Vinum “II Jornadas do Boi de Trás-os-Montes”

vinum1214-1Once a year, Vinum, the restaurant of Graham’s Port Lodgeoperated by the Basque group Sagardi, brings to its clients the “Jornadas do Boi de Trás-os Montes” (Festival of Trás-os-Montes Ox) that consists on presenting the meat of two old oxen (13 years old, in this case) carefully chosen by Imanol Jaca, a renowned meat supplier that travels through the Iberian Peninsula in search of the best animals to offer his clients. Imanol defends the opposite of the actual chains of long and intense maturation, on his turn he transmits that most important than the breed, is the feeding of the animal throughout his life and that the long maturation will alter completely the flavor of the meat, losing the herbaceous and dairy flavors to the putrefaction, in which case often the rancidness is one of the dominant flavors.
With the proximity between the Sagardi group and Imanol, Vinum (Revelation Restaurant – Flavors & Senses, The Best for 2014) became the perfect place to the treatment given to these meats, due to its care with the grill mastery. Its curious tough that it is in a restaurant with Spanish management that we find an event where the quality of a Portuguese animal is elevated and dignified!
vinum1214-5Although not being able to be present at the press presentation of the event, for professional reasons, Symington and Vinum had the care of laying aside one of the amazing chops, so I could testify their quality. The festival was created to last 2 or 3 weeks, but in reality it lasts while there are chops (usually much less time), so those already drooling while reading this article may already think of making a reservation for next year, because for now it’s over.
So we started our tasting with a toast of Altano Branco 2013, which tropical and citric aromas and freshness in the mouth made of it an excellent starter. Accompanying was the excellent olive oil from Quinta do Ataíde and the homemade bread from Vinum, well this bread… made with flour from traditional milling was worth an article just by itself  given my actual baker’s apprentice vein; it was so good, a long time since I ate one as good as this in Portugal.

vinum1214-11Rolled bacon and cheese
A small starter that worked very well opening my appetite, with the greasiness from the cheese and the fat of the bacon involving the entire mouth, like it was a good wine. Good frying mastery, with the breaded on spot, without excess oil.

vinum1214-10Casserole of Iberian pork with white beans
When we’re talking of a superior quality bean, without great jugglery, but cooked to perfection, the result is impressive and the supposed side was king. An amazing dish to the cold weather of that day, where the only thing to be improved would be the flavor of the stew, wherein I understand it was just a starter and not the main course.

vinum1214-8Large chop of Trás-os-Montes oxen, roasted piquillo peppers
And here comes the king of the party, the chop that made us reunite for lunch. After slaughtering the animals, the chops rest, in a process of cold maturation (dry age) during around 20 days before being eaten. Stupidly good meat, which secret is just the simplicity it is treated with, grilled on spot, for around 5 minutes each side and seasoned with salt just on one of the sides. Delicate flavor and fatness (yes, mister nutritionists, dietitians, vegans, and so on) of eating and crying for more.  With great “difficulty and obligation” I had to finish the meat and hold on to the bone (because we’ll have to wait another year for a piece like this). To go with, and to tease a bit the Portuguese there was no rice, not even potatoes, but instead some fresh roasted piquillo peppers, which sweetness balanced perfectly the meat and which also were worth to be King in other Festival.

To harmonize I couldn’t be luckier, a Quinta do Vesúvio 2011, a newcomer to the market that marks a new level for this Symington wine, and it is for sure the best they made. With unanimous opinion on the table, if Chryseia 2011 brought a 3rd place this year, Vesúvio might as well do the same in the future. Great wine!

vinum1214-4Selection of artisan cheeses
Sheep cheeses from Serra da Estrela, since the traditional buttery to the most cured and spicy, very well accompanied by walnuts and jam, besides a great vintage Dow’s 2001, still full of power and color. A great ending that we topped with good chocolate truffles, while the bottle of Port was ending and the view over the Douro margins was leaving us more poetic (or maybe it was just the wine).

This Festival menu, costing 60€ for person, was worth every cent, so it’s not surprising the speed at which it sold out.

Overlooking the usual menu of Vinum is curious to see like it seeks to bring the best Portuguese products and traditions allied to the technical mastery of the Basque grills, where the respect for the grill and the cooking times are the most important.

vinum1214-9             vinum1214-8             vinum1214-7

Final Remarks

Judging by what I saw from this menu, I have no doubt that our award of Revelation Restaurant (adding to other awards) was well handed, to a beautiful restaurant and very well integrated in the cellars, with huge respect for the ingredients and that also promotes our products. I’ll certainly come back to know the menu and its wonderful wine cellar. As to the oxen from “Trás-os-Montes” of Imanol Jaca, we can only hope next year he’ll find animals with the features he so much enjoys and the “III Jornadas do Boi de Trás-os Montes” will be realized.

Restaurante Vinum
Rua do Agro nº 141 (Graham’s Port Lodge), Gaia
+351 220 930 417

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


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