Wednesday, 11 September 2013

A Portuguese Conspiracy, a traveller a love affair a green sardine and pasteis de nata

It all sounds very Peter Greenaway "The Cook, the Thief, his Wife and her Lover", and all that. Sometimes a great decision can backfire. One of  the reasons I left England for a new life in the Algarve was to  discover all things Portuguese.When I lived in London, every year I had to fork out an air fare for my pilgrimage to Portugal. I needed to experience what this wonderful country offers in respect of food and products.All that was available back home in London  then, was, and this was if I was lucky enough to be in South Lambeth Road("Little Portugal" ), a Portuguese family restaurant and a smattering of mercearias ( grocery stores).In West London in the Portobello area there was the Portuguese bakery and a cafe where one could get a pastel de nata and a coffee, and sometimes if one was lucky a bit of tarte de almêndoas (almond tart).Suddenly times have changed and some of the best of Portugal has come to London. Even the stay at home birds can shop online from the comfort of their ergonomically designed home office chairs. They can browse the best of Portuguese products from a carefully chosen selection at The Green Sardine.
Now you no longer have to do the Lambeth Walk, you can jump on a bus or a tube to Camden Town or  hip hop down to Dalston on the off chance of the Portuguese Conspiracy popping up somewhere.

Maybe at L´atelier,where they launched back in February or perhaps where they popped up one September Sunday at The Duke of Wellington.Check their website and blog for food and where they are popping up next.
You can have a Portuguese Love affair in Columbia Road and consummate it all with an overnight stay at a smart Portuguese Boutique hotel in Bethnal Green of all places.Chef Nuno Mendes can even cook up some modern Portuguese twists for you.Weekends in London are now  pop-up a go go.
Start the day with a visit to Nata 28 at Camden Lock.Pasteis de nata are now being sold  off a Lisbon tram in Camden Lock.
A replica of Lisbon’s number 28 tram is becoming a main talking point in the UK after two budding Portuguese entrepreneurs came up with the idea to create the replica and serve traditional Portuguese coffee and Pasteis de Nata tarts from it.The ‘nata28’ mini-tram is the brainwave of Portuguese nationals Jaime Silva and Nuno Patrício, who took an Italian motorised tricycle to Leeds (UK) to have it transformed into something resembling a quaint Lisbon tram.
 A coffee machine, a glass box in which the custard Pasteis are kept warm and a till were installed in the back of the tricycle and for the past few months ‘nata28’ has been selling close to 600 of the typical Portuguese pastries every weekend.-Muito Bom!!!!!

Cut your way across London to the fringes of Shoreditch and find yet more clippings of Portugal,down the Columbia Road.The street is narrow and cobbled like the Bairro Alto but the only difference being it comes alive by day not night.The daytime atmosphere is not far removed from the night time in Bairro Alto.People sitting on the calçadas, plastic beaker in hand.
It could almost be Bairro Alto if it was night time
Portuguese traditions ,experiences and memories are all for sale. Portugal is romanticized at "A Portuguese love affair," number 142 Columbia Road in East London. Ones eyes move across the shelves and suddenly you are no longer in London,you are in Portugal.The project is the brain wave of Dina Martins and Olga Cruchinho who emigrated to London but did not want to leave their memories behind. Instead they found a great opportunity to promote what is the best of their national heritage.You are so transported to Portugal you can almost hear Fado being sung.

Portuguese Conspiracy, um «supper club» à portuguesa em Londres
A Portuguese couple, encouraged by the praise of English friends for their bacalhau com nata (cod with cream), decided to launch a gourmet supper club in London to promote Portuguese food and wines.The project launched at L´atelier Dalston on 28 February. Dubbed "The Portuguese Conspiracy" , it was created in the spirit of "supper clubs." Londoners started the trend of hosting dinners in unexpected places, with set menus, where participants end up experiencing something completely new.A maximum of 30 people,sit down to a meal consisting of a starter, two main courses and two desserts, accompanied by wines chosen especially for the occasion and with music, also on a Portuguese theme.
The hub of The new "Portugal in London" is destination east end, so why not check in for a weekend treat and base yourself at yet another venue with Portuguese connections,the Town Hall Hotel  in Bethnal Green. Thank goodness some far sighted hotelier decided to convert the disused Bethnal Green Town Hall into a hotel ,and a good one at that. The location might not strike everyone as ideal but there is no no difficulty in getting around.Viajante is the restaurant and  if you DON’T like minimalist décor, a series of small dishes, extreme reductions, partially-cooked food, odd flavours and eccentric service - you will not enjoy it here and you’ll be writing negative and confused reviews on tripadvisor but the general consensus is that Portuguese chef Nuno Mendes has brought something very special to London that should at least be sampled.

Viajante is a Michelin starred restaurant set in the urban landscape of East London.
Viajante means ‘traveller’ in Portuguese and this is reflected in its cuisine. The team have travelled the globe to bring their experiences to the table and tell stories through food. They serve an ever-changing tasting menu taking guests on a unique culinary journey.
Being Portuguese their inspiration is the sea and this has a strong influence on the food served. Viajante is one of the 2013 San Pellegrino’s World’s Best Restaurants.

Convinced of the worth of Portuguese products these pioneers hope the experience they offer will inspire their compatriots to develop ideas and invest in “a good image, good quality and good service”, “People are hungry for new experiences and that is what we wanted to bring – more than the product itself, a different experience.”

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