"Os Tavirenses comem dentro da gaveta" Tavirans eat from a drawer

Piri piri prawns flambéed with maciera and lemon,
 my interpretation ( top ) Restaurant version ( below )
There is a rare expression sometimes aired in the Algarve that "os tavirenses comem dentro da gaveta" ( Tavirians eat inside the drawer ).According to a one time Taviran town councillor the statement comes from the time when commerial businesses did not close at lunch time. The shopkeeper or trader would put his plate in the drawer of the counter and discreetly eat until a customer entered his establishment. When the occasion arose, he would close the drawer and attend to business, restarting his meal as soon as the customer  had left.Although this expression sounds a little derogatory, it should be noted that it has nothing to do with reality. In fact, Tavira, besides being a beautiful town, has a very hospitable population, quite the opposite of what the statement suggests.We had the good fortune the other night, of Eating in a drawer,so to speak.Opened on 21st March 2018 Come na Gaveta ( Eat in a drawer ) is in,for me, the most iconic municipality of  the Algarve, Tavira, a wonderful sleepy little historic town.On this occasion, eating at Come na Gaveta with friends, I would have been more than proud if it was myself cooking what they served us..We ordered this dish of flambéed garlic prawns with Maciera (Portuguese brandy)Well that clinched it for me.I would return home with the intention of emulating this dish.I turned to my well thumbed copy of Tessa Kiros book Piri piri Star Fish  and soon found a Taviran recipe for prawns with piri piri whisky and lemon.I thought by replacing the whisky with Maciera I would not be far off,but it was not to be.Memory of that night in Come na Gaveta had failed me,there was a distinct flavour missing.I had a second stab at it and this time put vanilla in the sauce.I was there,well not far off the same deliciousness.
Piri piri prawns flambéed with maciera and lemon
This makes the perfect tapas item or starter before a main course of grilled fish.Serve with some bread for the sauce and a lemon wedge
400 g (14 oz) x raw prawns (shrimp) 
1 x tablespoon olive oil 
50 g x (13⁄4 oz) butter 
2 x small bay leaves 
2 x garlic cloves, chopped 
1 x tablespoon chopped coriander leaves 
ground piri piri (or other chilli powder) 
1⁄2 teaspoon sweet paprika
a dash of 100% pure vanilla extract 

3–4 tablespoons Maciera 
juice of 1 small lemon extra lemons, to serve
Remove the heads from the prawns but leave the shells on the bodies. make a shallow cut down the back of each one so they take in the flavour of the sauce and devein them. Rinse and pat dry. 
Heat the oil and half the butter in a large non-stick saucepan until very hot and sizzling. 
Throw in the prawns and bay leaves gradually, trying not to lose the heat, so the prawns get crusty and golden. toss the pan and season with coarse salt and pepper. When the prawns are nicely golden on both sides, add the garlic, parsley, as much piri piri as you like, the paprika a dash of vanilla extract and the last of the butter. 
Toss until you can smell the garlic, then add the Maciera. When it’s been absorbed, add the lemon juice and toss it all together.Let it bubble up for a moment, check the seasoning, then use a slotted spoon to lift the prawns onto a plate. Add about 4 tablespoons of water to the pan and let it bubble up to thicken the sauce. Remove from the heat, return the prawns to the pan and toss through the sauce. serve with some bread for the sauce and a lemon wedge or two.

Well the experience did not end there.We ordered a wide enough variety of Tapas to satisfy all four of us:the best dishes being
"Pica pau do lombo" with great home made pickles not from a jar,"Tempura de Polvo" Chouriço polenta  and the best sweet potato chips ever ever.Well I have to say i just had to pinch this last one for my home table too......

             Chouriço polenta,my interpretation ( top ) Restaurant version ( below )

Chouriço polenta,my interpretation.... 
Chorizo and manchego croquetas
You can judge a good restaurant by the way it makes its croquetas – this recipe will make yours equally good. Make the base mix a day ahead, then you can just cook the croquetas to order. Serve with a glass of sherry or an ice-cold beer.
75 g butter
75 g plain flour
500 ml whole milk
75 g manchego, finely grated
150 g chorizo, chopped cut into small cubes
3 eggs, beaten
200 g fine polenta
2 litres sunflower oil, for deep-frying, plus extra for greasing
Melt the butter in a pan and stir in the flour to make a thick paste.
Gradually stir in the milk until you have a smooth sauce. Simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add the cheese and stir until melted, then stir in the chorizo and season really well. Scoop into a tray or dish, cool, then chill completely in the fridge. (This can take 2-3 hours, or you could do it the day before.)
Put the egg on one plate and breadcrumbs on another. Scoop out large teaspoonfuls of the mix and roll each into a ball about 3cm across. Roll the balls in the egg then the polenta. Repeat so you have a double layer of egg and breadcrumbs.
Fill a pan ⅓ full with oil and heat to 180C (or until a cube of bread browns in 30 seconds), then deep fry the balls in batches for 2-3 minutes until golden. Scoop out and drain on kitchen paper. 


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