bacalhau com broa e castanhas (breaded codfish with chestnuts)
E.N. 13 – Vila Meã, 4920-140 Vila Nova de Cerveira
Tel: 251 700 240
If there is something I’m learning faster in Portugal than Portuguese, it’s the Portuguese language of food. I can’t think of anything more strongly linked to Portuguese culture than the gastronomy, because it ties the people to the land in such a personal way. In Portugal there are food legends, regional styles of cooking, secret ingredients, entire festivals celebrating a specific food, and specialties all around the country. The Portuguese have such a strong emotional attachment to their cuisine that when they ask me “What is Canadian food?” and I cannot give a clearcut answer, I can feel the pity… It’s not to say Canadians don’t like food, but we just don’t have much to call our own — we’ve co-opted everyone else’s instead, including Portuguese.
Where Portuguese food really shines is in the locally-sourced dishes, and you’ve got to travel for those. When I was invited by Hotel Minho to visit the Alto Minho region north of Porto, the invitation included reservations at their adjoining restaurant Braseirão do Minho for Saturday and Sunday. It’s conveniently located directly beside the hotel, giving us the opportunity to enjoy the hotel’s amenities and have dinner within just a few minutes.
At Braseirão do Minho we started off with moelas (gizzards) and ordered some vinho verde. Suddenly, two more dishes appeared from the kitchen for us, compliments of the chef, José Vinagre. (There’s a short interview with him here, if you speak Portuguese.) It was my first time to try arroz de pato (duck rice) and we polished off the dish of entrecosto (ribs) in no time. We were well into the moelas and had to forego the bread to leave room for our mains, already feeling a bit full. But it was all just too good to leave anything behind. As you can see, it’s castanhas season and those featured prominently on our plates.
In the meantime, the restaurant was already full of Galicians who crossed a bridge (and a time zone) to dine at Braseirão do Minho, and it was their sheer exuberance on the dance floor that set the tone for the evening. Between the live music and the dancing, we were happily content to sit back, digest our food, people-watch and take photos of the food while we marvelled at how obviously popular the restaurant must be for the whole area.
Lighting was a challenge on Saturday, but I managed to photograph nearly all of our dishes except for dessert, which we had no room for (surprise surprise). This is Part 1 of our dining experience at Braseirão do Minho:
arroz de pato (duck rice)
(we forgot the name of this dish!)
port rounded out our meal (like we needed more rounding! ha!)
November 8, 2014
Album: Alto Minho Press Trip 2014