Tuesday, 9 April 2013

"Big fat portuguese wedding soup"

A traditional start to a Portuguese wedding- "Green soup" served on old  family china
I was recently grabbed by this blog post title and it inspired me to develop it further.Having last year watched the  TV series "Big Fat Gypsy Weddings" I guess I already had an inkling of what I was expecting to read. I was not far wrong. Inspired by the movie "My Big Fat Greek Wedding", the Portuguese author was relating her experiences both as guest and staff at Portuguese weddings and the many quirky customs attached to them.It has inspired me to write about how we plan and cater weddings for international clients here at Casa Rosada .
We have not as yet catered a wedding for Portuguese clents,but we are now in discussion with a couple of wedding planners here.What we have done in the past is cater "Portuguese themed" weddings for couples who are  looking for a slightly different, less conventional and more informal wedding than they might perhaps be able to attain in other parts of Europe, and more importantly for the client, on a more affordable budget.
Portuguese wedding receptions traditionally took place in a private home but more commonly these days at a restaurant, or even worse in the sterile atmosphere of a hotel. Recently, however, there seems to have been somewhat of a revival of ancient wedding customs.
More and more couples are now opting for the romanticism and tradition of the more traditional wedding customs handed down from generation to generation.So while it is possible for a young couple to enjoy a modern wedding in Portugal, it is also becoming more and more common for weddings to incorporate some of this old-fashioned fun and values of more ancient traditions.This is what we have researched and tried to integrate into the "Casa Rosada style" wedding.Either way, there are few places in the world more steeped in tradition or more romantic in which to get married than here in Portugal.Foreign nationals can not by law get married here in Portugal unless one partner has been resident in the country for at least six months.We have found the perfect solution to this. What we suggest for non -residents is to have a registry office wedding in their own country, just for the close family, and then come to the Algarve for the wedding party with all their friends and family.Once in Portugal there needs to be a focus to the day and we suggest and organize a blessing in front of all their guests,which brings the whole celebration together.
 We have abandoned the more common "package" concept in favour of a more flexible approach to the planning, where each wedding is considered unique and tailored to the particular ideas requirements of the wedding couple.This is very Portuguese.Weddings used to be small and restricted to direct family, while others would be larger affairs where friends and relatives would all lend a hand in planning and organizing all the details of the wedding festivities.This is also something we respect and encourage in our clients.From enquiry to wedding breakfast the clients are involved with all decisions that are made.What the hosts can afford is what their guests will be served.
In a Portugal past it was the custom among many families to chose and to prepare their own food, trusting that all dishes they prepared themselves would always be the very best. Farmers and people from small villages would traditionally serve their own chickens and pigs, as well as fresh-grown tomatoes and potatoes.We always try and respect these traditions when it comes to the food we source for wedding menus.Locally sourced fish and meat and other fresh seasonal produce go to  make up a traditional Algarvian wedding menu.

Wedding receptions typically do not have a firm schedule: parties can last long into the night, and it is not unusual for the menu structure to allow for free time between courses, giving wedding guests the chance to indulge in frequent toasts to the happy couple, a chance for speeches, music, perhaps dancing and most important the chance to build up an appetite! Portuguese weddings are about the food! Portuguese wedding parties are traditionally slightly different to typical receptions.
 

The pre-dinner drinks hour can go on for upwards of 2 hours.Champagne is available upon arrival and a collection of tapas is served. A large volume of food is prepared, plated, and served including Milho Frito, Almondegas,Moroccan pastillas,Picadinhos de porco with Port and pimentao,Rissois de Camarao (shrimp turnovers)and of course no Portuguese wedding is complete without Pasteis de bacalhau (codfish cakes). I’m getting hungry just thinking about it. And all this food is JUST cocktail hour. I cannot tell you how many times I have needed to tell people who had never been to a Portuguese wedding reception before that this was in fact NOT a buffet dinner.The main event was yet to be served when they were seated.An abundance of food is very important for any Portuguese wedding.A selection of entradas including octopus salad,fresh goats cheese,cured Iberian meats,home made pate,tapenade and perhaps if in season panados  de sardinhas (breaded sardines).This is followed by the Casa Rosada style four course surf and turf  barbecue, including  Camarão ao Alho piri piri (garlic and chilli prawns) Frango no Churrasco piri piri( barbecued chicken with a home-made piri piri rub)Espetadas de atum (Tuna steak kebabs) and Entremeada de porco em molho picante( belly pork in a honey and tomato glaze)These platters are brought to the table, and guests can serve themselves from a healthy colourful salad bar of fresh carbs and leaves.

Later in the evening a buffet can be served with many of these same items along with some other traditional classics cheeses and fruit to see you through the night.


A big fat Portuguese wedding is not complete without a cake.We work closely with "THE" Algarvian cake designer Sara Lopes of Cake Chic Portugal who can design a bespoke cake or something more modern like cup cakes or brightly coloured macaroons.
Beyond the food, lets face the music and dance.
Portugal is renowned for its wine and the Romans used to associate the country with Bacchus, God of wine and feasts. Casa Rosada has tried and tested Portuguese wines for the last six years and whether its a Vinho Verde, an Alvarinho,a fine Douro or an Algarvian Rosé, we can find the right wines at the right price to suit the occasion and budget.

Music is an all important part of the event and throughout the afternoon and evening we can provide a live musician to greet the arrival of guests,provide suitable traditional Portuguese wedding music for the blessing and if required background music to dinner.For partying into the night a disco can be provided to suit every age and taste in music.
There are wedding venues the length and thin breadth of the Algarve,so sand and sea are never far away,but further east, almost on the Spanish border is the sleepy village town of Castro Marim.In the run up to a wedding when you need a bit of rest and relaxation you can let Casa Rosada get on with the preparations for the big day while you can  surround yourself with peace and quiet as you lay on the nearly empty sand beaches and play in the warm coastal waters.Just a short drive and you will find yourself face to beak with hundreds of bright pink Flamingos,casually eating a meal in the shallow waters of the Ria Formosa nature reserve. The hills surrounding you are almost alive with millions upon millions of bright wild flowers surrounding picture postcard farms and orchards.
So whether you are looking for the total pampering that you’ll find in a touristic beach resort, prefer the peace and serenity of Castro Marim – or a happy medium of a bit of both, then head south to the surprising and romantic East Algarve Region of Portugal.We always look forward to being set a challenge.As I said each wedding is treated as its own entity and does not follow formula.I only wish it was me that was getting married and catering my own home made wedding.

Portuguese Wedding Soup
(Caldo Verde)
(There are many regional and family variations)

3 lb fresh Chicken (whole or cut into pieces)
12 cups water
1 large chopped onion
2 large celery stalks
2 large carrots
2 cloves garlic (peeled)
3 sprigs parsley
1 tbsp salt
1 /2 tsp freshly cracked pepper
1  – 1/2 cups orzo pasta (or white rice)
(1/2 tsp crushed piri piri pepper flakes optional) 

In a large stock pot, place the water, onion, 1 stalk of celery, 1 carrot, salt, 2 sprigs parsley and garlic and bring to a boil. Add the chicken and let it cook on medium for 2 hours. (If desired: remove one chicken breast after 1/2 hour of cooking time, remove bones, dice the meat and reserve for later).
After 2 hours remove the chicken and vegetables. Strain the soup through a strainer to remove any scum or fats. 
Note: (Discard the chicken and vegetables since they have lost their nutrients and con not be re-used). Place the pan with the broth back on the stove and bring to a low boil. Slice remaining carrot and celery into desired small slices.Garnish with mint leaves.

4 comments:

  1. Your blog is a joy to read! Many thanks, dear cook.

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind words.I am so glad you enjoy it.

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  2. This sounds so much more fun than a traditional stuffy British wedding. The food sounds divine. It almost makes me tempted but ... well . . . do you provide a matchmaking service too? :)

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    1. Sadly not - we might need to get round certain laws to do that.But who knows food and dating there´s a novel idea for a blog "matchmakers and after eight.com"

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