Porto à Mesa – Vinum

Another year, another edition of Porto Wine Fest, the only event in town uniquely dedicated to Port Wine and to gastronomy. The location was the same as the previous editions, with Douro and the river banks as background.

This year, we were invited by Vinum restaurant (elected by the voters of the Flavors & Senses – The Best for 2014 as the Revelation Restaurant) to participate at Porto à Mesa, the signature restaurant of Porto Wine Fest, where each one of the restaurants present in the event creates a tasting menu to be harmonized only with port wine. For that purpose they brought Manuel Jiménez to Porto, the executive chef of the Sagardi Group (the Spanish group that explores Vinum in partnership with the Symignton family).

We started with a visit to Vinum’s stand, where they sold little pintxos that usually are served at Vinum’s Wine Bar, since the Iberian prosciutto, the boquerones or the croquette, to an excellent skewered tuna slightly grilled in a Konro (Japanese grill). An appealing stand to the eyes and to the stomach.

Now to dinner itself, and despite the cold weather (Saint Peter did not bless us with nice weather), the space was very pleasant, with a view that serves as seasoning to any dish. With the diners reunited we were introduced to the menu, in which 5 dishes easily captivated the interest, either to themselves or to their harmonization.

Before moving on to the dishes I have to highlight the quality of the bread, prepared by Vinum using old techniques and traditional flour, very good.

 Sardine’s Coca, Quince
Coca is the closest thing the Spanish have to a pizza (nothing to do with illicit substances), a thin bread, in this case layered with a quince jam and a slightly confit sardine marinade. Excellent flavor and presentation, the sardines with flawless texture and a great flavor fusion. Great start.

Harmonizing, a Graham’s Extra Dry White that worked nicely with the dish, much because of the sweetness of the quince that served as link between the elements.

Smoked Foie Gras, figs
I know that the animal advocates don’t see it as funny, but few things taste as good as a nice foie. And this one was great, an excellent piece, smoked in the right amount and with an almost mi-cuit texture. Well balanced with the jam and the fig, another great dish by Chef Manuel Jiménez. The bread also helped to raise the dish.

To accompany, a 20 years Graham’s, that managed to accompany the dish with some interesting notes.

Cod confit, traditional sauté and cuttlefish
Semi-cured Cod, right amount of salt and enviable texture, keeping the gelatin that the Portuguese insist on destroying. Sautéed vegetables, clear and intense, working well with the cod. The cuttlefish only added texture, once its light flavor easily lost itself among the other elements.

The harmonization with the same 20 years Graham’s didn’t work, as it was expected, Cod and Port wine don’t make a good marriage.

Pork cheek, “ratafía” sauce
Ratafía is a traditional liquor famous in Catalonia, made with grapes, herbs and spices, here complemented with a sweet touch of anise, a very well prepared pork cheek, tasty, moist and breaking down in mouth. The weak point was the side, the potatoes still stiff and slightly raw.

The harmonization with Graham’s Six Grapes wasn’t easy, the sweetness and the fruit of the Port asked more for chocolate than for pork, but the Ratafía sauce managed to make the junction till a certain point.

Drunk “Rabanada” (similar to French Toast)
A version by the hands of Chef Jiménez, uniting the bread, slightly fried, with the traditional drunk pear, and some sour cream that went well with the sweetness of the dish. A simple ending to the meal, beautiful and well accomplished, yet very different from our traditional toast as it would be expected.

To finish, a 2001 Graham’s Quinta dos Malvedos Vintage in good shape that went very well with the dessert.

The harmonization of a complete menu with Port Wines, although fun, is not simple at all or doable in general, but of course this exercise it is understandable, taking in account the event it is inserted in, but given the quality of the cuisine we were present with in this pop-up restaurant we ended up wishing other wines, in this case another wines of the Symington family.

From the kitchen came excellent dishes where Manuel Jiménez was able to combine some of the Portuguese ingredients with the Basque and Catalan soul. To repeat in 2015!

Vinum Restaurant 
Rua do Agro nº 141 (Grahams Port Lodge), Gaia
+351 220 930 417

The described meal was held at the invitation of Vinum, being the expressed opinion and text of the exclusive responsibility of the author.


No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.