Sunday, 15 September 2013

Theme tuna to a workshop


The Casa Rosada cookery workshop continues and for the most recent workshop on Friday, in response to the candidates answers to my initial questions about skill levels and what direction they would prefer, I decided to follow a more specific theme.My chosen theme  was "A town and its tuna."Vila Real de Santo Antonio, our local town has a history related to tuna fishing.
In the second half of the 19th century Italian, Spanish and Greek immigrants opened canning factories in Vila Real.This golden age of commercial tuna fishing on the Algarve continued until the 1930’s.
At the beginning of the 1930’s the Parodi tuna processing plant in Vila Real Santo António employed modern technology to process up to 1000 tuna daily. Profits from tuna fishing were enormous even if catches were down on the previous century.
Just two factories for preseving tuna remain today, including the Conservas Damaso factory.Despite the fact that Tuna may have had its chips,a permanent exhibition pays homage to not only the people of Vila Real de Santo Antonio, but to *those who came from other places,bringing with them their technical skills,initiative and knowledge of business to further this great adventure of tuna fishing and the tuna preserving industry.I decided to incorporate a visit to this historical archive and also bring in the present day context of tuna with a visit to  Conservas Damaso warehouse, where we purchased Muxama (dry cured tuna)and saw the preservation process first hand.We prepared a carpaccio of Muxama with  a cucumber
salad and citrus balsamic reduction and from a section of the tuna loin purchased in the market we pepper seared it on a salt stone.We had more guests booked in for dinner the same night, so I decided to cook espetadas de atum for them and highlighted the marinade process as  part of the afternoon´s workshop.We returned from a tapas lunch across the river in Spain and schlepped down to the salt pans for a spotlight on the important industry of artesan salt production in Castro Marim. 
Tapas lunch in Spain
I showed them how this production still thrives on harvesting methods dating back to Roman times.We needed just one more tuna element to complete what would be our troika of tuna for our starter.Using canned tuna highlighted in our visit to the archive earlier in the morning we made a tuna pate.
Being careful not to OD on the tuna front, for our main course we prepared a pan of roasted Algarvian seafood-camarao (prawns) ameijoas( clams), burbigao ( a smaller cockle) and lulinho ( tender baby squid) roasted with potatoes and garlic, splashed with white wine and olive oil. We moorishly devoured our way through a large dish of this.



Finally I put them through their paces making a Bolo de Bolacha ( Portuguese layered biscuit cake), finished off with a mango and lime coulis and slices of fresh fig.
An enjoyable day was had by all and I look forward to creating a tailor made theme for the next workshop.


*Descendents of the foreign entrepreneurs, who established tuna fishing companies along the Algarve, can be found in the phone book, for instance under family names of Piteueu and Ramirez.



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