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Any weekend in which I make no bigger triangle than one that takes me up to Plaza Italia, and maybe out to Quinta Normal or Parque O’Higgins, I consider a big success. Especially in winter, sticking close to home holds a certain appeal.

But it was also very appealing to go to the big 4x a year book sale at the Anglican Church up on Holanda. Where I bought more sad memoirs and explornography books than is probably healthy, all for 7400 CLP. 700 a hardcover, and 500 a softcover. Given the lack of books in English here, this was a major find. And yes, I have a kindle, and yes I use it, but mostly only when travelling, and well, I just like paper books.

I also like good coffee and sweets. And hanging out with some good people, three of whom I ran into at the book sale (not exactly a coincidence), and I spirited them away to Clementina, a café around the corner from Supermercado Diez, where everyone buys awesomely cheap wine (except me, because I don’t drink that much wine, and also, I have a bit of a supply exceeding demand thing going on at the moment). I found out about the café because one of the owners is in a photography workshop I’m taking right now, and she’d brought some brownies and cherry-oat bars to the class not long ago, and I thought to myself, “these people use salted butter in their sweets. I must have more.”

And so I spirited my friends away, and two of them had the specialty “Clementina” which is a shot of espresso with chocolate mousse (yes, you read that right) on top, and I had a perfectly-proportioned dry cappuccino (I think angels sang, as these are usually way too milky here in Santiago), and we tried a number of pastries. I had the raspberry almond bar (a winner), Abby and one other friend tried the brownie, and the remaining person (who was carrying an antique suitcase, which made me snicker repeatedly) had an apple crumb struesely thing.

And we all took bites of all the pastries, and we were so happy.

Favorite moment, aside from the noshing, was when a stylish older woman (maybe in her late 70s) came in, and ordered a whole cheesecake (made with cream cheese, not ricotta, but we did not get to taste this, as they only sell slices when business is brisk, and on a frigid Saturday, it was not so lively, but the whole thing costs only 8900 pesos, so what are you waiting for?). I asked her who the lucky people were who were going to eat it, expecting her to say her family.

My poker buddies, she responded. We’re a whole bunch of old ladies, all of us widows, and we get together on Saturdays, have a little drink, eat lunch, play poker ’til we run out of money, and then eat dessert.

She has twelve great grandchildren, who she says she enjoys mightily, but she wouldn’t miss her poker date (or her cheesecake) on any given Saturday.

I often look to Santiagoenpicada for the deets on good food and drink, and I hope you’ll click over there, and they’ll notice and they’ll review Clementina, too, because it deserves it.


Clementina, 2242 Los Conquistadores, esq. Padre Letelier, on the plaza
M-F 10-7 (closed 3:30-4:15) Sat, 10-4.
There are four places to sit inside, and in nice weather, they put tablecloths (but not tables) outside. Ask for Isi and tell her I sent you! The plaza has a playground for people who like that kind of thing, but no baño for customers, just a warning.