Creative cuisine #Coya #cookbook

Celebrated the launch of Ashraf Saleh’s new cookbook this evening.

The book is a lovely reflection of the creative plating and innovative flavours inspired by French and Middle Eastern cuisine that Chef Saleh whips up at his restaurant Coya in Cromer, north of Sydney.

Good recipes to try at home as well. Ashraf also offers cooking classes at the restaurant. Checkout their website for specially themed nights and classes https://www.coyacromer.com.au

Here’s a link to my review of Coya last year. Some of the dishes we tried then are featured in the new cookbook.

https://freespiritfood.net/2019/03/02/ashraf-cooks-up-a-storm-at-coya-restaurant-cromer-sydney/

Sublime seaside style #hotelalbatroz #cascais #portugal

Still dreaming about sunny days and relaxing by the pool at the beautifully restored and decorated Hotel Albatroz in Cascais.

We spent 4 days in this lovely seaside town on the Atlantic Coast enjoying fresh seafood, the quaint shops and even a pop concert by the beach.

The Hotel Albaztroz is right on the Atlantic Ocean, so the views are stunning. Being on a point, it is away from the main hustle and bustle of this popular coastal town, but the sounds of laughter and people enjoying the beach drifts up through the windows creating a happy and idyllic air to the place.

According to their website: The Albatroz Hotel started in the ’60s when it opened for the first time with the name ‘Estalagem Albatroz’ in 1963. Revamped and enlarged during 18 months in 1982, Duke of Loule Palace (the main building), also known as “the box of almonds”, was built in 1873 and was home to several royal families.

We stayed in an upstairs room in the original Place Building accessed by an old school lift. The room with it’s porthole windows overlooking the beach was reminiscent of staying on a ship. Luxurious bedding, and divine but eclectic interior decorations add to the feeling of luxury and elegance.

The food from the restaurant for breakfast, lunch and dinners on the terrace, by the pool or in the dining room overlooking the sea was all really good, making it difficult to tear oneself away to explore restaurants and bars in the town…although we did that as well and enjoyed it greatly.

The restaurant in it’s own right is very worth a visit with beautiful salads, club sandwiches, fresh seafood and a good wine list.

We also enjoyed long walks along the sea to Estoril and the other way to the Lighthouse. The weather was perfect and whilst there were many tourists it was relaxed and very enjoyable.

Cascais is a great escape by the sea, only 30 minutes from the centre of Lisbon. We just caught an Uber down and then back to Lisbon airport. A lovely way to chill out on the coast without having to travel too far.

Roda Viva rocks Mozambique flavours #alfama #mozambique #lisbon

Feeling a bit miserable today with a cold and dreaming about sunny Lisbon and the fantastic foods and flavours we experienced on our recent visit there.

One of our eating adventures involved finding the atmospheric Mozambican restaurant Roda Viva in a small alleyway in Beco do Mexias 11 In The Alfama.

We had visited Castelo de Sao Jorge earlier that morning enjoying stunning views across Lisbon and soaking up the history of the 11th century castle and then walked down to Beco de Mexias through winding cobblestone backstreets of Alfama. Walking down was. A great way to get a close up look at the ancient houses, trendy artisan shops and restaurants, but we definitely needed Google maps to guide us to our destination as it would be very easy to get lost in the labyrinth of streets around here.

We were warmly welcomed into the tiny narrow restaurant by the waiter/chef Octavio Chamba, a Mozambican chef and anthropologist with a passion for percussion who moved to Lisbon 10 years ago to study ethnomusicology.

We settled in and immediately ordered icy cold Mozambique 2M Mac-Mahon beer to quench our thirst after the hot walk.

Mozambique was an important strategic colony of Portugal’s acting as a layover post for Portuguese explorers on their way to India and the Far East. There is a small population of Mozambican expats but quite a few well known restaurants serving the fusion African eastern food.

We ordered traditional Capucha stew with a mixture of beef, pork, chicken sweet corn and beans and their famous crab curry which came with a hot chilli sauce on the side and rice. The meal was different and delicious. (It is the crab curry that I would like right now to fix this cold!!)

The restaurant is decorated with straw hats and traditional Mozambican fabrics and the service was warm and friendly.

A great stopover during our exploration of Lisbon and a nice way to connect with the Portuguese history of colonisation, exploration and voyaging. We continued our walk to the Port and beyond.

Shedding new light on modern Australian dining #Lamshed #canberra

Brilliant dinner at Lamshed in Canberra on Friday night. Waiter suggested AUD$45pp shared plates but we got to choose what we wanted from the menu.

Started with fennel cured kingfish with orange, tarragon and lightly pickled fennel. The combination of flavours was perfect. This was followed by Sweet potato “schnitzel” with tzatziki…the sweet potato was crumbs and deep fried but the cool yoghurt cucumber tzatziki made it all feel healthy and fresh!

The wine list is excellent and we enjoyed a beautiful Rose and moving to an Albariño as we progressed through the various dishes.

One of the specials was the slow cooked lamb neck perfectly spiced with what tasted like all-spice and wrapped into cabbage rolls and garnished with dill. Another special was pan-fried fish of the day with a sweet pea puréed sauce, peas and pea tendrils.

The eggplant tempura with white miso was divine as was the the pressed oxtail, celeriac and fregola.

Every course was an imaginative combination of ingredients and flavours delivering an overall excellent dining experience.

We finished the meal with cheese and a bottle of 2015 Campbell’s of Rutherglen Durif.

The restaurant that is in Yarralumla is minimalist but warm and the open kitchen adds a buzz of activity and atmosphere to the dining room.

We went with a party of 6 which was great for trying lots of dishes.

Traditional fare with style @ La Taberna Das Rua Flores #lisbon

We were staying in Bairro Alto in Lisbon which is now a pretty touristy part of town, but peppered with lots of great bars and restaurants.

I had read that Taberna Da Rua Das Flores was a small but very popular restaurant serving traditional Portuguese fare in an atmospheric narrow terrace just near Lago Chiado. We arrived about 9.30pm and put our names down for the first available table which we were told would be about an hour later. When in Lisbon, plan to eat late!!

We wandered over the road to Palacio Chiado, a fabulous restaurant and bar in a converted palace. We ate freshly shucked oysters and had a few drinks as a pre-cursor to dinner.

When we wandered back over to the Taberna, we were invited to sit on the stairs inside and contemplate the blackboard menu with the daily specials all written in Portuguese while we waited another 15 minutes or so for our table. Even though it was about 10.45pm by now the restaurant was still hopping.

The waiter helped us understand the menu and we ordered grilled prawns, the tomato salad featuring multiple different types of delicious tomatoes and pork with onions and coriander.

Dinner kicked off in traditional style with bread and olives and we ordered a bottle of Vale Da Capucha Fossil 2016 organic red wine. Vale Da Capucha is a winery on the Atlantic coast near Lisbon. It was very nice.

In fact the entire dinner was lovely and we really felt like we had experienced a traditional Portuguese Taberna. See below the description of the restaurant with more details from the Lisboa Cool website.

And with the bill, came 2 complimentary glasses of Ginja, Portuguese cherry liquer to apologise for the lengthy wait! They had apparently unfortunately run out of the chocolate cups that the liquer is served in but it was delicious anyway.

(From Wikipedia: Ginjinha or simply Ginja, is a Portuguese liqueur made by infusing ginja berries (sour cherry, Prunus cerasus austera, the Morello cherry) in alcohol (aguardente is used) and adding sugar together with other ingredients.)

“The decor is reminiscent of old taverns and the menu, which is surprisingly presented to each table on a giant blackboard, displays the daily dishes/snacks. The selection refers to snacks of yesterday, genuinely Portuguese, from the north to the south of the country, covering our most typical food, but with a very simple contemporary twist.

The house wine is served in low glasses, the lemonade according to Portuguese tradition, and the snacks are always split up, after all, the Portuguese like to share! 

The highlight goes to the clams, very tasty, as well as the fresh tuna in sesame, topped off with a chocolate mousse with cherry and liquor dessert, which together, makes a great combination. Never count on the same dish: dishes are made with whatever is fresh that day, and are generally guided by the chef’s taste and inspiration.

Here you can only pay in cash, so forget the credit card, just like in old Lisbon!” From Lisboa Cool website

O’ Surf and Turf #timeoutmarkets #lisbon

There are mixed reviews of O’Surf and Turf, Famous Portuguese chef Kiko Martins’ Time Out Market restaurant in Lisbon, where he combines meat and seafood in innovative recipes.

However, we thought the opportunity to try his food without the fuss of organising a booking or the expense of his most famous restaurant A Cevercheria at this informal restaurant was a good one and it certainly worked out that way. It was also fun to soak in the busy, buzzy atmosphere of the markets and watch the chefs at work by sitting inside at the bar for lunch.

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Whilst I admittedly have had better prawns in garlic sauce that we shared as a starter, the other dishes and the bread and snacks were excellent.

The toasted corn kernels and the dips served with the bread, including the soft egg with Paprika was interesting to kick off the meal.

The cod served on a bed of chestnut purée was a fabulous combination of sweet and salty, and the roasted octopus with a smoky paprika sauce and sago flavoured with black squid ink was delicious.

Probably not the place for those looking for more traditional Portuguese fare but definitely a great place to sample some of the emerging and exciting foodie scene in Lisbon.