Sometimes you can’t get enough of a good thing. So, I followed up the great Touriga Nacional seminar at the Boston Wine Expo by taking my brother, Robert, to my favorite Portuguese restaurant in Fall River, MA. I make it a point to stop in whenever I am in the area and am overtaken by a craving for Carne de Porco à Alentejana. But since this is “Invitation-Only”, there’ll be no menu and no Alentejana tonight.
Luis happily greets us over the sounds of the Portuguese Futebol Liga match on television (For a moment, I thought it was summer again and I was back in the Algarve). I share the list of Touriga wines that I tasted during the seminar, when Luis pulls out his last bottle of CARM Reserva, 2001, which he says will go nicely with the dish he has planned. He brings over the wine with some olives and crusty Portuguese rolls with butter.
2001 CARM Reserva Touriga Nacional blend, vanilla, smoke, spice, ripe black fruit, medium body, mild tannins, balanced alcohol/acidity
We start with a Portuguese soup of cabbage, kale, chourico, beef, potatoes, carrots, elbow pasta, etc. I have eaten Portuguese soup all of my life and I’m not sure that I have ever had it the same way twice. The soup is a delicious meal served alone and perfect for a cold winter night (properly eaten of course by soaking torn pieces of Portuguese bread). The acidity of the CARM balanced well with the hardy soup.
Next, we are treated to a new item that was not on the menu. For several months, Luis has been experimenting with a dish that a friend has been making on the island of Terceira in the Azores called Telha, the Portuguese word for roof tile. Fitting name since it is served on one.
Our Telha is filled with generous portions of Swordfish, Tuna and Shrimp combined with sautéed onions and potatoes in a Mozambique-like sauce. The ends were capped with roasted mashed potato dams. My experience with Portuguese red wine and seafood in the Algarve proved not to be an anomaly as the CARM was a worthy accompaniment. What looked like an insurmountable quantity of food, disappeared amongst a duo of Mmmmm’s. But did we save room for dessert?
Ruby Port Black/Stewed fruits, light body, short finish, thin compared to syrupy/high alcohol rubys
The dense lemon cake and silky flan was a surprisingly refreshing finish to an otherwise heavy winter meal. My brother and I agreed that we would put our culinary well-being in Luis’ hands anytime.
Even so, I think I hear Carne de Porco à Alentejana calling my name for my next visit.