Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Lunch At bico do sapato

In my last post about this place I, gasp, inadvertently capitalized the name of the restaurant.  I should know by now that capitals aren't hip anymore.  Lowercase all the way.  What was I thinking.

Okay, this post will be primarily for foodies because it will be devoted to describing the quite delicious lunch we shared at bico do sapato one lovely afternoon.

First things first though.  It was a hot day and, well, what difference does it make.  The first thing I wanted when I got here was a beer.

First Things First

They didn't have a really extensive menu here, but it was unusual and sufficiently varied that we had no problem finding things we were eager to try.

I already mentioned the Stewed Black Pork Cheek with minced white carrots, sauteed asparagas and secrets.

Black Pork Cheek

Very tasty with a nice chew to it.  Had a bit of a pungent flavor, probably bacause of the secrets.  It could easily serve as a main course, especially for lunch.  But, when you eat at a place like this a bit of gluttony is acceptable.

The Mysterious Chinese Woman went for one of the specials of the day, Fried Eels stewed in red wine served with beans and pennyroyal.

It Looks Eelie Good

Now I will be the first to admit that I had never heard of pennyroyal before.  It is a plant in the mint family and was used in cooking by both the Greeks and the Romans.  It is also used in traditional medicines to both reduce menstrual flow and to induce abortions.  The essential oil is highly toxic, and even in small quantities can lead to death.  Makes you just want to run out and get some to start using in your cooking.

Everyone agreed the dish was very good, though.  Sometimes ignorance is bliss.

The Mysterious Sister had Braised Scallops with fleur de sel, common cockle and blooms rice.

Braised Scallops And Mysterious Ingredients

Not every day that you get so many mysterious ingredients before you are even through your appetizers.  Well, fleur de sel is a sea salt, but not just any sea salt.  It is the salt that is harvested by hand from only the newest crystals that form at the top of salt ponds.  Aren't we fancy.  Common cockles are edible shellfish somewhat similar to small clams.  And blooms rice, well, I just don't know.  I do know that the mussels were delicious.

Moving on to the main course I ordered Roasted Azores red gurnard with oysters fricassee, sauteed noodles with sea cabbage and seaweed.

My Roasted Azores (No Limericks, Please)

Red gurnard, also known, for some mysterious reason, as jock stewart, is either a rockfish or a perch or both.  The waitress said it would be similar to a red snapper, but it really wasn't.  The fillets were thicker and firmer and a bit sweet.  Very good, though.

The red gurnard is kind of a goofy looking fish.  The picture looks almost like some Japanese metal toy that you might see.

Just Wind Me Up

They do get quite large though, a couple of feet or more.

The Mysterious Chinese woman opted for the Duck Leg Confit with juniper cress tort, giblets, beans and rice.

Proud Of Her Pick

Now I have made duck leg confit, but only once.  I really should make it again because I have a lot of lard in my refrigerator.  Because it is a bit of a pain to make, slow cooking in lard, but because I like it so much I often order it when I see it on the menu.  It can be hit or miss, sometimes over-cooked, but this was done to perfection.  It was a pick to be proud of.

The Mysterious Sister opted for the Roasted Lamb Shoulder in the oven, turnip leaves cream, gratinated with traditional Beira cheese. 

Shouldering The Burden

Now maybe it is a coincidence, but there is a Beira cheese factory in Azores.  Maybe they ship the cheese over with the fish.  But whatever they do, this was really delicious.  Done to perfection, juicy and flavorful.

And, of course, we had an excellent bottle of wine with our meal.  The waitress helped me pick it out, but  I forgot what kind it was.  Very refreshing.

Ah, The Good Life

And now for the desserts.  Nothing fancy for me, just some Sour Cherry Sorbet in a nice crispy crepe.  Very light and a perfect little ending to a perfect meal.

Only The Sorbet Was Sour

I am not sure what the Mysterious Chinese Woman and her Mysterious Sister got.  I think the Mysterious Chinese Woman got vanilla ice cream, or something along those lines.

Another Mystery

The Mysterious Sister, who really likes chocolate, ordered a dish that had a combination of three different ice creams, two of which were chocolate.

Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad

The round thing in the middle was some kind of a cookie.

And that concluded our lunch at bico do sapato.  It was truly excellent, from start to finish.  The service was great and our waitress was very friendly and helpful in explaining some of the more mysterious ingredients.  If I ever get back to Lisbon I would definitely make a point of eating here again.

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