Portugal Is On The Way To San Jose

California is a gastronomic Shangri-La. It has an enormous variety of tastes, aromas, shapes, traditions and great places to satisfy your cravings. This year one particularly special place will fill in the missing gap. A place, which has authenticity in culinary science DNA – a Portuguese restaurant “Adega”.

Anyhow, it is not the restaurant that matters the most, but who is going to create the dishes. And those people are the two chefs who belong to the Portuguese cuisine elite representatives; people whom the best professionals taught, and who know how to create every traditional dish from scratch – Jessica and David.

Jessica & David
David & Jessica

I am a bit jealous that Portugal will lose four capable swift hands and two insanely creative heads. I adore good food. If I love a dish, I am capable of travelling miles to savour it again. I could not care less for a variety of items on a menu, witty names, sophisticated ambiences. All I care for is an honest taste of what I consume. Those two were the first people to introduce Portuguese cuisine to me in its raw, pure and classic state.

I met David when he was part of the team of the Michelin star restaurant “Eleven” here in Lisbon. What he does with meat, fish and poultry is a Da Vinci level. I bit my cheek, trying to fill my mouth with what he put on my plate. I felt like a starving raccoon afraid to share its food with anybody. He is the muscle of any kitchen, no doubt.

Jessica was a surprising discovery for me. My husband used to work with her in the restaurant business. Once he told me that “Assinatura” – one of the traditional Portuguese signature houses – had finally found a talented pastry chef. After he showed me the pictures of her dishes – I cleared my Friday afternoon agenda to visit the place. I can’t describe myself as a sweet tooth, or, better to say, could not before. The final part of my lunch was the most delicious and creative. She managed to use some of the most elaborated techniques to bring the best in the traditional desserts. I asked my husband to talk to her after lunch to learn where she gained the artistry. Well, paradoxically, in the Le Cordon Bleu – the American famous culinary arts Alma Mater.

I love to follow my favourite chefs’ careers; to visit their new restaurants, to taste their new dishes. I feel like growing with them, and they educate me. Imagine my surprise when I realised that the two talents I admire had created a gastronomic duet. They decided to work together and open a restaurant in San Jose, CA. After that I felt frustrated, because I will have to pay 800 euros to repeat my experience with them. And I will.

Shrimps, oysters and chicken stomachs feast
Shrimps, oysters and chicken stomachs feast

The last time I saw them, they were getting ready to go to the North of Portugal to learn how to make the old-fashioned sausages in the remote villages of the country – to make sure they can call theirs truly original. Like archeologists or fairy tales collectors.

Good for you, San Jose! Soon you will be able to try some of the best chorizos, cod fish dishes and nana’s sweet rice.

I will be following their success story in the USA, as I have no doubts they will win over the San Josenians hearts, minds and stomachs.

Looking forward to your triumph this summer!

Restaurant Adega will be located at 1614 Alum Rock Ave. San José, CA 95116 (between 33rd and 34th Street). http://www.adegarest.com



Ocean Is Magical

Praia do Guincho

Ocean is magical. I am drawn to it. I recall the days when work and pressure used to suck me dry. Ocean would restore me better than a day spent in meditation, a Monty Python skits or a box of pills to increase serotonin.

When I look at it – it seems cosmic; I feel like hypnotised plankton. My problems shrink and appear irrelevant. Its powerful winds blow out all the negative residues. I feel so small. It performs its scary dance in front of me like a Chimbu Skeleton dancer.

I believe that four million years ago it was our natural habitat. We still carry a bit of ocean inside us: our blood, sweat, tears are salty; our mothers carry us in salty water; our taste buds need salt to recognize food flavour.

You need to see it once to miss it the whole life. Ocean is mystical.