A Triumph of
Taste and Texture
When Iceland’s Agnar Sverrisson, based at London’s Michelin starred Texture, comes together with Portugal’s Ricardo Costa, from the Michelin starred Yeatman Hotel in Porto, to create a menu for TASTE PORTUGAL’s February event, it can surely only be a success?
‘This event showcased just how high a calibre the talent and produce of Portuguese cuisine really is’
FULLY BOOKED UP in just three days, this week’s TASTE PORTUGAL event at the slick and sophisticated Texture, just around the corner from Marble Arch, had a lot of expectations attached to it, but, according to guest feedback on the night, it more than met everyone’s hopes and was described by some TASTE PORTUGAL regulars as ‘the best event yet’.
For those involved, the day began at 10am, when chef Ricardo Costa arrived at the venue with his commis chef, Rui Rocha, so as to get to know the kitchen and his hosting team. At 11am, they were joined by Francisca Passos, Costa’s other chosen and able aide for the evening.
After introducing his pair to the kitchen, Costa went off to explore London for a bit with TASTE PORTUGAL’s Justin and Persia, leaving Rui and Francisca to carry out the necessary preparations. Costa, for his part, had already done a lot of preparatory work back in Portugal.
At 3pm, Costa and co. returned to Texture, where they were joined by in house sommelier, Adrien Butko, and TASTE PORTUGAL’s award-winning head sommelier, Antonio Lopes, to discuss the wine list – put together in collaboration with WINES OF PORTUGAL – and to hear about the numerous grape varieties showcased.
At 5pm, our photographer Tom Watkins arrived, just in time, as the chefs began to lay out their dishes. Photographs were taken and then the chefs did a taste test and the sommeliers were also called across to taste the food and confirm that their wine pairings were suitable. Texture’s chef and co-owner Agnar Sverrisson –Aggi to his friends and colleagues –also turned up at this point.
From then on in it began to get hectic. The invited members of the press arrived at 6pm and the paying guests, ready for their welcome drink of the voluptuously sparkling Colinas Espumante Brut Rosé (2009), were hot on their heels. Justin gave a short welcoming speech and then it was time to eat.
As usual, the six course menu had been devised and prepared as a joint effort between the host chef, in this case Sverrisson, and the guest chef, in this case Costa. With Sverrisson renowned for his lean cuisine – he is a strong believer that fat doesn’t add flavour – the menu was both healthy and delicious. Of course, freshness of produce was key to the success of each dish as well.
Sverrisson opened the evening with something representing his own Scandinavian identity, together with an oriental twist: a delectable platter of Norwegian King Crab, served with coconut, ginger, lime leaf and lemongrass. This was paired with the exceptional Ameal Escolha (2013) from Pedro Araujo, with its nutty and citrus notes perfectly mirroring the coconut of the dish.
Following this came Costa’s light and frothy winter langoustine broth with crunchy langoustine and champagne sauce – a delight for the palate – perfectly matched with Ribeiro Santo Blanc de Noir Sparkling, from Carlos Lucas.
Costa continued the menu with a melt in the mouth portion of roasted cod, served with corn bread crumble, on a bed of chickpea purée. Here the star of the night as far as wine was concerned, Conceito Bastardo (2013), was brought out, much to the delight of the guests, who found its name as enchanting as its pale cherry red colour and sweet herby flavour.
The meat course was provided by Sverrisson in the form of a shoulder of Pyrénées milk-fed lamb, served with a symphony of fresh herbs and green vegetables, in its own jus. This was paired with Niepoort’s seductively dark yet fresh Robustus (2009), named after Dirk Niepoort’s first – and unreleased – wine from 1990, and now a regular favourite from the Douro winery.
Following Sverrisson’s refresher of blood orange, Costa brought on the grand finale of lightly crisped ham served together with requeijão (Portuguese cottage cheese), requeijão cream, pumpkin jam and cinnamon. To help draw the night to a close, a 20-year-old Tawny Port from Quinta de la Rosa was served.
The chefs came out of the kitchen to be met with much applause and many requests for signatures. Happy guests were also keen to find out the wine distributors’ details, so as to be able to purchase cases for private consumption.