Posts Tagged : gastronomy

Bulls – A Rodízio restaurant of quality in Matosinhos

Text José Silva | Translation Bruno Ferrerira

In Matosinhos, in a space that was already home for several restaurants over the past two decades, an investor decided to create a restaurant that is mostly dedicated to the much popular and traditional Brazillian Rodízio (all-you-can-eat). – Bulls.

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Entrance – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

Setting off from facilities with a very strong presence of granite rock they decided to keep that rock beauty effect and added wooden slats to the floor and the ceiling. The huge background wall that has the restaurant’s name is white.

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Big white wall – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

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The Counter- Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

The counter is large and holds some of the wines that compose the long wine list, which complements well the overall quality of what’s served. The room is big but cozy, the tables very are well-set and have everything needed to enjoy a nice meal.

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The Counter – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

This is a rodizio restaurant but the products are of great quality starting with the meat types that are used. The service is professional and in charge of someone that already works with this kind of menus for many years.

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Caipirinha – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

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Quail Eggs – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

Back to the beverages. The much popular caipirinha had to be present and I must say it is very well prepared. But, once again the difference lies in the great quality of the aguardente and cachaça used.

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Cheese Balls – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

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Bola de carne – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

Already on the table and to join the first caipirinha came quail eggs, fried onion, tasty and fluffy cheese balls, bola de carne, codfish balls, rissoles and croquettes, and a beautiful octopus salad very well-seasoned.

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Entries – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

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Octupus salad – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

The natural choice of the next thing to eat was the rodizio, which started with the traditional chicken drumsticks, linguiça Toscana and steak with cheese. Then it was time for very crispy french fries, farofa (a toasted manioc or maize flour mixture), and loose dry rice to match the creamy black beans and the well-seasoned cabbage Mineira.

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White rice – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

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Farofa – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

In the kitchen several meats were still being worked, cooked in live fire: hump steak, rib, sirloin, tri tip and filet steak (in this case the normal version and the garlic version, both delicious).

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Meat – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

And so it began the festival of fantastic meats in long iron skewers, sliced at the table with very sharp knives in very thin slices. To those who like it there was a bit of chili sauce to liven up the meat taste. And we ate once, and then again, and again and again until we were full and satisfied.

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Hump steak – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

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Sirloin – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

But there was still a little room for some slices of grilled pineapple sprinkled with a bit of cinnamon. A great rodizio in a space of very good taste. But there are other options in the menu, from fish to meat. You can go from tiger shrimp to codfish to the traditional oven roasted kid. The fruit and some of the desserts (made on the restaurant) complete an excellent meal where meats of high quality shine very high. I recommend a walk on the seaside afterwards…

Contacts
Bulls | Restaurante de Rodizio
Rua Brito e Cunha, 515
4450-088, Matosinhos
Tel: (+351) 229 381 184
Email: geral@bulls.pt or reservas@bulls.pt
Website: www.bulls.pt

Castas e Pratos restaurant

Text José Silva | Translation Jani Dunne

An already very acclaimed fine dining establishment that has constantly evolved, year after year, providing a very consistent, rigorous, and steady history, whether in culinary services or choices of food.

It started as a smart restoration of part of an old ralway warehouse in Régua, which was close to being demolished.

Besides the creation of a huge high-ceiling room and beautiful timberwork, a lot of glass was added to let the natural light in along with the view of the neighbouring Douro river. On the other side we see a stop for the restless trains.

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The Entrance in www.facebook.com/castasepratos

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Mezzanine in www.facebook.com/castasepratos

A mezzanine hosts the meal room, and in the lower floor, a long, broad room with a table that stretches out almost filling the room, and big majestic lights.

The walls are completely coated in cupboards holding the hundreds of references of wine brands, which compose one of the best wine lists in Douro.

They haldle their wine properly – with a lot of care. We can enjoy a glass of wine as we read a magazine or a paper, although we may go for a meal instead.

A meeting point, perhaps for a chat, and with wine for company.

Outside, an old transport carriage has been adapted and now makes a delightful terrace when the weather is good, bringing out the view of the train station.

Upstairs, the tables are always expertly laid, impeccable; the service is clearly above-average, availing of able and insightful professionals to guide us through a consistent and very well-interpreted cuisine.

Douro deserves such a restaurant. On our last visit, we had a peaceful, high-quality meal, accompanied of several wines served by the glass and chosen by the head waiter.

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Muxagat Xistos Altos White 2012 – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

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Codfish – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

Regional bread, olive oil and olive oil with balsamic vinegar were brought to the table.

We began with a Vértice White 2010, which had been decanted; excellent, evolved, very elegant, creamy – a great wine. The years it spent in the bottle have only done it good.

After that came a partridge and penny-bun stew: extremely creamy, well connected, the refined poultry meat bonded well with the intense and dry flavours of the penny-bun mushrooms – excelent. The wine matched it perfectly.

Then followed some codfish with almond crust and prawn brandade. Au point, the brandade; very well connected and providing the softness of the shrimp; the flaked codfish and the detail of the almond crust were very successful.

We drank the Muxagat Xistos Altos White 2012, which was very mineral, elegant, intense, dry, slightly evolved, with beautiful acidity. It really did very well.

In contrast, still with the cod, we tried a red Encosta do Bocho Reserva 2009, which was a lovely surprise. The nose was full of fruit and notes of vanilla, slightly floral, and very complex. Beautiful volume, full-bodied, excellent acidity contrasting with ripe tannins that were well matched with the wood. With intense dark fruit, this is a powerful yet balanced wine. The year 2009 still manages to surprise me.

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Encosta do Bocho – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

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Dessert – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

For dessert, we were given a volcano of pumpkin with queijo da serra ice cream (a cheese from Serra da Estrela mountain).

A true explosion of flavours, this reinterpretation of the sophisticated version of the classic connection of queijo da serra with pumpkin jam.

It was superbly accompanied by Casa de Santa Eufémia Reserva Branco Velho (white) Port, which is over 30 years old. A crystal-clear ambar, exuberant nose, intense nuts, elegance, tangerine peal, very refreshing. Beautiful volume, intense, vibrant acidity, dry, walnuts and hazelnuts, a lot of freshness, complexity, greedy; an excellent Port wine.

On our second glass, we toasted to this Castas e Pratos, to the wine, and to Douro…

Contacts
Castas & Pratos
Peso da Régua | Portugal
Tel: (+351) 254 323 290
E-mail: info@castasepratos.com
Webmail: www.castasepratos.com

Adega Matos, An Old-Fashioned Wine Cellar

Text José Silva | Translation Jani Dunne

Lamego is a very old city. It’s full of history, and gastronomy is very important. Smoked sausages range from salpicão [thick pork sausage], chouriço and alheira [bread, garlic and mixed-meat sausage]; the excellent presunto [prosciutto], the typical bolas [meat cakes] made with thin-crust dough; be it sardines, codfish, presunto or the most popular: mixed meats. These products are still processed in the same way today, which is a big tradition in the city of Lamego and the surrounding region. Some proper eateries, however, have maintained their excellent food based on the regional recipe book and use many of the products above.

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Adega Matos – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

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The counter and the wines – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

Behind the Sé de Lamego [cathedral], in a narrow granite-stone street, we can easily find one of those establishments, Adega Matos. It’s a very simple venue with a small window and a long counter at the entrance.

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The ground floor room – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

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Panel of tiles – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

The room in the ground floor is small yet cosy and welcoming; the walls display a few panels of tiles and in the back we find the very organised and tiny kitchen where the owner bosses pots and pans round. She uses the oven a lot, which is traditional in the North. Up in the first floor, a bigger room hosts a higher number of customers. Tables are laid simply and the service is quite personalised, under the [other] owner’s guidance, as he leads us through the house’s different specialties.

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The couple – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

This couple has been managing this kitchen for over 35 years, although it existed for longer and is one of the oldest in the city. The aroma floating around the room with the tables sets us up for the good stuff, which will eventually come to our table.

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Bread – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

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Codfish buns – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

The bread and broa [corn bread] arrived straight away along with a few delicious appetisers: codfish buns, well-sliced ham, a delicious and crunchy meat bola, gizzards, eels, fried small river fish and sardines in pickling brine.

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Ham – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

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Crunchy meat bola – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

The vegetable soup of the day was, of course, a part of this meal.

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Bacalhau à Brás – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

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Polvo à Lagareiro – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

Then we had the choice of a damp and tasty Bacalhau à Brás [pulled cod fried with toothpick chips], a decent piece of cod roasted in the oven or an excellent Polvo à Lagareiro [roast octopus with potatoes].

In the meat section, there was more to choose from: charcoal-roasted alheira, thin pork steak or veal steak also grilled over charcoal.

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Lamb – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

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Roast potatoes – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

For more substantial courses, we can choose from oven-roast lamb or veal, which come with marvellous also roast potatoes and a delicious oven-rice, which is served in an iron pot; irresistible.

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Rice – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

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Lazy Rice – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

Just as irresistible was the “lazy rice” [watery] with salpicão, a very typical dish in this region, which is prepared with precision in Adega Matos; generous round slices of delicious salpicão, the rice was indeed “lazy” yet gummy, and red beans; wonderful. They have wine from private producers and some wines in the region accompany this type of food very well.

The same happened with the Três Raposas Colheita 2010 Tinto: it was structured, had volume on the mouth, and felt strong; really good.

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Três Raposas Colheita 2010 Tinto – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

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Desserts – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

As for dessert, we tasted a few sweets such as custard – either with cinnamon or with a broiled top – a very well prepared chocolate mousse and delightful fritters, which were crunchy and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. A quick chat with the owners transported us to times gone by, back to the story of the house, to the traditions behind the cuisine they practice, the quality of the products they use and the paramount need to preserve this immense heritage that is a part of Portuguese popular culture. A walk in the city’s fresh air is compulsory…

Contacts
Rua Trás da Sé, 52
5100 Lamego
Tel: (+351) 254 612 967
Mobile: (+351) 968 894 170
E-mail: restaurante_lamego1@sapo.pt
Website: adegamatos.no.sapo.pt

Toca da Raposa, a place to hide in Douro…

Text José Silva | Translation Jani Dunne

Throughout the last few years, a number of places in Douro have emerged that specialise on serving good food, with quality, and using genuine products that have earned a safe spot on the market and are now sought after by both Portuguese people and foreigners. This is also thanks to the word spreading on social media, which is nowadays an ever more valuable and easily accessible tool.

In Ervedosa do Douro, a small village on the side of the road that climbs from the river bed up to S. João da Pesqueira, one of those places opened a few years ago, called Toca da Raposa [“The Fox’s Den”]. Right on the side of the road, but with plenty of parking space in front, we are welcomed into a very cosy and welcoming place. It’s well decorated, sober, and with very good taste.

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Toca da Raposa – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

A few tables stand at the entrance; then, you see a broad counter and a few more tables, a wooden floor, some wooden walls and others in schist, many shelves filled with bottles of wine, which they also work very well with here.

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Toca da Raposa – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

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Toca da Raposa – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

The mother directs the kitchen like a pro, her hands making pure magic at times; the daughter runs the room with knowledge and good taste, presenting the dishes and proposing high-quality wines to go with the meal. Douro wines naturally cover most of the menu. The result is always magnificent, offering visitors well-presented intense meals with plenty of variety, from appetisers to more elaborate main courses, with balanced seasoning on perfectly-cooked food that always enhances the quality of the products used. After selecting the food, when we shift to the choice or choices of wine, we can always count on the daughter to show us the wines on the shelves and in the long list; they are not there just by any chance. You can tell she is a knowledgeable, enlightened person who knows the wines, where they come from, their characteristics, and the many harmonisations that come through with the different dishes on the menu. This is not unrelated to the fact that many producers of the Douro region – and that area especially – come by to eat. S. João da Pesqueira is the municipality of this region with the highest amount of Douro wine producers. On our last visit, after we were comfortably sat at our table, we nibbled on a few toasted almonds that came with a 10 Year Old White Port by Andresen, served at the right temperature. Very good.

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Míscaros mushrooms – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

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Fried octopus filets – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

Immediately afterwards, a delicious regional bread was served with very well-prepared appetisers: very tasty míscaros mushrooms (man on horseback/yellow knight) grilled with olive oil, and fried octopus filets with soft batter.

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Small river fish – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

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Toasted alheira – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

Then, delicious small river fish fried in pickling brine, a delicious toasted alheira with a slightly sharp taste and a crunchy skin, served with sautéed plump greens.

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To close the session of appetisers – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

To close the session of appetisers and “watermill flavours”, we had toasted regional bread with olive oil, presunto, and cheese in olive oil. Excellent! So far, we had drunk the white Gambozinos Reserva 2013, that was always level with the food; we moved on to a red, Beira Douro Colheita 2012, both charged by the glass.

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Míscaros rice – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

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Bízaro-pig steaks – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

The red made a good accompaniment for the míscaros rice – prepared to perfection, creamy and tasty, with grilled, thin Bízaro-pig steaks from the neck.

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Grilled kid – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

And we still had grilled kid with stewed potatoes and sautéed cabbage – very well cooked countryside food.

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Dessert – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

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Dessert – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

Already pushing it, but with a 2008 LBV Port by Noval in our hands, we started on the almond pie, egg pudding, a mountain cheese with quince jam, and nuts, which left us exhausted… but delighted.

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The Douro – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

Then we moved down to Pinhão, to see the Douro, always his old self…

Surf n Turf

Text Ilkka Sirén

It’s no secret that most Portuguese wine regions are still unknown for most people. They are even quite unknown for people working in the wine industry. Portugal has gained some fame in the past few years as a wine country of good quality wines that doesn’t kill your wallet. This being said Portugal has every opportunity to produce wines of such stature that they probably will kill your wallet. That much we know. Still, as a hopeless romantic I’m just a tiny bit scared that mysterious wine country I once fell in love with is becoming more and more mainstream. Such is the burden of a genuine wine hipster, I guess.

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Wine Glass – Photo by Ilkka Sirén | All Rights Reserved

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Chorizo – Photo by Ilkka Sirén | All Rights Reserved

But I needn’t worry. Portugal with its kazillion native grape varieties will keep the busy soccer mom away from the ever so confusing variety names like Touriga Nacional and Tinta Pinheira, just to name a few. Many of my friends who have travelled to Portugal went in completely unaware of Portuguese wines but they left as huge fans. As did I.

I personally like to use wine when I’m cooking. Not in the food necessarily but as a source of inspiration. As I started slicing the spicy chorizo for my pasta I suddenly, but not surprisingly, got thirsty. One of Portugal’s strengths is definitely the good value for money wines which can be a blessing and a curse at the same time. Easy-going, quaffable and affordable wines of different styles flow in and out of glasses with considerable ease.

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Surf n Turf Pasta – Photo by Ilkka Sirén | All Rights Reserved

While preparing the spicy shrimp and chorizo “Surf n Turf” pasta my mind wandered towards Bairrada. A cheeky little blend from Bagaland is just what the doctor ordered. I got my hands on Torre de Coimbra 2012. A blend of Baga, Touriga Nacional and Tinta Pinheira made by LusoVini. An export wine for sure because in all my travel in Portugal I’ve never seen a wine with a screw cap. I’m sure there is some it’s just not very common a country where the cork trees almost sacred. We in the cold north wouldn’t recognize a cork tree from a palm tree so screw caps are a very popular choice of closure.

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Torre de Coimbra 2012 – Photo by Ilkka Sirén | All Rights Reserved

The wine itself was, hmm, what is the scientific term for it…”just OK”. Well, considering that it’s less than 10 euros from the monopoly shop over here it wasn’t too bad. A very straightforward, fruity wine with a touch of oak. It might come as a surprise but finding a decent bottle of wine under 10 euros in Finland is easier said than done. We get plenty of polished techno-wines that are everything but interesting. This bugger from Bairrada actually resembles a proper wine hence it is a proper wine. I’m not going to lose sleep over it but I could see myself drinking more of this. If not else just as a source of cooking inspiration.

Contacts
Lusovini Distribuição, SA
Avenida da Liberdade nº 15, Areal
3520-061 Nelas, Portugal
Tel: +351 232 942 153
Fax: +351 232 945 243
Email: info@lusovini.com
Website: www.lusovini.com

Camelo restaurant – a Minho classic with proper regional food…

Text José Silva | Translation Jani Dunne

It’s been over 25 years since the Camelo family opened this great eatery in Santa Marta de Portuzelo, on national road no. 202 a few miles away from Viana do Castelo. They have focused on regional food from the start, and especially on using many excellent ingredients.

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Camelo Restaurant – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

The Camelo restaurant has seen steady growth; they started working as a venue early on and now have many rooms that can fit up to 1000 people. In the summer, they get incredible amounts of business!

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Camelo Restaurant – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

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Camelo Restaurant – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

But none of this has affected the Camelos’ judgment. They have a very comfortable old room, masonry block on the walls, personalised service, and very well set tables offering the best of conditions for our big meals. It’s advisable to book a table, especially for the weekends, because it usually books up all-year-round. Mr. Camelo is constantly running round; he greets us with a joke: “Have you seen any [camels] round?”

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The Bar – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

At the entrance, a cosy waiting room with sofas and a bar right beside it offer a more welcoming wait, just in case our table isn’t free yet. Especially because, besides the house’s iconic dishes, some are especially sought after in certain seasons, as people travel long distances especially. The shad and lamprey season is one – from January until April – and the many lamprey dishes (à bordalesa (Sliced, marinated in white wine and boiled in its own blood and vinegar, served with rice or toast), in rice, or roasted in the oven, among others) are extraordinary, and are cooked with high-quality lampreys from Lima river. The shad, fried in thin pieces, with a big lettuce salad, and a panada made with the roe is unavoidable. On every second Sunday of the month, crowds pour in to enjoy a tremendous cozido à portuguesa [a Portuguese-style meat stew], which is a little hard to describe.

There is plenty of choice of appetisers – codfish buns, codfish cakes, chouriço, salpicão [both are smoked sausages], orelheira [pig’s ear], and boiled snout-and-onion chouriça – and sometimes the peculiar caralhas: beef (steer) giblets poached in verde tinto wine [green-red] from Perre – delicious.

The soups are excellent – from the seasonal vegetable soup to caldo verde (Soup of potato and Caldo Verde kale with slices of chouriço), chicken soup, and even the superb papas de sarrabulho (Mash of boiled meats, with flour, blood and boiled liver) garnished with a lot of cumin!

Being close to the see brings in some seafood and very fresh fish: sea bass, hake, sea bream, turbot, sole – which is plainly grilled, plainly boiled, or cooked just like the Camelo-style hake. Codfish always makes a strong presence, as one expects in Minho. Besides the more traditional preparations, Camelo-style codfish is one of the most popular; always a tall piece, soaked to perfection and very well accompanied. But the meats are what stand out in this traditional-style restaurant’s menu – be it pork, beef or poultry.

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Minho-style rojões – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

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Arroz de sarrabulho – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

The complete Minho-style rojões [meat cubes], which may be served with a side of arroz de sarrabulho [rice cooked in pork blood], the tasty and soft barrosã steak, or a decent beef chop (steer).

The Serra dArga oven-roast kid delights its fans. Plus, that ode to Portuguese cuisine that is cockerel with arroz de cabidela [rice in blood sauce] is called “the barefoot cockerel” here, reflecting typical Minho humour. Besides the cockerels raised in this property, many other animals are raised by neighbouring farmers, who are trusted by the Camelos.

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Arros de Cabidela – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

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The house’s red vinho verde – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

Hard, tasty meat wrapped in carolino rice – cooked to perfection – peer from under the lid of the iron pot that just arrived at our table. The very important touch of wine vinegar livens the mixture. What a concoction!

The house’s red vinho verde, served in a bowl, made just the right kind of company. Does the feast end here?! Not at all, desserts are on their way and come in a seemingly endless parade. The leite-creme [crème brulée], the flan and the rice pudding confirm tradition – excellent.

Our goodbyes are, as always, a “see you soon”…

Contacts
Rua de Santa Marta 119
Estrada Nacional 202 – Santa Marta de Portuzelo
Viana do Castelo, 4900-252
Portugal
Tel: (+351) 258 839 090
Website: www.camelorestaurantes.com

The New Chryseia 2013…

Text José Silva | Translation Jani Dunne

This time, the Prats & Symington partnership, between the Symington family and French oenologist Bruno Prats, have selected chef José Avillez’s restaurant Belcanto in Lisbon to present their new wines: Prazo de Roriz Douro Doc 2012, Post Scriptum Douro Doc 2013 and the cherry on the cake, Chryseia Douro Doc 2013.

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José Avillez – Photo Provided by Prats & Symington | All Rights Reserved

Representing the Symington family, Rupert Symington came along with Bruno Prats, who once owned Château Cos d’ Estournel, in Bordeaux, before he fell in love with Douro. Let us be reminded that the 2011 Chryseia was considered the third best wine of the world by North-American magazine Wine Spectator in 2014! It thus sold out quickly, and was immediately followed by the 2012 vintage. The market has been out of Chryseia ever since. Therefore, everybody present shared curiosity and anxiety to taste the new vintage, Chryseia 2013.

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Rupert Symington – Photo Provided by Prats & Symington | All Rights Reserved

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Bruno Prats – Photo Provided by Prats & Symington | All Rights Reserved

We were welcomed with quality and friendliness, which this venue has always delivered. We started, as is traditional of the Symington family, with the Paul Roger champagne, in this case the Brut Rosé Vintage 2006, which tasted superb and at the right temperature even though it was a hot day. While in a chatting mood, we enjoyed the several delicious appetisers being served round the room to accompany the champagne, or vice-versa, poured with the finesse one expects from a two-Michelin-star restaurant: round lupin seeds with kaffir-lime and piripiri (chilli pepper), XL-LX olives and cherry gazpacho. The tone was set.

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Prazo de Roriz 2012 – Photo Provided by Prats & Symington | All Rights Reserved

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“A horta da galinha dos ovos de ouro” – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

Already at the table, we were poured a Prazo de Roriz Douro Doc 2012, with the typical deep-ruby appearance. The nose presented a lot of very ripe fruit, notes of blackberry and plum and a light floral aroma. Very voluminous on the mouth, full, intense, but elegant; plump dark fruit, acidity and freshness in perfect balance, and a good finish; a wine that can still evolve in the bottle for a few years. It accompanied the Ferrero Rocher, roast chicken, and the chef’s own creation, called A horta da galinha dos ovos de ouro [The vegetable garden of the goose that laid the golden eggs], eggs, crunchy bread, and mushrooms… Art by chef Avillez’s kitchen right there on our tables.

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Post Scriptum 2013 – Photo Provided by Prats & Symington | All Rights Reserved

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Charcoal-roasted red mullet – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

We were still leaning back in our chairs, enjoying those amazing flavours, when we were served the Post Scriptum Douro Doc 2013. Of a deep, dark garnet, it revealed fresh notes of figs, plums, blackberries, and some spices. On the mouth, it proves very young, fresh, with excellent acidity, intense tannins, but it’s already very well matched to the fruit, leaving a lasting and delicious finish. This paid very good company to the charcoal-roasted red mullet with liver sauce and Bulhão Pato-style clam purée, a very elegant and refreshing, delicious dish.

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Chryseia 2013 – Photo Provided by Prats & Symington | All Rights Reserved

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Superb ox-tail – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

The most awaited moment arrived; Chryseia Douro Doc 2013 was swishing around in glasses, in a dark, intense, opaque garnet. Very exotic on the nose, of characteristic aromas of dark fruits, yet some raspberries, light spicy notes. Despite the intense tannins, this wine is extremely elegant, round, well-structured and has a never-ending finish. It will last a very long time… That is, if it makes it thus far! It stood up very well to a superb ox-tail with chickpeas, foie gras, veal tendons, onion cream, and cheese from the Azores Island. It was hard to describe, given the complex flavours in this very high-level dish, which made a perfect match for the Chryseia. Dessert was yet to come, and the Quinta de Roriz Porto Vintage 2000 was served; a Douro classic, still very dark in the glass, with intense dark-fruit aromas and already revealing light notes of nuts and some chocolate.

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The dessert – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

Very voluminous on the mouth, and full of structure, a lot of fruits, notes of spices, smoke, wild plants, a wine that will not stop evolving, with a very lasting finish. It accompanied a disconcerting dessert: chocolate, banana and peanut, for a perfect end to the meal…

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Quinta de Roriz Porto Vintage 2000 – Photo Provided by Prats & Symington | All Rights Reserved

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Graham’s 30 Year Old Tawny Port – Photo Provided by Prats & Symington | All Rights Reserved

With the top-up espresso and the petit fours, the Symington family tawny tradition: Graham’s 30 Year Old Tawny Port, full of nuts, crispy, extraordinarily elegant, a great Port wine.

Cheers!

Contacts
Quinta de Roriz
São João da Pesqueira
5130-113 ERVEDOSA DO DOURO
Portugal
Tel: +351-22-3776300
Fax: +351-22-3776301
E-mail: info@chryseia.com
Website: www.chryseia.com

Areia Restaurant Bar, a delicious meal by the sea

Text José Silva | Translation Jani Dunne

One day, this genuine Minho lady, born in Caminha, decided to devote herself to cooking, a passion that gradually took her over, and is now her whole life. Fishing is, together with agriculture, one of the main sources of income in the district; taking all this into account, Margarida Rego started researching, studying, tasting and trying to get to know products at the higher end. And so she continued creating dishes, making changes and even some provocations, without neglecting the traditional good things from her homeland. She also enjoys meeting her suppliers, some of which are also her friends.

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The Beach – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

These were the reasons why she embarked on managing a space which isn’t much more than a beach hut, Areia Restaurant Bar, in the beautiful Praia do Carreço, a bit further north of Viana do Castelo.

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The Restaurant – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

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The Restaurant – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

Margarida still keeps the place as a beach hut, where she serves snacks; however she has adapted it – both indoors and the terrace outside – to serve her very unique cuisine, which evolves according to what becomes available, especially products that come out of the sea: sea urchins, red-beak goose barnacles, rock crab, the always excellent bream, – and when it’s tastier – the very octopus, john dory, sea bass, prawns in their season, and a real passion for seaweed from that very same sea, and which she cooks superbly. The meat as well; either pork, beef of the barrosão or cachena breed, depending on what is available.

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The al-fresco area – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

Besides, there’s all that modern and airy modest space right on the sand, fully invaded by that amazing landscape, and the all-mighty sea in the background. The service is remarkable, with quality staff, who serve you pleasantly and efficiently throughout the meal, including an exquisite wine service.

Although it was a bit windy, we decided for the al-fresco area, which turned out right. Bottles were opened after having been kept cool in a frappé, while we drank them.

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Bread – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

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Percebes – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

Various kinds of bread were served, with olive oil and different condiments; all of a sudden the percebas (or goose barnacles in the north of Portugal) appeared, absolutely gorgeous!

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Rock Crab – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

Immediately followed by already opened rock crabs, full of eggs, tasting of the sea.

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The ready-peeled sautéed prawns – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

Also tasting of the sea were the ready-peeled sautéed prawns on a bed of delicious seaweed, their antennae were well fried and crunchy; we ate them all.

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The dish with its contents – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

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The dish poured with rock crab broth – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

That’s when the first provocation arrived – a rock crab soup. First, they served the dish with its contents, and immediately poured the rock crab broth over them; excellent.

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Octupus – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

The octopus was very tender, served with batata a murro (literally punched baked potato), sautéed cabbage and a very soft red pepper foam – very good.

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John dory fillet – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

Margarida’s second provocation followed, an excellent john dory fillet on a bed of green beans and various types of seaweed – symbolizing both the countryside and the beach, which you can see on either side – and also a celery and garlic purée.

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Sea urchin – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

To rinse our palate and prepare for meat, we were surprised with a sea urchin, very refreshing with little bits of strawberry.

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Barrosã meat – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

Then it was time to eat meat, or barrosã in this case, it was cooked just right, very tasty, with a side dish of delicious mushroom risotto and a green salad where rocket and purslane stood out.

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Chocolate mousse – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

The meal ended with a superb chocolate mousse, sprinkled with… salt flower, and the effect was unbelievable.

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The Wines – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

During the meal, we strolled through the António Futuro whites, a modern and appetising young vinho verde by Vale de Ambrães; another verde was already mature, well structured, and consistent; then, the elegance of an Alvarinho by Quinta de Santiago, mineral, saline, and very refreshing. The Ortigão sparkling wine brought along a young and very lively modern Bairrada to prepare us for the right Alentejano: complex, very elegant, well matched with the wood, the Esporão Reserva. At last, a delicious Quinta da Manoella appeared on the scene, Douro in all its strength. For the last drink, a Port full of tradition, Quinta Seara d’ Ordens LBV 2010, that lingered in the mouth for a long time.

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The Sea – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

The sea, oh well… it was still right in front of us…

Contacts
Areia Restaurante Bar
Praia de Carreço
4900-278 Carreço
Viana do Castelo – Portugal
Tel: (+351) 258 821 892
E-mail: geral@areia-restaurantebar.com
Website: www.areia-restaurantebar.com

Brasão, a successful restaurant that treasures tradition…

Text José Silva | Translation Jani Dunne

It’s near Felgueiras, and has been practising traditional cuisine for quite a while, even after the required modernisation  of the premises. Entirely leaded by Mr. Carvalho, the owner and chef de cuisine with has an undeniable passion for what he does.

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Brasão – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

Brasão it’s a very pleasant space, with two separate dining rooms, both displaying the same care for table layout and for the attentive and professional service.

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Two Rooms – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

Even though the kitchen is his main post, our host is always running back and forth, ensuring his customers are not neglected, and going from table to table to greet them and find out what they feel like having. He’ll come back to the tables later on, to find out about how they liked it, always wearing a smile and the wisdom of many years handling these products and the kitchen. The point is exactly the quality of the products, for only first class ingredients make part of their stock, from fresh fish from the coast to cod, and all the meats: either pork, beef or calf, and mountain lamb, all of which he turns into unbelievable dishes. This excellent professional reveals a restless search for perfection, even when preparing a mere dessert. Wine is another of his passions, and real treasures can be found in his well-stocked cellar (just to mention an amazing collection of bottles of aguardente – rum-like liquor or spirit –, about which Mr Carvalho is deeply knowledgeable. On our last visit, we were served bread and broa (corn-bread), salpicão (pickled-pork sausage) and thinly sliced presunto (salted or smoked ham) while we waited for one of the house specialities: grouper soup.

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Small Toasts – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

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Grouper soup – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

It’s a real tribute to quality, very fresh fish in generous portions, garlic, lots of onion, green and red pepper, and coriander.

Some toast on a plate, a generous ladle, a bit more steaming broth, an overpowering aroma, and finally voluptuousness, as you eat with your eyes closed.

Afterwards, we tasted a superb oxtail stew with greens, which is very hard to describe such was its perfection, texture and flavour; amazing! Then, another bestseller usually only available on Wednesdays (or by order): roasted ox spareribs.

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“Rabo de Boi” – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

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Roastec Ox Ribs – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

The slab of baby back ribs is seasoned and roasted in one piece and then carved in front of you, after the coat of fat is removed.

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The Main Course – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

On your plate, you get slices of meat with that tasty layer of fat, crunchy sliced-potato chips, black beans and a sinful oven-baked rice, which also accompanied the oxtail. We are over the moon!

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Carrot Cake – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

That’s when dessert is served, an ensemble duet composed of toucinho do céu (‘Bacon from heaven’, a rich-custard sweet which includes no bacon whatsoever) and of a fantastic carrot cake: soft, sprinkled with sugar and slices of roasted almonds, pumpkin jam and some spearmint leaves… now this is heaven on Earth!

The wines were up to scratch: first we drank a white from the Amarante area, called Sem Igual (Nothing like it); very floral, with notes of citrus and white fruit, a remarkable elegance on the mouth, a beautiful modern wine. To “counterbalance” the meats, no better than a sparkling red made from the Vinhão variety, Afros Yakkos Grand Reserve 2006. Simply fantastic, with very fine bubbles, persistent fruits of the forest, notes of dark chocolate, intense yet simultaneously elegant tannins, and a long lasting finish. To go along with the dessert, the choice of an old aguardente – really old –, the classic Adega Velha. This one was over 50 years old; beautiful, slightly cooled, with toasted aromas, dried fruits, in a lovely contrast with the sweetness.

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Sem Igual, Afros Yakkos Grande Reserva 2006 & Aguardente Velha Adega Velha – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

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Aguardente Velha Serradayres – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

However, a surprise was yet to come, just the way Mr Carvalho’s likes it: another very old aguardente, which I hadn’t seen for 10 years, a Serradayres. Also over fifty years old, incredibly soft and very elegant, it made a perfect finish for a great meal.

In Brasão, tradition is kept alive…

Contacts
Cimo de Vila – Refontoura
4610 Felgueiras
Tel: (+351) 255 336 118
E-mail: info@restaurante-brasao.pt
Website: www.restaurante-brasao.pt

Craving for Crayfish

Text Ilkka Sirén |

Yes. It’s that time of the year again. Like every year on 21st of July at noon the crayfishing season starts. And like every year I’m both excited and just a tiny bit scared. All though very delicious the crayfish brings with it a series of long dinner parties where aquavit schnapps flows like water. But we will get back to that in a minute.

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Going crayfishing with my son – Photo by Ilkka Sirén | All Rights Reserved

The crayfish season is open from 21st of July until the end of October. That’s the only period when you can legally catch crayfish. You can find the little creatures in some rivers and lakes. Like with mushrooms the locations of the best spots to catch crayfish are secrets that people usually keep to themselves. I’m fairly new to crayfishing but already I’m scanning my lake for the best spots and I wont make a big noise if I do find a great location. Why? I’m not sure but I think that’s just the nature of the game. I usually go with a small rowing boat and place the crayfish traps in the afternoon. These small and tasty crustaceans are usually active during the night. So, normally you would go check the traps maybe just before you go to sleep and very early in the morning.

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Dill – Photo by Ilkka Sirén | All Rights Reserved

The hard part is catching the crayfish, cooking them is fairly straightforward. You clean them, boil them in hot water with some salt, sugar, dill and a dash of beer. The dill is actually the king of the table. It’s not just used to flavour the broth but people even decorate the table with it for the crayfish dinner parties. And if you have a headache the next morning it’s always the dill’s fault, not the schnapps. The crayfish dinner parties usually start with a soup. In this case my wife’s creamy chanterelle soup with cold-smoked reindeer shavings, chives and black pepper on top. Simply delicious.

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Creamy chanterelle soup – Photo by Ilkka Sirén | All Rights Reserved

To pair with the soup we had Niepoort’s Dócil Riesling 2011. A Mosel-like white wine from the Douro. A fabulous pairing with the soup I must say. Although the wine has more flesh around the bones than its German cousins, the quality for a fresh riesling from Douro is still pretty damn fantastic. One reason for this is the high vineyards at 800+ meters above sea level. Making a wine this fresh with 8% alcohol in Douro is no walk in the park but Niepoort nailed it. A light wine with the starter soup was good way to kick things off.

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Niepoort Dócil Riesling 2011 – Photo by Ilkka Sirén | All Rights Reserved

Next up was: crayfish. A platter of these red devils is a feast for eyes. The prices of Finnish crayfish can get quite high so catching them yourself is not only fun but it can save your wallet from imploding. Eating them is a form of art. You have special crayfish knives but mostly you work them by hand. The claws contain some of that delcious broth as well as some meat. You can eat it as such or with some white bread and butter. Simple and tasty.

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Crayfish platter – Photo by Ilkka Sirén | All Rights Reserved

Then comes the schnapps. Oh boy! The traditional saying goes “one schnapps per claw”. Each crayfish has two claws and on average you usually have at least 10 crayfish in one sitting. So, that means you would have to down 20 shots of aquavit during the dinner. Luckily nowadays that’s just a saying. That being said people do drink quite a bit in a traditional crayfish dinner party. It also involves a lot of singing, Helan går! (“All at once”) being the most well-known song. Aquavit doesn’t have the best reputation in Finland but make no mistake, there is some really good aquavit out there.

Blend-All-About-Wine-Craving-for-cray-fish-Linie-Double-Cask -Aquavit crayfish Craving for Crayfish Blend All About Wine Craving for crayfish Linie Double Cask Aquavit

Linie Double Cask Aquavit – Photo by Ilkka Sirén | All Rights Reserved

One of my favorites is Linie Double Cask Aquavit. Like the Madeira wines back in the day this Norwegian aquavit matures at sea. It sails twice across the equator in sherry casks. This particular aquavit sailed on board the M/V “Tamerlane” from Oslo to Boston, then to Sydney, Singapore, Yokohama, Panama and back to Oslo. Quite an epic journey, eh? Then when it gets back to Norway it goes through an extra maturing in port wine casks. All together 22 months in cask. Definitely not the most cost-effective way of producing booze. Whatever the case it’s not only one of the best aquavits out there but it’s one of the best spirits, period.

Another great crayfish party. One thing I look forward all year and one thing I can’t wait to be over. That dill is lethal!