Friday, September 10, 2010

Shangri-La, my gringo supermarket experience in Santiago

Yesterday on my way home from the dentist, which is uptown, in a part of Las Condes that has a bunch of office parks (and apparently dentists offices) I was riding my bike back home, when I stopped into Shangri-La, or as you may know it, the supermarket.

It is always rumored that up in the hinterlands (and to be honest, this is not that hinterlandy, it's only about six miles from my house, but it a totally different social strata than where I live), there are gringo food products. Now, for the most part, I am perfectly satisfied with the products I can find close to my house, though in the two weeks I've been looking, I haven't found any decent mustard. Chileans think it should be sweet. Ick.

But on the whole, I eat what my local supermarket (NG) and feria sell, and I am happy. There are gringos who are probably less and more happy than I am with the food selections, and you can be sure that more than one of us has some secret nibbles stashed away in our suitcases when we arrive back in Chilito. But then there are things you can't bring back, or didn't know you'd want, or ran out of.

And that's where Shangri-La comes in. I was riding down Manquehue, towards Los Militares, when I saw the first sign (all photos taken on the sly and with my phone, it's not that the photo class I'm taking is wreaking havoc on my ability to focus):


The store was spacious, had a pretty complete and good-looking take out sections, salads, soups, sushi, sandwiches, other s food that slips my mind at the moment. But I wasn't hungry, so onward I soldiered.

The first thing I came across that gave me pause I did not take a picture of, but for dramatic effect, I will now take a pause. Ready? Pumpernickel bread. Fresh, black bread, which was sliced before my very eyes in a metal cage with a tiny saw that measured each slice at 10 mm, because heaven forbid I should have 11 mm slices. I have not eaten pumpernickel bread in years, and it's one of the few foods I remember my grandmother serving, and wow. Pumpernickel. It's in the freezer as we speak. Not quite molassesy enough, but close, very close!

Bread well-bagged and under-arm, I meandered further, and came across a product which gringos laud the appearance of so fondly that it reminds me of my BIL's frequent joke "We have a friend in cheeses" (sorry, didn't mean to offend). At any rate, behold the golden chalice of Shangri-La:

Cheddar cheese in Chile. I didn't even know it was possible.
The Golden Chalice, cheddar cheese, Shangri-La

I zigged and zagged throughout the store, sneakily taking photos, lest I get snapped at (no photos in the supermarkets in Chile, sad but true). And I found the following:

Haagen Dazs ice cream (hope you're flush, because it's about $8.25 a pint!)
Shangri-La icecream

Maple Syrup, for just $26.00 for 12.5 ounces. Practically a bargain, but hey! maple syrup!
Shangri-La maple syrup

Sara Lee frozen poundcake, which I'm sure is extra moist and delicious after traveling an additional 5,000 miles to get here.
Shangri-La pound cake

American Frozen Pizza, at $14-$17.00 a pop, you can be sure to impress your friends. BTW, we have frozen pizza in Chile. It costs around $6-$8.
Shangri-La pizza

Boca Burgers
Boca Burgers in Shangri-La

Some kind of fuel for the Chilean obese children's fire, frozen dinners, proving that the 80s really are coming back.
Kid-plumping food, Shangri-La

Snyder's of Hanover pretzels and two different "flavors" of Pam, nonstick spray
Shangri-La, now with Pam!

Terra Chips
Terra Chips, Shangri-La

and my personal favorite, and which I actually would have bought if I didn't already have a purchased-in-the-states supply under my sink, even if they are nearly $2.00 apiece:

scotchbright sponges
Shangri-La cleaning supplies

And then, just in case you'd forgotten you were in the nosebleed section of the city, they had these lovely uniforms for you to buy for your nana as she does whatever it is she does in your house and out on the town:

Nana uniforms in Shangri-La

and shampoo for blonds! (though now that I look at this more carefully, I see it is conditioner. No worry, I'm sure the shampoo was around there somewhere)
Special shampoo for blonds in Shangri-La

There were also chocolate chips (but not a good brand), frozen waffles, frozen croissants, a bulk section where you pack your own dried fruit, dried morel mushrooms and other assorted ones, several varieties of bleu cheese. There was not interesting hand soap or OB tampons, where do you think you are?

And I bought some good mustard to go with my bread and a few other items (deodorant, birthday candles, I know, it's captivating!), and rode my bike home about six miles, passing no fewer than five other supermarkets en route. But none of them like Shangri-La.


Isabel said...

I've been meaning to check that Unimarc out and will go there for the pumpernickel alone. You didn't happen to find any Rye, did you? That would make my day!

Aso, did you buy the Santa Rosa Cheddar? I'm interested to know if it's cheaper than the Tasty Cheddar from Australia and how it compares taste-wise.

Looks like I'll have to make a trip myself....

Anonymous said...

So the rumors are true!!! i have been hearing about this supermarket...did you see any bagels? It it true? I may just have to venture uptown this weekend and find it!

Eileen said...

there was, indeed pan de centeno, but I didn't try it, and I don't remember seeing any caraway seeds. But they even have little pao de queijos (which they call pan de queso) which looked tasty, but how much bread do I need?

On the cheddar cheese, I did buy it, but I cannot compare it to another cheddar tried here because I never have. It seemed a little gummy to me, I like it crumblier, but I bought it mainly out of curiousity, not out of actual desire to eat cheddar cheese. Now get me some feta and havarti and we can talk! The price for the cheddar was 10196 per kilo, so a 170 gram piece cost 1733, which is maybe a little pricey, but not crazy high. Depends what you want it for, I suppose!

Eileen said...

alessandra, I did not see any bagels, and I think I looked reasonably carefully, but could have missed them. Let us know what treasures you find when you go. Did you hear me, there were THREE different kinds of blue cheese, and none of them had a laughing cow on them.

I think abby recently talked about bagels again. I know I have talked about them a number of times, but never found a source after the NY bagel place went out of business. to check on abby's bagel talk. to read my snark on the matter, and associated comments.

Margaret said...

Good one Eileen- but I had to laugh... I don't live THAT far from you and up until just recently my local supermarket-ette stocked cheddar cheese from Australia (of course, I may be the only one who bought it). It's not like the good stuff from home, but it sure beats "mantecoso."
But pumpernickel? Now THERE'S a find!! I'd head uptown for pumpernickel!
How about corned beef? OK- I know that's not your thing, but I'm dreaming... and if anyone EVER finds peanut butter cups and decent licorice, my world will be complete!

Eileen said...

well, yesterday I went to the supermarket (full-fledged) near me as well (Sta. Isabel on Cumming) and they don't even have gladware, so while you may not live far away, the purchasing habits are quite different between the two comunas. And I've never seen cheddar cheese here before. I pretty much only eat goat cheese anyway. No idea on corned beef. Jewish deli? BTW, they also have lox at the market. Not smoked (cooked) salmon, but actual lox.

keep it going people, what else have you seen or wished for?

Betsy Longstocking said...

This blog post warmed the cockles of my heart! Based on my in-depth research, Santa Rosa cheddar is the only one worth spending your money on. Sure, it's only mild but at least it's imported from the US (hence it has the flavor I expect) and packaged in Argentina. All Santa Rosa cheeses are superior, in my opinion. Unimarc has become more expensive lately but if you've got a hankering... Also LIDER is importing Great Value brand through the evil Wal-Mart so check out their gringified junk too, such as sauerkraut, ranch and italian dressing, stewed tomatoes, croutons, mac and cheese, etc.

lydia said...

I also heard they have bagels, but one person said they had to ask and someone pulled them out of the back.
Hahha, well i forgot that for a second there are actually some blondes up where this supermarket is. My boyfriend and I saw shampoo for blondes at a store here in valpo once and he was cracking up about all the wanna-bes that probably buy it, and that all the blonde gringas he knew wanted nothing more than to dye their hair so that people stopped staring at their hair!

Nice selection. Those are the SAME TV dinners that my mom let me get whenever we had a babysitter! usually we made everything from scratch, but TV dinners were a very coveted treat haha. (foods probably made of plastic, but it just looked so nice, and came with a prize!)

Annje said...

There has been such a buzz about that unimarc, I'll have to check it out when I get there. I can live without bagels, for the most part, but I love cheddar, and more recently blue cheese (ps loved the I have a friend in cheeses line-ha!)

what's with the hankering for corned beef? is this sure proof that I am NOT from New York?

Sharon said...

I see you went to the new Unimarc. I've been hearing about it everywhere. My mom told me they even had valet parking, which sounds totally crazy. Maybe I should check it out, to see if I can find decent rye bread.

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure I know that Unimarc because it's kind of close to where I was living, right?

I love how they have tons of expensive products and THEN the uniforms for your domestic help. Like if you can AFFORD this then you probably have a live in maid.

Kristin said...

Wow--how much were the Boca Burgers??

Abby said...

Margaret, I bought the cheddar from that grocery store too! But you're right, I haven't seen it recently. I've seen the orange (sacrilege, in my book...cheese should never be orange!) cheddar cheese at the hiper lider in Nunoa before too, but never bought it. I too am interested to see how it compares to Tasty brand (which is super expensive, by the way.)

I went to a different Unimarc last weekend and found ice cream sandwiches! Delicious!

Eileen said...

Lydia, really? I had never seen them before. Could be regional, I guess. Products differ from area to area, and if you're not from NY (which I don't think you are), that would make sense.

Sharon, they had rye bread, but I didn't buy any. If you go and get some, let me know. Check out the slicing machine, it's very cool!

Kristin, looks like 4109, which is about eight bucks. Though I don't eat meat, they're not something I buy much of in the states, so I can't remember how much they are, but I'm guessing they must be a fair bit less expensive.

All- you know it never ceases to amaze me how much we have to say about food!

For 91 Days said...

Good job sneaking pictures. I always do the same!!!! No pictures allowed .. fine! This will make things more interesting for me. ';)

Nimble said...

Eileen I'm glad you found treasures and a decent mustard. I once bought a flavored mustard that turned out to have a small amount of sugar in it, shudder. Now I think I need to put mustard with seeds in it on my grocery list.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it funny, the things that end up being imported to various countries? You have a much larger selection than I ever saw in North Africa, which makes sense since you're closer AND a modern country. We did get good French cheeses, so I could live w/o cheddar. I know expats who missed it GREATLY, but I could never understand why, since the cheapest cheese was gouda which is so much better!

Heather said...

If that were a Morningstar Farms Spicy Black Bean burger box I just might pay the $8! Also, you mentioned riding your bike around, any tips on where to find a used bike around here? Nothing professional, just a set of wheels with a place to put my market goodies, etc. :)

Matt said...

Cheddar...oh how I miss you. And that's real Cheddar, extra mature from Somerset, not that crap from Vermont Americans seem to believe is Cheddar. And don't get me started on Australian Cheddar. The shame of it. :)

(Abby, Red Leicester is orange and it's delicious. But it's supposed to be orange. Cheddar is not.)

Anonymous said...

Feta you can get at the organic feria in Las Condes. It was pretty good too, and packed in brine juice.

kyle said...

I see plenty of american food in the hyperlider on irrarazaval. But i havent found anywhere selling english food, other than pointless decaffienated twinings teabags.

Even the little town i lived at in italy had a place selling digestive biscuits and marmite!

Eileen said...

hey Kyle, don't know what you're looking for, but I'll keep an eye out if you let me know. Also, this blog has moved to I'll still get your messages, but no one else will see them! the corresponding blog post on the new domain is: