Members of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs from the Algarve started to celebrate Christmas with their traditional gala dinner on Friday, December 1.
Celebrations this year were very different as the dinner, together with lunch on Saturday, December 2, was a national event in which they were joined not only by their guests but also by Chaîne members and their guests from other Bailliages in Portugal.
The venue for the dinner was the Grand Salon restaurant in the stunning Grand House hotel in the very east of the Algarve in Vila Real de Santo António. Grand House hotel can be classed as a Belle Époque hotel, and the bar and restaurant with Christmas decorations certainly radiated a warm and welcoming atmosphere.
A welcome “Christmas Spirit” cocktail was served in the bar to start the evening, after which the diners were seated for a meal especially prepared by Chef Jan Stechmesser and his brigade.
The chef combines traditional Portuguese gastronomy with his own modern twist. A cold starter of codfish carpaccio with pink prawns was served with Arvad Rosé wine and followed by chestnut cream soup with black truffle. Cataplana flavours with black garlic and molluscs, including goose barnacles, followed, served with Arvad Touriga Nacional 2020.
The main course from the land was pheasant, Brussels’ sprouts, wild mushrooms and cranberry jus, accompanied by Arvad Reserva 2019. The meal was brought to a close with a dessert of mango variations and petit fours with coffee. Christmas crackers and hats were in evidence!
Chef Jan Stechmesser was thanked by Bailli de l’Algarve Marie Anne Ferran on behalf of those present.
After a superb breakfast at the “Grand”, including Eggs Benedict for the brave ones, the celebrations continued at Noélia’s famous restaurant in Cabanas de Tavira. Apart from now being a judge for MasterChef on Portuguese television, Chef Noélia has been famous for years for her perfect handling of the freshest fish, and again she did not disappoint!
The feast started with mackerel on toast, marinated cavala with xerém and caviar, a fish soup with coconut and a ceviche of sea-bream, followed by red mullet on a leek purée served with its liver on toast and a dish of marinated scallops with avocado.
The two superb main courses were octopus with sweet potatoes and a lemon rice with sea bass. The amazing lunch finished rather late with a selection of desserts, and our thanks go to Noélia for concluding another great weekend of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs!
If you enjoy good food and good company, you might be interested in joining the oldest and largest gastronomic association in the world. For information contact the Bailli of the Algarve, Marie-Anne, on email [email protected]
By VALERIE LANTAU