Lisboa: What to do When in Porto

Posted on July 4, 2006

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by claudia dias

(Ed. note: No, Porto is not in Lisboa – it’s Portugal’s second largest city…)

I don’t think I ever used my blog to advertise anything (maybe a bookshop or two and my dentist 🙂 but I finally found a "product" I can sponsor with the greatest conviction.

A rainy evening in Porto. A crooked street near the the river Douro waterfront, in Miragaia. I called in advance to book a table and on the other side was someone who was not just booking tables but was trying to chat with me, addressing me by my name and asking if I knew how the restaurant worked. I dismissively said yes, believing it was one more of these places mushrooming all around offering a "menu degustation". How I was wrong.

I was surprised to find a tiny restaurant. The host introduced himself and asked for our names. From then on, a very presonal treatmet: "my good friend Claudia, please have a sip of this honeydew melon juice". On the table sat beakers bearing a greenish liquid. The lamp looked also like a beaker. Later I found that this was really a laboratory. Sensory experiments.

The host, Mario, brought chilled white wine and grapes "to dress the table". We were invited to taste the wine before and after having a grape. To feel the nuances between sweet and sour. We tasted different types of olive oil, we were given quizzes – which olive oil was used in the confection of this dish?, we were incited to moist the tips of our fingers with olive oil and flower of salt and suck them like kids. Mario, our host, is also the resident DJ; a cool, lounge music was playing. A popular party outside brought some new sounds and, while we waited for our next course, Mario invited us to take our white port glasses outside and dance. An unusual combination of tastes and smells were successively presented. He sprayed balsamic vinegar on my ice cream and you know what? It was delicious.

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A series of the most carefully selected wines and tasty dishes – while we played with luminous gadgets – were accompanied by Mario’s bright dissertations on smell, touch and taste.

A feast for the senses and a great experience. That is what I call service. And I’m not even talking about the food…

When we left, I almost felt like I just had dinner over at a good friend’s place.

*****

À mesa com Bacchus
Rua de Miragaia, 127
4050-387 Porto
Tel: 222 000 896

 

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Posted in: lisboa, travel