I’ve been to Portugal a total of one time. Ok I flew in another, to cross to Spain, but that doesn’t really count. It was actually one of my absolute fave holidays – sun, sea, sand, pool, adventures in the nearby town of Algor (including a night of karaoke), swimming with dolphins and an all inclusive package. Bliss. One thing I did remember about my trip, was the food.
Yes we might have been all inclusive, but the hotel I visited seemed pretty good at delivering authentic dishes too. I ate so much fresh fish. Even so, we didn’t actually venture that far for food on that trip, so I’m dying to go back for a foodie tour!
Portuguese cuisine is more than just piri piri. It includes many fish dishes, like salt cod and red mullet, as well as Alentejano pork from black Iberian pigs. No we’re not talking Nandos peri peri chicken. That’s actually not very Portuguese when it comes to dining out (it’s south african) – and even costs more than they’d pay for it!
I might however, not need to go too far.
Taste Portugal held a banquet last week in honour of a number of restaurants serving authentic cuisine. Here in the UK. I was extremely lucky to get a spot at the dinner, courtesy of chef Leandro Carreira of Londrino, with the Ambassador of Portugal. In fact, it was held at his residency.
The building was absolutely stunning. Chandeliers. Tapestry. Traditional art. The works. What a place to actually live.
The menu Londrino had created in celebration was exquisite. It was one where it potentially needed a translation next to each item. That’s how you know, they’ve tried to use different fancy ingredients to create something unique right?! Five dishes. Smaller portions. Covering fish, meat and veggie.
The craupaudine Beetroot with puffed amaranth was one of my favourites of the evening. It was meaty, deep in flavour and sprinkled with a slightly crisp grain.
The pickled potato noodles (with cured cod and coriander) didn’t feel like potato at all. The flavour delicate alongside the cured cod and coriander. One beautiful, simple yet creative dish.
The tarts were both delicious. The bolo de caco, anchovy & sorrel just topping the two – the pastry more dense, the salty anchovy and fresh sorrel combining into one tasty boat of flavours.
The pork on the bisaro pork presa, red peppers, almond & garlic, was perfectly pink in the middle. The red peppers were wilted, making them juicier. The almond and garlic paste, was like a savoury, yet sweet version of a nut butter. It was amazing. Great paired with the pork.
We finished up with a requeijao tart. A sweet shortcrust pastry encasing a fruity layer and cheesy topping, it was delicious. A fab end to a fantastic five courses.
Its probably good to note here that each course was paired with a white (fresh, slightly sweet and not overly dry) or red (pretty full-bodied and oaky in flavour) wine, apart from the dessert which arrived with a side of port – something I hadn’t tried before (I know, I know) and now know it won’t be the last.
The ambassador presented the plaques to the restaurants in attendance whom were being recognised as official representatives of Portuguese gastronomy in the UK, and the evening came to a close.
- Food: Exquisite. Beautifully presented. Creative. Fresh.
- Drinks: Delicious wine and port – I’m now a port convert. That’s definitely the way to do dessert.
- So: I’m now dying to go to Portugal for a foodie tour even more so, but I have several new restaurants on my list here in the UK, to keep my cravings satisfied for now – especially now I know they really are champions of authentic cuisine!
Have you been to Portugal? What’s your favourite thing about the cuisine?
*I was invited along to the Taste Portugal dinner. All views my own.