What inspired us to create these recipes?
1. We found that even the Portuguese do not actually ‘drink’ a lot of Port. They sometimes have it as an aperitif, but even that is rare.
2. Port is rich, both in alcohol and tannins, making it hard go through a full meal with only Port. That is why we decided to create ‘tapas’ spoons
3. A lot of traditional Portuguese cuisine does not marry well with port.
4. Our gracious host at Quinta Senhora Do Convento, Ruth Landanger, said she was looking to find more varied recipes to serve with Port. These are for her.
The challenge with creating dishes to go with Port is to keep balance and not to fall into dishes that are too rich or too sweet. We played with various spices and sought ingredients that are inherently sweet, like beetroot, cherries and strawberries.
With each dish we had the Senhora do Convento 2003 Vintage and the Taylors LBV 2001. The Senhora do Convento was more complex and gingery that went very well with the dishes, but it did have some deposit and was quite tannic. The Taylors was very smooth, but perhaps less complex and tended to be a little too sweet to be balanced with the dishes.
We surprised ourselves with how many things we came up with and how many of our ideas actually worked out.
We did not want not to have too many sweet/sour dishes and to use natural sugars in foods rather than adding sugar or honey. The key to using sweet fruits like cherries and strawberries, to tone down their inherent acidity so that they marry well with the wine was to lean on the spices. The spices bring bitterness to the sweetness of the fruit to create balance.
The other thing we realized was: don’t be shy on the pepper. Pepper is such an intrinsic taste element of port (both aroma and texture from the peppery tannins-from schist, or slate terroir) that any dish needs a lot of pepper to stand up to Port.