The Best of 2009 Blog Challenge
December 2 Restaurant moment. Share the best restaurant experience you had this year. Who was there? What made it amazing? What taste stands out in your mind?
It was a brisk evening when our wonderful Philips host, Shannon, rounded up Nicholas Deleon from CrunchGear, Ami Kealoha from Cool Hunting, Heather Dale from GeekSugar and yours truly for an evening out away from the opulent confines of Penha Longa to the postcard scenic Portuguese fishing harbour of Cascais to dine at O Pescador. Renowned for their fresh-from-the-traps/hook-onto-your-plate seafood, local wines and cured meats, we found ourselves dining at an hour that clearly designated us in tourist class, with only a few locals dining upon a saline breathed fish stew and handfuls of bread. Since our hotel called in advance, appetizers were already awaiting as we walked in, greeted with a pink spiral of sweet shrimp, fruity olives sprinkled with lemon zest at glistening with olive oil, a delicious crab pate, slices of bread and presunto, a dry-cured ham similar to prosciutto. It all disappeared quite quickly before we even ordered our main course of seafood, as we had all eaten lightly that afternoon in anticipation for this particular meal.
A moment after our appetizers were cleared, our waiter returned proudly with a large platter of silvery flashes of the day’s haul (the fishermans’ bunk house was just a few buildings down); I honestly cannot recollect what was what, as I was a bit dizzied by the excitement of trying a whole new cuisines in a faraway city and forgot to take notes, but freshness was verified with an inspection of the clear-as-glass eyes and the clean ocean fragrance from the fish. About 15-20 minutes later, two long metal platters came spilling over with succulent king prawns, plump phallic baby squid, tangerine hued mussels, mild flavoured clams and several large chunks of the various fish we approved earlier, all partnered with large pieces of roasted potatoes. The seafood seemed to be simply grilled and lightly seasoned with pepper salt and perhaps olive oil, a basic preparation highlighted by the slightly charred edges which gave way to the moist flavors of each of the creatures from the sea. When seafood is this fresh, what else do you really need…a meal memorable in its assured simplicity and the novelty of sharing it with once perfect strangers. Such is the joy of traveling.