A few weeks ago I stepped into Pátio da Galé, at Terreiro do Paço to attend the Peixe em Lisboa, or Lisbon Fish and Flavors, event for the second time. It was time to taste some of the food and wine that the talented chefs and wine makers of Portugal had to offer.
I attended Peixe em Lisboa for the first time last year with my fellow bloggers and Lisbon tour guides Andrea (American in Portugal Tours) and Mary (Your Lisbon Guide). They convinced me to come back to Lisbon and join them again this year (who are we kidding, I didn't need much coaxing!) to meet some new chefs, try some new food and taste some fantastic wine.
Wine. One thing that the Portuguese almost always do well is their vinho. Portuguese wines need to be more famous outside of Port wine and Vinho Verde. And they need to be marketed as Portuguese and not placed on a small shelf at the bottom of the Spanish wine section in both Canada (LCBO I'm talking to you) and the US.
They deserve their spot in the light and if the industry is smart they'd take advantage of it now.
The first wines tasted were from Quinta Da Murta. Hugo Mendes and Franck Bodin were kind enough to explain in depth with Andrea (our wine expert) about the wines. I'm no expert, but I know what I like and these wines, both the white and the red, were good, though I preferred the white. If I remember correctly, they do ship their wine outside Portugal, but don't quote me on it. They do wine tours however, so if you're in the area, I highly recommend them.
Another winemaker that produces lovely wines is Quinta de Chocapalha. I only tried their white wines paired with dishes from Tasca de Esquina. We were given three suggestions by the Chocapalha representative, all of which complimented the fish dishes nicely.
The best rosé of the day came from Bacalhoa. Loridos Rosé Bruto, is a sparkling wine that was described as "effervescent". I don't think I could have came up with a better word myself.
If red, white or rosé isn't what you prefer, there is always José Maria da Fonseca's Moscatel. José Maria da Fonseca is well know throughout Portugal as well as internationally. If you've seen Portuguese wine in the states or Canada, there is a chance that you've seen at least a couple of wines from JMF. But Moscatel isn't just any wine. It's a sweet fortified wine, much like port in that respect, but I find that it has a more earthy flavor. If you fancy a nice port, Moscatel is worth a try.
Food. The real reason I went to Peixe em Lisboa was the food. Portuguese food is usually simple and rustic. There is no need to get all crazy over spices and such when the food is just cooked well. But the chefs at Peixe em Lisboa don't just cook good food. They play with their food, they turn it into art that doesn't just look good or taste good, but does both deliciously.
These types of chefs make me want to be a chef when I grow up.
The first on my list (although this is not a list in order of deliciousness, just a list of yum) is Sea Me, whose kitchen is run by Chef Filipe Rodrigues. This was my first time meeting the chef, but Andrea and Mary had been fortunate enough to try Sea Me's food before the event.
Burguer de choco e salmão – A patty made of salmon and cuttlefish , layers of sliced tomato and thinly ribboned seaweed then sandwiched in a bun made of carob and topped with crispy fried onion. If you like salmon or fish, or even if you don't, this is a burger worth trying.
Niguiri de sardinha e Niguiri de bacalhau – Sardine nigiri sprinkled with salt and cod nigiri with sliced almonds. Lightly sear the top with a torch and you have Sea Me's Asian Portuguese fusion. It's food culture fusion done right and done incredibly well.
Pão de Deus com tártaro de bacalhau fresco e yuzu – “Pão de Deus” or “Bread of God” is a Portuguese sweet bread. In this dish it's become the sandwich bread for fresh cod tartar and yuzu fruit. For lovers of sweet and savory, this is your dish.
Carpaccio de abacaxi e coentros, gelado de alfazema e gengibre – Pineapple carpaccio topped with a scoop of lavender ginger ice cream and coriander seeds. This is light, it's refreshing and it's gorgeous to look at, enough said.
Chef Justa Nobre of Spazio Buondi, was my favorite to watch talk about her food while being interviewed, even if she didn't say a thing in English. There was passion in every word she spoke about her food and that alone would recommend her food and products to anyone.
Milfolhas de bacalhau com sapateira e esmagado de batata doce – Layers of cod, sweet potato and crab accompanied by a radish salad. OK I admit it, this isn't the most beautiful dish on camera, but it makes up for it wholeheartedly in flavor. Think sweet crab, with smooth sweet potato and codfish. It's good. Trust me.
Tosta de sapateira com salada verde – Toast topped with a layer of crab and by hard boiled egg white and yolk with a salad. A salad is a salad, but crab in any form is delicious. Spread it on a nice piece of toast and add egg, and I'm a happy lady. You would be too.
Camarões com molho de caril e favinhas de coentrada – Prawn with a subtle curry sauce, rice and cilantro. Many don't know it, but the Portuguese love their curry. They don't appreciate the same spicy curry that we are used to back in the states, but they love a flavorful version much like what you find in this dish. Let's just say I would have licked the plate clean of the sauce, but that would have been unseemly.
Raia com manteiga de amêndoas e puré de ervilhas – Ray with almond butter and pea purée. This is how fish can be made and showcased simply, deliciously and beautifully.
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Hungry for more? Look here for the second part of this year's Peixe em Lisboa!