It’s been a couple of months since we did a big, fancy restaurant trip, so to fill the gap here are a few quick food and drink snippets from recent weeks.
A couple of weeks ago we hosted a wine-tasting evening at our place with about a dozen friends. Blog-friend and professional sommelier Barbara Summa and family came down from Amsterdam for the weekend and brought with her a large selection of wines, mostly from small producers, as well as an array of Italian nibbles (she’d even made her own focaccia). She talked us through the basics of tasting before we got stuck in, and I have a video on my phone of everyone practising making Hannibal Lecter-style slurping noises, but I’m too polite to share that here.
There was a fascinating variety of wine and everyone found something they liked, with many people buying a few bottles to take home with them. There was also some fantastic flavoured olive oil (chilli, basil, garlic, orange) to dunk the focaccia in. I was too busy drinking (I mean, tasting) to take many photos, so you’ll have to settle for a before…
The following week we tried a night out at Brussels in Loft. It’s basically a pop-up restaurant which occupies someone’s loft space for a week, but this year (it started last year) the twist is that instead of local chefs they’ve invited over chefs from various European cities (with the support and sponsorship of cultural institutes). We chose Lisbon as the chef sounded interesting and we don’t have much experience of Portuguese cuisine. According to the site our chef ‘Paulo Reffoios is the owner of the Chaminés do Palácio restaurant, recognized by Time Out as one of the “Best Restaurants in Lisbon”.’
The spacious loft was filled with arty knick-knacks and vintage furniture, much of which was supplied especially for the event and was in fact for sale (there were price lists discretely posted on the walls).
Also posted on the wall was a menu:
The evening’s entertainment was provided by an Argentinian-American-Spanish string trio called Trash à Cordes, who provided some very interesting and unusual classical-jazz-tango fusion sounds.
The first dish was probably my favourite of the evening (and the worst photo, of course). Tuna tartare with onion, ginger, olive oil, soya and pistachio. Beautiful.
The main course was pork and pineapple. The meat was surprisingly cool, but it was soft and melting and tasty.
And for dessert we had an unusually crumbly almond cake, with moisture provided by the ‘sweet eggs’ (not entirely sure what they mean by that. Is it just egg with added sugar?)
The food and music were excellent, and we spent a while chatting to the event organiser Manuel about this project and his other one, Open Kitchen, which runs all year long and offers private diners in people’s houses. Along with bookalokal these kinds of bespoke dining/party experiences definitely seem to be the cool thing to do at the moment, and they attract a hip young crowd (I know, so what was I doing there, right?). I’ll be interested to see how long they manage to keep it going once the novelty value fades.
Finally, we could resist the good weather no longer and had our first barbecue of the year (a barbecue in March has to be some kind of record). Ramses and Ashley came along with salads and Ashley had made a pistachio brittle. I’d never had any kind of brittle, so this was a new experience for me and I can definitely see myself getting the brittle habit. Especially with that sprinkling of coarse salt across the top. Yum.