Gastronomy

September Creations

"After all, the best way to travel is to feel." – Fernando Pessoa

September progressed in a fun and impactful way at O Paparico. From the Salty Kitchen to the Pastry, the notion of time faded with the involvement between what was tasted and the wording of what the mouth was perceiving as it discovered flavours that held as much of a feeling of home as they did of the unprecedented. The rudimentary idea of space was deconstructed with each stimulus. The restaurant is intrinsically a storyteller, but it is in this vortex of palates that its confidences were whispered.

The childhood memories of chef Rúben Santos translated his inspirational motto and launched the "Sardinha na Brasa" on the table, with an involving meaning of sharing and family. The Alentejo tradition was enhanced in the contemporary version of the "Gaspacho Verde de Mexilhão", which added a little provocation to the palate. The "Tomate Coração de Boi em Água de Unto" transformed the passion for the product into a striking combination of flavours that highlighted all its magnificence and sumptuousness.

Pastry Chef Ana Macedo reserved one of her favourite flavour combinations for the preparation of the "Framboesa, Rosa e Líchias" dessert. The "Barriga de Freira e Ameixas" expressed a perfect balance between tradition and contemporaneity, between the complexity of the conventual sweet and the lightness of the fruit. Continue reading this article with us and let yourself be involved by the beautiful description of each creation.

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Born and raised in the heart of Oporto, Chef Rúben Santos wanted, through "Sardinha na Brasa", to recreate a dish that, in a way, revived his family's memories of St. John's Day. In union with the typical neighbourly feeling, it is still possible to feel the smoky aroma of the sardines and peppers, accompanied by the joyful squeals of the children, the grown-ups' happy laughter, the popular Portuguese music and, finally, the salutary marches through the streets of the town, in which everyone was supplied with hammers and leeks. Like good soldiers, prepared for a war where the prevailing sentiment is only the love of tradition.

In the creation process, the sardines were cured with a mixture of salt and sugar, which guaranteed firmness to the meat. In order to ensure the crispness of its skin, it was brushed with a glaze composed of vinegar, fermented soya paste and sugar. Afterwards, grilled until it reached the expected crispness, its raw interior preserved the intensity and fatty flavour characteristic of the fish. Its marinated roe, entitled caviar of Portugal, added a fine and ferrous touch to the dish while intensifying its sea-iodised impact. The protein was accompanied by lightly smoked green pepper salad and shallot, in a gastronomic procession in honour of this celebratory day. The creation was finished with a sauce of "escabechado" sea urchin, which even though it eschewed the tradition of St. John's, glorified our coast and gave it a bold touch.

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The Alentejo is inspiring for its natural beauty and gastronomic richness. Traditionally plant-based, we recall Alentejo gazpacho through an irreverent interpretation but balanced between green products of the land, cucumber, pepper, chilli, tomato, melon and lettuce and a hint of sea air, elevated by our chef's affective link with the sea, which took care of electing mussels as the element in evidence.

In the "Gaspacho Verde de Mexilhão", the molluscs were steamed in order to maintain the ideal point of succulence of its meat. Marinated in a spice oil based on garlic, ginger and smoked chillies, this worked as a preservation method - a kind of canning - but the main function was to enhance the intensity of the creation. The water from the mussels themselves, resulting from their prior steaming, was used as the basis for preparing the remaining elements, in order to perpetuate their flavour. We highlight the use of pennyroyal, a typical herb of this part of the country, which added coherence and geographical context to the dish, as well as giving it a herbal touch which complements the acidity and freshness of the gazpacho. Despite the simple elaboration, this dish was characterised by the contrast of natural textures, originating from the food itself, such as the crunch of the cucumber in counterpoint with the silky consistency of the mussels. Fresh and vibrant, the acidic and slightly spicy notes present in the composition made it memorable.

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The ox heart tomato was the product in evidence in the creation, as it's one of Chef Rúben Santos' favourites. Lightly grilled, in order to maintain its juicy body, it was an integral part of the salad, also composed of marinated micro tomatoes, anchovy emulsion, bisaro pork lardo, chicory and oregano. In addition, the unctuousness present in the small spheres of caviar meant a penetrating and intense twist on the palate. The creation, finished with a tepid version of the "água de unto", kept the emphasis on the tradition of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro. The contrast of temperatures is also very interesting, in that the solid elements of the dish are presented mostly cold which contrasts with the hot liquid element. It should be pointed out that there is no salt added to the composition. The saltiness present comes from the food itself, namely the caviar, as well as the lardo and the ham - present in the broth. The "Tomate Coração de Boi em Água de Unto" portrays the duality of sea and land, fish and meat, as well as the combination of products of extreme nobility and others with more humble characteristics. If we were asked to define this creation with one word, it would undoubtedly be comfort.

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Pastry chef Ana Macedo was inspired by this traditional sweet from Arouca, produced by the hands of Bernard nuns in the extinct convent of Santa Mafalda. The "barriga de freira" as it happened with part of the Portuguese traditional confectionery, was also made by taking advantage of the flavour. In this particular case, they used the egg yolks left over from the egg whites which were used to iron the nuns' habits. Along with the recipe, the plums, the fruit of seasonality, were the distinctive element of this dessert, having been used both fresh and preserved through the fermentation method.

The frenzy created on the palate by the "Barriga de Freira e Ameixas", consisted of a ballet of emotions driven by the sweetness of the "barriga de freira", the vibrant flavour of the fermented plum, the freshness and some acidity of the fresh plum, the lightness of the foam and the crunchiness of the cardamom crumble together with the note of dried fruit that the cashew confers. The ice cream, besides reinforcing the fruit flavour, presents a clear contrast of temperature. It should be noted that, technically, the fermentation of the plum - because it was brought to the ideal point - was what defined the balance between tradition and contemporaneity, in which the main factor was time. Thus, this dessert had the perfect sweetness, acidity and umami to create a masterpiece that was as complex as it was light and elegant.

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The trio of flavours in the "Framboesas, Rosa e Líchias" dessert is one of pastry chef Ana Macedo's favourite combinations. Precisely influenced by seasonality, she highlighted raspberries and roses as imperial elements. Here, where creativity knows no limits, a unique piece was created with distinct elements, such as Ruby chocolate crumble, lychee and raspberry jam and rose mousse, which were later immersed in white chocolate. Lychee cream, raspberry gel, as well as fresh raspberries and rose petals were added on top. A savoury crumble and raspberry sorbet were served with it. On the palate, one could distinguish the complexity between the floral elements, not very sweet, but with a certain acidity in balance with the characteristic and somewhat unctuous taste of white chocolate. Both rose and lychee have a floral flavour that, used sparingly, presents a unique elegance that, together with the vibrant and acidic raspberry flavour, created a refreshing, delicate and exquisite dessert to finish the menu. Le grand finale!