20 Years of Cafeína: Pedro Bastos and Esporão

caf Vasco Mourão and his Cafeína don’t need introductions, it has been one of the great restaurants of success in Porto for 20 years now, being consensual among the usual guests, tourists and celebrities, or the most demanding oenophiles and gastronomes.

And are precisely those 20 years that Cafeína proposes to celebrate in a unique way: opening its doors to other ideas and cuisines, organizing unique lunches and dinners that will certainly take Cafeína’s guests out of their comfort zones and travelling through other worlds and flavors.

To start, nothing better than a dinner with a young chef, Pedro Pena Bastos (Herdade do Esporão), who had his debut behind the stove in this very same kitchen, and who on the past September 16th headed it, side by side with Camilo Jaña.

caf20pedrobastos - 2Pedro Pena Bastos 

After passing through a series of renown kitchens and specializing in private events, Pedro surrendered to the charms of Herdade do Esporão, leading its kitchen since the end of 2014, with a peculiar concept that he calls “Tempo da Terra” (Time of the Land), taking advantage of the vegetables and herbs they plant in the homestead gardens, as well as the animals that are raised there in communion with nature. A contemporary cuisine concept that makes of Pedro a “little” Dan Barber (Blue Hill) based on the gastronomical roots of Alentejo and the purity of the seasonal natural product’s flavor.

And so, “Tempo da Terra” arrived to Porto among the Esporão wines, a harmonization presented by José Luís Moreira da Silva, the resident oenologist of Quinta dos Murças.

caf20pedrobastos - 5Chickpeas Crackling and Cuttlefish Ink with Smoked Codfish Roe Mousse 

After the nice seed bread and the excellent butter foam followed the first Amuse-bouche, Chickpeas crackling and Cuttlefish Ink with Smoked Codfish Roe Mousse, a crunchy bite and well combined with the mousse, with highlight to the smoked notes and the chickpeas. Followed the Gazpacho, Bone Marrow and Tapioca, a more interesting dish, fresh, with a good texture game, elevated by the greasiness of the marrow.

caf20pedrobastos - 6 caf20pedrobastos - 7 Gazpacho, Bone Marrow and Tapioca 

Harmonizing with the Amuse-Bouche was the Assobio Rosé from 2014, produced at Quinta das Murças, property of Esporão, in Douro. A wine in the line of the more usual rosés, with red fruits, specially raspberry and sweet notes.

caf20pedropena -xSquid and green beans, Jámon 40 Months, white grapes and Foie
One of the least consensual dishes of the evening, with the opinions varying from guest to guest. In my case I consider it to be an interesting and creative dish for its game of textures and temperatures (the grape and the foie snow are served iced), but needing a bit more work in terms of flavor, because the most subtle flavors, like the squid, get a little lost in the combination monopolized by the foie.

caf20pedrobastos - 8

caf20pedrobastos - 9Turbot, Fennel and Crayfish
A less risky dish, but not less creative. The crushed fennel gives substance and flavor the dish, the turbot, cooked two ways, surprises especially for the great panko breaded belly. The small crayfish gives sweet notes and another texture to the dish, besides the delicious bisque connecting all the elements. Very, very good!

In the glass we had, with these last two dishes, the Assobio Branco 2014, an interesting white among the profile of the less complex Douro whites. Mineral, fresh, with citric notes, worked very well with both dishes.

caf20pedrobastos - 10

caf20pedrobastos - 11Black pork from Alentejo, Parsnip and Port lees
The main course brought us one of the main elements of the gastronomy of Alentejo, the Black Iberian pig. A perfectly cooked tenderloin, succulent and still pink, well accompanied by the parsnip in different textures (chip, puree and roasted) and by the braised cabbage. Highlight to the pickled green almonds and to the connection to Porto with the sauce of lees, that connected all the elements very well. A great dish!

In the glass, the challenge was to harmonize with the Quinta das Murças Reserva 2010 and the Reserva 2011. If on one hand the Reserva 2011 reveals to be a more refined and elegant wine, indicating a prosperous future with its evolution in the bottle, the 2010 showed ready to accompany the dish, without overlapping the flavors of the food, completing it in the best way.

caf20pedrobastos - 12Red Figs, Beetroot and Hibiscus
To finish, an excellent red fig, slightly caramelized, over a layer of chocolate, well accompanied by the dehydrated beetroot, with its sweet notes and interesting texture, nicely connected with the hibiscus sauce and the fig leaf ice cream. An ending that meets my taste.

If the harmonization was made with Douro wines, a Port wine was mandatory with the dessert, a Quinta dos Murças Vintage from 2011. A wine with a beautiful color, still too young, going through the phase of “numbness” typical of a young Vintage.

To end the meal and accompanying the coffee and the petit four (some small pâte de fruits) was the brilliant Magistra, the awarded aguardente (distilled spirit drink) produced by Esporão at Lourinhã.

  caf20pedrobastos - 4       caf20pedrobastos - 1       caf20pedrobastos - 3

Final Remarks
Cafeína is to be congratulated, not only for its 20 years and the excellent way it reinvents itself throughout time, but also for the initiative of celebrating its birthday opening its doors and allowing others to shine and display in this unique stage. It was a night with a special atmosphere, a party environment mixed with a flutter of nervousness from the organization wanting everything to work the best way possible. As to Pedro Pena Bastos, he had indeed a brilliant night, with super high moments and unlikely combinations, showing that with 25 years old he’s one of the greatest young talents of the national cuisine. Given the right time and trust, his cuisine will for sure bring many joys to the restaurant of Herdade do Esporão, and he now left me wanting to know his cuisine and products in loco.

Rua do Padrão, 100, 4150-557 Porto
+351 226 108 059 | +351 226 189 953

Versão Portuguesa

 Photos: Flavors & Senses

We were at Cafeína with an invitation to the celebration of the first event of Cafeína’s 20 Years, whereas this not alter our work, being the opinion and the text of the exclusive responsibility of the author.

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