Friday, 26 September 2014

Atravessando a ponte para delícias Crossing the bridge to deliciousness


Hoje,estava o nosso dia descanso primeiro depois meses do trabalho ( today was our first day off after months of hard work) so with an autumn spring in our step the thespian and I put our best foot forward and headed across the bridge to Spain.It was time for a little relaxez-vous and some care from the community.What better place to achieve this than in Plaza de la Laguna,the main square in Ayamonte where you can find La Puerta Ancha.


The lovely Clíodhna Browne gives you a big warm welcome, seats you and makes sure a bottle of Marcelo, our favourite Albarinho wine, is on the table while we make our selection. 
 La Puerta Ancha directly translated means "wide door"
In the past the bar was used as a stable for horses and carts to break their journey from the port to Portugal or further into the hinterland of Andalucia and far reaching Spain.Over a period of time the merchants, while stabling their animals, began to find a use for La Puerta in the form of a meeting place,and since the start of the century it evolved into a bar.It is now the oldest bar in Ayamonte, serving the most modern food but fantastically without losing its original structure and charm.This is all down to the food and ingredients being served with a modern twist under the creative culinary direction of Fabio Zerbo, originally from Piedmont in Italy.
Piquillo peppers with tuna and pea cream
Why do I love I love Fabio´s food so much? Well, when I started out in catering all those years ago, Piedmont was my original point of reference. Piedmont's cuisine is famous for its immense variety of antipasti and is also known for rich dishes featuring truffles and cream sauces, but it’s also Italy’s most culinarily progressive region.It is quite plain to see where Fabio's modern tapas menu is coming from.
Take for instance his Porcini mushroom risotto served with white truffle oil.The flatlands of Piedmont are the source of Europe’s prominent supplier of Carnaroli rice, prized for creamy risotto.Piedmont, which also happens to be Italy’s most developed and industrial area, has for a long time now been forging a new identity as an exciting and progressive restaurant region, where young local chefs have been playing catch-up (and forming close ties) with Spain’s avant-gardists.  No surprise then that this master of re-invention is finding ways of bringing together a myriad of international tapas style eating.

 Tuna tartare on seaweed wakame,where food becomes art

Fabio won the award in 2011 for best tapa of the region with his Minced beef in a sauce of mushrooms and melted strips of brie. He is constantly re-inventing and consequently favourite dishes die hard, as has been the case with one of my favourites the mouth watering Mussels sautéed with basil and cream.But there are stalwart dishes that we keep returning for,dishes so delicious you could never tire of.Taste for example the Tataki tuna with wasabi and pickled ginger or his take on chicken yakitori.This Michelin tyred chef, (yes in his former life Fabio worked for Michelin Tyres in Italy) will own his Michelin star.

Carpaccio of wild boar with parmesan and rocket
Our favourite  prawn skewers always something to return for
 Thank you Puerta Ancha for another lovely table of food
By the way You need "The Wide Door" to get out!”   


Thursday, 18 September 2014

Noelia heads north to fly the flag

                                             Photo: RAUL LUFINHA
No rescaldo da zaragata e chateado causada por um jornalista equivocada, Chef Noelia assume o papel de embaixador Algarvia culinária, e armado com Batterie de cuisine vai tomar de assalto a capital.

In the aftermath of the rumpus and upset caused by a misguided journalist,Chef Noelia takes on the role of East Algarve Culinary ambassador and armed with batterie de cuisine is going to take the capital by storm.

"Até parece que os algarvios fazem gata da sua antipatia"."Não há gordos nem sorrisos em algarve". "Em algumas destas terras, até podiamos fazer o casting para filmes de piratas". "Eles não sabem receber". "Eles estão ociosos". "Eles são indolentes".

"It seems that the Algarvians like to boast about their antipathy". "Some places would give a great spot for a casting of a pirate film". "They don't know how to welcome people". "They are idle". "They are indolent".

Estas palavras severas e equivocadas foram dirigidas a "Os algarvios" no mês passado em um artigo exagerada no jornal Expresso escrito pelo jornalista polêmico e franco Henrique Raposo.His palavras depreciativas deu origem a uma enorme onda de indignação no facebook e outros networks.His sociais acusação passou a acusar a região de sempre ter sido "desligado do resto do país" e "apenas juntando-se Portugal a partir do final década de 1960".

These harsh and misdirected words were addressed to "Os Algarvios" last month in an overstated Expresso newspaper article written by controversial and outspoken journalist Henrique Raposo.His derogatory tone gave rise to a huge wave of indignation on facebook and other social networks.His accusation went on to accuse the region of always having been "disconnected from the rest of the country"and "only having joined Portugal from the late 1960´s".

Se ele se inclinação para tomar uma jantar no Terraço do Hotel Tivoli, Lisboa entre os dias 8 e 19 Talvez ele não vai apenas engoliras suas palavras, mas também como o que é servido a ele por algarvia querida culinária Chef Noélia.
Em outubro,durante 12 dias a capital fica ainda mais interessante.Lisboa recebe o restaurante algarvio Noélia e Jeronimo.A cozinha regional está em alta com uma iniciativa Portugal de Norte a Sul.Agora,é a vez de Cabanas de Tavira se mostrar.Receitas coma a canja de conquilhas,as pataniscas de polvo ou os filetes de peixe -galo vão poder ser apreciadas com o Tejo como pano de fundo.Durante esses dias,o encanto da Ria Formosa muda-se para a Avenida da liberdade,pelas mãos talentosas do chef Noélia.A dupla tem feito sucesso no algarve,com longas filas de espera nos meses mais concorridos e uma aprovação quase unãnime quanto à qualidade no prato.e essa poderá ser comprovada à mesa do Terraço.

If O Senhor Raposo feels so inclined he could partake of dinner in the Terrace restaurant of Hotel Tivoli, in Lisbon, between the 8th and 19th October.Perhaps he might not only eat his words but also what is served to him on his plate by Algavian culinary sweetheart Chef Noélia. For 12 days the capital will play host to The Restaurant Noélia e Jeronimo.This North/ South initiative will demonstrate the rise in interest of regional cuisine, and it is now the turn of the Algarve to take a standpoint against this criticism and to show what it can do.Regional dishes such as a canja of conquilhas, octopus fritters or fillets of John Dory and other Noélia favourites will be served.The charm of the Ria Formosa will be transported for 12 days to the Avenida de Liberdade by the talented and creative hands of Chef Noelia.Lisbon diners will quickly understand the huge success she has achieved in The Algarve, causing long queues to form during the busiest months of the year to wait for a table.The unanimous accolade of approval she has received in The Algarve will prove itself again in the capital.

E se algum dia você visitar Castro Marim, O Senhor Raposo por favor, venha e vá para a "bem-vindo" nosso "ociosidade" e nossa "indolência" .It pode ser um despertar chocante para você.
And should you ever visit Castro Marim, O Senhor Raposo please come and check out our "welcome" our "idleness" and our "indolence".It might be a rude awakening for you.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Tapenade de Figo e amêndoa -cem por cent Portugues

Figs have a long and illustrious history (legend has it they were Cleopatra's favourite delicacy).This striking and bewitching fruit with its fleckled green or dark bluish red skin and succulent luscious deep pink flesh is plentiful in the market right now.Dont panic Mr Mannering, their season is long (from now until late October).Eaten sensually out of hand, figs are delicious; but using them in recipes, sweet or savoury, can turn them into a delicacy.I have made sauces,preserves,tarts and I haven´t tried it. but I believe they make a great pizza topping with goats cheese.But is there something we haven´t thought of?
Figs have a naturally high sugar content, making them a perfect complement for equally intense ingredients, such as salty prosciutto and soft cheeses.Last year I made a twist on tapenade with sweet smoky pequillo peppers and salty almonds.I decided to apply the same principal, but this time my thinking was perhaps a little more radical. A Franco/Italian fusion made with 100% Portuguese seasonal ingredients.I would Lusophonise the classic tapenade and then honour it by making Italian style tramezzini.First and foremost, forget about dried figs. If you've ever had fresh figs, you know there's a world of difference. Sweet and honeyed, fresh figs are something to be savoured. (After all, they were thought to be the food of the gods.)The figs you buy may not always look perfect, and that's okay. A bit of crackly skin is fine, but stay away from figs that are overly soft or oozy. A sign of a perfectly ripe fig is when you see a bit of bend in the stem and feel the skin is supple. Those should be eaten straight away, or used in the recipe below.

Tramezzini de figo e amêndoa
Thinly sliced soft white sandwich bread,crusts removed
(2 slices makes four triangular tramezzini )

FOR THE FILLING
1/4 cup black olives
1 fillet anchovy
1/2 tablespoon capers
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 garlic clove
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon brandy
2 FRESH figs
1 soup spoon almonds
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Blitz all the ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor.Add the olive oil and process again until you have an almost  smooth texture.Calculate how many tramezzini you require, then cut enough slices of bread.Spread the filling over two slices of bread and join together.Cut on the diagonal into quarters.Trim the sandwiches again to prevent any overhang.

Tramezzini are much like tea sandwiches, but more often like the revered tremoços, served with with aperitifs,a glass of cold beer or cocktails early evening.The combinations of fillings are infinite and,inevitably,wine worthy.Here are a few suggestions......

Tapenade and mozzarella ( I have to say my all time favourite for both taste and aesthetics)
Egg salad with anchovies and capers
smoked salmon and horseradish
Egg and avocado purée
Prosciutto with mustard and mascarpone
Chopped shrimp and lemon mayonnaise or aioli with watercress or rocket
green olive tapenade  tomatoes
Tuna pate
Chicken liver pate
Bresaola or Cecina with soft goat cheese or queijo fresco



Or if you want to eat it the simple French way, just smear your baguette with it.   - See more at: http://www.apronandsneakers.com/2013/01/mini-ham-sandwiches-with-olive-fig-and.html#sthash.IP0vCZYo.dpuf
Mini Ham Sandwiches With Olive, Fig and Almond Tapenade

Olive, Fig and Almond Tapenade

Ingredients:
Makes 1/2 cup
  • 1/4 cup black olives like Taggiasche (not the green olives in the pictures)
  • 1 fillet of anchovies
  • 1/2 tablespoon capers
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 garlic clove (or 1/2 - 1 whole if you like it more garlicky)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon brandy
  • 2 dried figs
  • 1 teaspoon almonds
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil of good quality
Directions:
  1. Soak the capers in water for 10 minutes then drain.  Squeeze out the excess liquid.  
  2. Mix all the ingredients except extra virgin olive oil in a blender.  
  3. While blending, pour the extra virgin olive oil slowly.  
  4. Keep refrigerated in a jar. 

To Compose the Mini Sandwiches:

Ingredients:
Makes 8 mini sandwiches
  • olive, fig and almond tapenade
  • 6 slices of cooked ham (depending on the size of your bread)
  • 6 slices of sandwich bread
  • mayonnaise
  • 8 pitted whole olives (optional)
Directions:
  1. Layer the following:  bread, tapenade, bread, mayonnaise, ham (double the ham if it's too thin), bread.  
  2. Slice away and discard the brown sides of the bread then slice to four parts.
  3. Top with olives if desired.
- See more at: http://www.apronandsneakers.com/2013/01/mini-ham-sandwiches-with-olive-fig-and.html#sthash.yVmISncI.dpuf
Mini Ham Sandwiches With Olive, Fig and Almond Tapenade

Olive, Fig and Almond Tapenade

Ingredients:
Makes 1/2 cup
  • 1/4 cup black olives like Taggiasche (not the green olives in the pictures)
  • 1 fillet of anchovies
  • 1/2 tablespoon capers
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 garlic clove (or 1/2 - 1 whole if you like it more garlicky)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon brandy
  • 2 dried figs
  • 1 teaspoon almonds
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil of good quality
Directions:
  1. Soak the capers in water for 10 minutes then drain.  Squeeze out the excess liquid.  
  2. Mix all the ingredients except extra virgin olive oil in a blender.  
  3. While blending, pour the extra virgin olive oil slowly.  
  4. Keep refrigerated in a jar. 

To Compose the Mini Sandwiches:

Ingredients:
Makes 8 mini sandwiches
  • olive, fig and almond tapenade
  • 6 slices of cooked ham (depending on the size of your bread)
  • 6 slices of sandwich bread
  • mayonnaise
  • 8 pitted whole olives (optional)
Directions:
  1. Layer the following:  bread, tapenade, bread, mayonnaise, ham (double the ham if it's too thin), bread.  
  2. Slice away and discard the brown sides of the bread then slice to four parts.
  3. Top with olives if desired.
- See more at: http://www.apronandsneakers.com/2013/01/mini-ham-sandwiches-with-olive-fig-and.html#sthash.yVmISncI.dpuf

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Using your noodle

 Udon noodles with mussels  and a ginger mint basil and coriander pesto

There´s a vegan in me kitchen what am I gonna do? Believe it or not I have never cooked a vegan meal before, but a few weeks ago the pressure was on when we had a vegan guest in the house and he and his partner requested dinner "Can he not have an egg or  a slice of wafer thin cheese"I said to the thespian.No was the affirmative response.Well donning my thinking head, noodles came to the fore. I had just made a batch of Ginger mint basil and coriander pesto which I usually serve as a dressing for fish salads, octopus,salmon or prawns.Well that would be no use to a vegan.Take the fish out of the equation though and I was on course for a delicious vegan dinner.Surprised? I think you will be. I have to say how surprised I was that the simple ingredients that I chose could create such spectacular flavour. I opted for Udon noodles, then tossed them in my pesto
 and then added diced cucumber, finely sliced radish,spring onion,finely julienned chilli, shallot and finished with a variation on a Thai noodle theme by replacing peanuts with a dusting of chopped pistachios.The final plate, a myriad of textures and flavours ....a little spicy, a little sweet, a little salty, very fresh and noodly al dente.

 Udon noodles with ginger mint basil and coriander pesto (vegan)

Fortuitously, we liked the dish so much it got me thinking of how else I could apply my signature pesto in a new way.I had never served it warm and thought back to a tapas dish of mussels served in a lemon cream sauce that Fabio serves at Puerta Ancha in Ayamonte.The citrus of the lime in my pesto would pair well with mussels tossed in a pesto cream sauce.I flexed my mussels and like Popeye and spinach without Olive Oil I had served up an innovative and spectacular plate.