The Grand House Algarve commemorated its first birthday in style with a culinary celebration. In honour of the Grand House’s inauguration on February 7, 2019, the boutique hotel, located in Vila Real de Santo António along the Guadiana River, hosted two Grand Dinners at its restaurant, the Grand Salon.
The dinners were held on Friday (February 7) and Saturday (February 8), with the experiences combining the culinary skills of two renowned chefs, Jan Stechemesser and Tiago Bonito. Each Grand Dinner featured six “moments” matched with wine pairings and aimed to take guests on a sensorial trip through the north and south of Portugal.
The evening began at the Grand Salon Bar, where guests mingled over welcome cocktails before being invited into the Grand Salon’s sophisticated setting. With the restaurant’s soft candlelit glow, tables warmly decorated and each seat adorned by personalised, hand-written menus, it certainly set the scene for the elegant evening that had only just begun.
The first moment consisted of four melt-in-your-mouth tuna cubes with orange and algae garnishes and paired with a crisp white wine (Colinas do Douro Branco, 2016). Second came a succulent morsel of lobster, surrounded by caviar and citrus fruits – all swimming in a champagne sauce and complemented by a glass of white with fruity notes and a smooth finish (Quinta da Extrema Reserva Branco, 2017).
The middle moment featured red mullet with savoury scarlet prawns and ‘açorda’, joined by an oaky, aged white (Quinta da Extrema Branco Edition I, 2016).
The fourth moment welcomed slices of Arouquesa beef – cooked to absolute perfection – flanked by artichokes, wild mushrooms and dots of decadent truffle, served with a full-bodied red (Quinta da Extrema Reserva Tinto, 2017).
The fifth moment’s Amêndoa liqueur acted as a palate cleanser, offering the refreshing tastes of lavender, almonds and honey paired with a floral, velvety red (Quinta da Extrema Edition II, 2017).
The last but certainly not least moment presented the dessert, with a “from the childhood” theme. This blast-from-the-past treat spotlighted a translucent egg-shaped sugar “shell” (which created a fizzling sensation on the tongue – like a classic pack of Pop Rocks!) that was filled with a creamy popcorn-flavoured mousse, nested on a bed of pink cotton candy with a dollop of caramel and finished off with a late-harvest white made from sweet Muscat grapes (Colinas do Douro Colheita Tardia, 2015).
Every moment was immaculately executed. The products and ingredients clearly focused on seasonal products and sustainability while paying true homage to traditional cuisine, with the fresh-from-the-Algarve tuna and red mullet, and wines from the Douro region acting as prime examples. Reflecting on the hospitality, cuisine, wines and overall atmosphere of the Grand Salon, the only word to truly sum up the evening would have to be “grand”.
By CAMERON COBB
Photos: CHEFS AGENCY