Portuguese Street Food
BIFANAS ON BROADWAY
TASTE PORTUGAL is keen to present the very best of Portuguese food and wine at all levels, and, although less well-known in gastronomic circles, bifanas are a delicious and integral part of the country’s culinary history
Saturday 29 November, one of Lisbon’s top young chefs, José Avillez, will be in London to join the UK’s own Portuguese sensation, Nuno Mendes, on Broadway Market, Hackney, creating and selling some sumptuous pork bifanas at just £6 a go.
Born in the elegant seaside resort of Cascais, just west of Lisbon, in 1979, Avillez now runs four established and successful eateries in the city: Cantinho do Avillez, in the trendy district of Chiado; the nearby Michelin starred Belcanto; the Pizzaria Lisboa, a tribute to his father; and Café Lisboa, part of the São Carlos National Theatre. In addition to these, the young entrepreneur with a marketing background owns a takeaway and a pie chain, provides consultancy services, is involved in catering, writes and publishes books, and has his own television show. Unsurprisingly he regularly works a 16-hour day. Trained as both a sommelier and a chef, it was his time at the renowned El Bulli which perhaps most influenced Avillez’s molecular style. ‘I love creating dishes with the taste of the sea,’ he says, referring to his culinary style as ‘inspiration cuisine’. His culinary rules – and 22 commandments – focus first on flavour, with the techniques being used purely in service of the product.
A latecomer to cooking, Nuno Mendes studied marine biology at home in Portugal before enrolling in the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco aged 23. Like Avillez, Mendes also spent some time working at El Bulli. He is a pioneer in gastronomy who has explored the globe in search of unique ingredients, innovative techniques and first-hand experience on local farms. Now based in London, Mendes’ cuisine is much sought after by those in the know. This street food event will be a unique opportunity to taste something fresh and affordable made by the hands of a star.
Perhaps not so well-known abroad as bacalhau or Iberian porco preto, the bifana is just as typically Portuguese and is eaten by workmen in tasca all over the country. Basically it comprises a slice of lightly sautéed pork steak in a floury bread roll, which absorbs the juices of the meat. It is said that the bifana originated in the town of Vendas Novas in the Alentejo.
With more than 100 stalls offering a range of organic meat, fruit and vegetables, fresh fish, and delicious bread, cakes and cheese, Broadway Market has been trading since the late 19th century. This special event, hosted as part of TASTE PORTUGAL London’s programme, will add to the kaleidoscope of tastes and cultures, which crop up on a weekly basis between the Regent’s Canal and London Fields.