigua Guatemala.
With high expectations and more than enough enthusiasm we set off on our way. We heard that the road was rough, that people had been throwing their garbage by the wayside but that it was well worth the journey. The Chateau is quite beautiful, that much I will admit. My wife and I had some fun taking some pictures in the very nicely kept back yard.
The rain, however, drove us back indoors to explore the rest of the building. We wandered through the rooms until we found the stairwell that goes up the tower and, needless to say, hustled up the tower taking pictures out of the windows on the way up and down.
Finally we headed back down to the reception area for the free wine tasting. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the place, Chataeu DeFay is supposed to be a winery. While everything seems to point in that direction (such as the bottles of wine labeled “Chataeu DeFay”) there is some very conflicting information about it. During the wine tasting they told us that they make a bunch of different wines. They were OK but definitely over priced. The curious thing came when we took the tour and they told us that they were still a few years away from producing all their own grapes and that they imported some. After seeing the vines we went to the winery where they showed us their equipment and the tour guide let slip that they didn’t have any grapes last year. I guess that explained the incredibly clean machinery (with the exception of the label maker). None the less, we did enjoy that wine.
Now, wether or not they make their own wine, grow their own grapes or overcharge for their wine, this place is permanently on my radar for the food. This is, after all, a food-lovers blog and not an oenophile blog and, ironic as it may seem, the food here was so much better than the wine. We started off the meal with a mouth-watering antipasto which consisted of some mozzarella squares, pimento, black olives on tomato slices all drizzled with some amazing extra virgin olive oil.
After this we had the pasta. The menu basically consisted of a bunch of pastas and about 3 meat dishes. When confronted with this kind of menu, it leads me to the conclusion that they must be good with their pasta and put the meat/chicken/fish on there just to please the pasta haters. This is a prejudice that was not seen in anyone in our group. I had the anchovie pasta. The two anchovies on top were a nice touch aesthetically but did not help the dish’s taste in any way I could discern. By ditching the two anchovies that crowned the pasta, the taste of the pasta improved exponentially. It was creamy and delicious and struck a wonderful balance between creamy and light.
The winner by choice was the Pasta al Pesto. While quite gratifying to my taste buds, several of my friends found it to be somewhat bland to their taste. While quite colorful, Pesto does sometimes tend towards the bland if you’re not careful.
The pasta Pomodoro was the best dish. Despite being the most simple, it also gave those fresh vegetable a real chance to shine. If Chateau DeFay has anything going for it, it’s gotta be the fresh vegetables that they’ve got floating around they’re kitchen. I just barely managed to snap this picture before it was devoured.
The pasta Amatriciana was also among the chosen dishes and proved to have some bold flavors for the adventurous taste buds. A little salty and a little spicy it kind of gave a naughty/nice kind of vibe that played with your head a little while before you made your mind up about what was going on in your mouth.
So at about Four O’Clock we decided to make our way back home because the road was indeed rather difficult. Not only does one have to deal with ruts, rocks and mud but we found ourselves in the middle of some rather picturesque fog.
All in all we spent a very nice day there. For anyone who’s planning on going, I would give the following advice: skip the tour, take a lot of pictures and eat the pasta. Think of it as a destination meal rather than a visit to a vineyard. You’ll be so much happier to find your expectations of a decent meal met and even surpassed without the letdown of seeing where grapes could be, will be, were but aren’t. Also, don’t trick yourself into thinking that the garbage situation won’t be so bad. Keep you windows up and your AC on and the smell shouldn’t be too bad.