We recently participated in a Portuguese Food Tour of Hartford hosted by the fabulous Prudence Sloane. The tour focused on a few blocks of Park Street in Hartford, where a variety of ethnic cuisines can be found within a few blocks of each other - not only Portuguese, but also Brazilian, Thai, Vietnamese and more.
After enjoying a few tasty tidbits and coffee at O'Porto restaurant (our homebase), we walked to La Estrella bakery to try some traditional Portuguese bread and pastries. Their rolls were light, airy and crusty while their Portuguese custard tarts had a great balance of texture and flavor. Our next stop was Solimar Market. There, we tasted linguica and cheese, and got an educational tour of the different ingredients and products that are used in real Portuguese cuisine. They have a great variety of fish, including salted codfish, at great prices. Our final stop before lunch was at King's Wine Shop, where we tasted a few Portuguese wines, including a ruby/tawny blend of Port, and green wine, a table wine that is meant to be enjoyed while it is very young.
We returned to O'Porto around noon, laden with our many purchases. Once here, we were treated to a cooking demonstration by our charming hosts, Sergio DeSousa and his father, Chef DeSousa. Chef is a spunky seventy-something-year-old gentleman with a gleam in his eye and an obvious passion for cooking. With copies of his own recipes in our hands, we watched intently as he demonstrated how to make four different Portuguese dishes. Then we sat back and waited while Chef returned to the kitchen and made the same dishes in full size for each of us to enjoy (see below). It was a delightful experience that offered a lot of insight into Portuguese food. We will certainly return to the neighborhood next time we're in the mood for this flavorful Mediterranean-style cuisine, and highly recommend O'Porto for a delicious meal.
Course One -
Scallop with a Shrimp and Crab Stuffing
A perfectly seared scallop is flambed with brandy and vermouth and topped with a seafood mixture for an elegant starter.
Course Two -
Rice Stew with Monkfish, Shrimp and Clams
Chef's version of a common Portuguese dish, this stew of seafood, onion, garlic and tomato is cooked with the perfect blend of seasonings and served over spiced rice.
Course Three -
Rack of Lamb
The distinct flavor of port wine gives New Zealand lamb and Portuguese twist - fork-tender and oh, so flavorful!
A perfect ending to summer meal, this "pudding" made of egg whites and sugar was like eating sweet spoonfuls of air.