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Part II: How to Shop for Food in Portugal

Can you believe that in the 4+ years that I’ve lived here, I’ve only started cooking Portuguese dishes at home in the last year? I kept telling myself it’s best I leave the Portuguese cooking to the experts- meaning the mothers and grandmothers of people I know and all the other little ladies who work in the local restaurants consistently turning out delicious food. What I finally realized, however, is these very same women aren’t using any expensive, exotic ingredients or complicated cooking techniques. The beauty of Portuguese cuisine is how well they make use of the abundant local fresh ingredients readily available to them: this includes not only locally sourced fruit, vegetables and livestock, but also the vast diversity […]

Churrasqueira: Savoring Grilled Meats in Portugal

This past week, while enjoying one of our favorite cities in the world, Porto, it occurred to us that we were harboring a delicious secret that should be revealed. This cuisine, though not entirely secret to the entire population of Brazil, is unknown to many, and it’s called Churrasqueira (Churrascaria is Brazilian). Last Sunday, while scouring the internet for cheap meal that would satiate the belly, we eventually asked the front desk for a little assistance. Unfortunately, the hotel attendent was less that enthusiastic about our chances to find anything interesting, as we were not only in the “touristy” section of the city, but it was also Sunday night. Having stumbled across a place called Churrasqueira Brasa online, located just down the […]

Grilling Season: How Portuguese Expats Fire it Up and What They Pour to Cool Down

Portuguese expats in the U.S. like to joke that if there’s a waft of sizzling sardines in the air then a fellow immigrant can’t be too far. They’re usually right. Growing up in New Jersey, expats’ grills were hardly ever graced by the usual American fare of hot dogs, hamburgers, porter house steaks, ribs, lobster tails or corn on the cob. Our grills brimmed with sardines, carapau (small mackerel), pork cutlets, cod fish, pork belly, chourico (Portuguese sausage) and whole or select chicken pieces. The side dishes generally consisted of boiled young potatoes, skin on of course, garnished with olive oil. Or, a salad packed with lettuce, tomatoes, and olives and charred red and green bell peppers. To top the […]

Petiscos: The Portuguese Cousin of Spanish Tapas

In the American restaurant scene, the Spanish small plates, “Tapas,” are no conundrum. But say the word “Pinxtos” (generally bread topped with a fish or meat mixture, especially popular in the Basque region of Spain) and you’ll lose a few people. Say the Portuguese word “Petiscos” and you’ll get a whole lot of blank stares. Are they all the same? Yes, kinda. Are they different? Yes, kinda. To make it more confusing, there are several other names by which these “small plate dishes” in Spain are called. But no synonyms for Petiscos come to mind. There certainly are Tapas bars in Portugal, but they’re an adaptation of the Spanish fare and not interchangeable with Petiscos. In America, I have yet […]

Pairing Portuguese Wines with Roasted Fowl

On cold winter evenings there’s nothing more heartwarming for this writer than a chicken roasting in the oven. The scent of herby seasonings enchant my senses and transport me to my mother’s kitchen in New Jersey where she roasts to perfection just as she learned to do back in the Old Country. In America, roasted turkey is considered one of the coziest meals in this country’s culinary repertoire. To meld the flavors of the Old and New worlds in my own kitchen, I need only to turn to my mother, Maria do Ceu, who along with her seven siblings was raised in the sleepy village of Bemposta do Campo in the interior Beira Baixa region of Portugal where roasting in […]

Gone Gluttoning: Savoring International Cuisine in Minnesota

Watching the snowflakes fall slowly to the ground from a warm and cozy kitchen in Minnesota, we couldn’t be happier to finally be among friends and family. A year away from home is a little torturous, in part, because our hot dish consumption goes down radically. Plus, we tend to go a little stir crazy without our annual dose of spicy chicken wings with gobs of blue cheese and a cold beer. Sure, it may not beat an evening of tapas paired with a bone dry Fino, but as Midwesterners, we need to restock on our ancestral cuisine. That said, we want to wish you all a very Happy Holiday season, filled with amazing wines, comfort food and the warm […]

Tawny versus Moscatel: Which Pairs Best with a Classic American Pie?

When Warre’s, one of the great Port wine companies put its Otima 10 bottle on the market, it was targeting a younger crowd with its cleaner and more modern packaging. It apparently worked for this 30-year-old wine drinker, who normally has a soft spot for the ornate, but in this case couldn’t resist how the minimally ornamented bottle allowed the burnt caramel-colored drink to take center stage. Since purchasing my first bottle of the ten-year-old Tawny ($20) four years ago, it’s been a staple of our home bar. However, this toffee-tasting treat shares the shelf with another favorite drink of mine, the Moscatel de Setubal (also in a contemporary bottle) by Bacalhoa ($12). And as if the north and south […]

Sopa da Pedra: A Humble Gastronomic Tale about Sharing

Have you ever heard the tale of Stone Soup? The legend of how this hearty soup came about is a popular one told throughout most European countries and was adapted to an American version by Marcia Brown. Each version is slightly different depending on your country or region and is usually influenced by varying historical or cultural references. However, at the base of each and every one is a uniting and heartfelt lesson about working together in times of need. The story of Stone Soup was told to me when I was very little, but remained a simple childhood story until I landed in Portugal several years ago. The Portuguese hold this tale very near and dear to their hearts, […]

Restaurante Me: Perfectly Fusing Cajun, Catalan and Vietnamese Gastronomy

I love surprises. I love meeting people that exceed my expectations with their loyalty and friendship, an article that dissolves my preconceived notions or ideas, a wine that leaves me stunned with its complexity, or god willing, a restaurant that makes me wish that each and every bite would linger in my mouth for an eternity. These experiences are far and few between, but when they do come, we have to share them with you! On Saturday evening, having enjoyed a lovely afternoon tasting various Cavas along the port in Barcelona in celebration of the Festival of Merce (read more about our experiences at Merce), our group of friends decided that we needed more than just some local tapas and […]

Tradition Meets Modernity: New Ideas for Old Tapas (Part II: Tortilla Española)

In Part I (Gazpacho), we began our journey in the heat of the south of Spain but now head to one of the country’s northern-most regions, Bilbao (as rumor/tradition has it) to modify another of Spain’s great signature dishes – tortilla española. Known by a few names – tortilla española, tortilla a la española, and tortilla de patatas – make no mistake this dish is one of Spain’s most popular and, actually, easiest to prepare. One note here: you can alter this dish in any way number of ways, but it can only be called “tortilla española” when it is cooked in the traditional method with eggs, potatoes, and onions. Anything else is just “tortilla de patatas” –not that this […]