The Rota das Estrelas: Casa de Chá da Boa Nova

 Some articles sin for being late, but at a month from the 2018 stars revelation, and since this year everything is very quiet as to the names that get or maintain stars (go figure the media phenomena), we are in a good time to speak of those who usually shine the most: the chefs!

And to do so, nothing as good as a “Rota das Estrelas” aka Stars Route dinner, where 4 of the most successful chefs in Portugal gather to dine, with the ocean as background.

The baton went to Rui Paula, the host in his Casa de Chá da Boa Nova, receiving Hans Neuner (Ocean, **Michelin), Miguel Rocha Vieira (Fortaleza do Guincho, Costes, Costes Downtown, *Michelin), Rui Silvestre (Bon Bon, *Michelin), well put… some guys with pedigree.

An irresistible Iberian prosciutto with a sharp cut  

The party started outside, with the typical shy sun of Porto, but with enough Pommery champagne to transport us to a better climate! Also with a flawless Iberian prosciutto nicely cut by Vítor Oliveira from Academia de Corte, and an artisanal smoked salmon made at Boa Nova, a very nice surprise.

 Artisanal smoked salmon

And we kept going with the summer snacks of Boa Nova that we already knew from other visits and a colorful selection of bread, with variety and ingredients for every taste.

Seaweed and sardine macaron

António Lopes (Wine Guru, Anantara Vilamoura) was the invited sommelier to join Carlos Monteiro

During the bustle of organizing the guests, time flies by while enjoying all the charms of Casa de Chá da Boa Nova and its perfect location, that even with bad weather transmits us unique sensations (it is indeed a unique and special room).

At a good pace arises a glass of Cattier “Clos du Moulin” Rosé, the champagne that would be the perfect match for the dish to follow, with its red fruits and verbena notes.

Rui Paula – King Crab, Tomato, and Strawberry
A light, fresh and deceptively simple dish. Great rigor in the execution of the fruits, tomatoes, and emulsions, but for a perfect start, the King crab should’ve been the hero, but in the end, it was a bit dry and cut to small.

Hans Neuner – Oyster, smoked foie gras and pineapple from the Azores
This dish brought me memories from a great meal at Ocean, where this dish stood out from the rest. Not being at the same level of the version presented at Ocean (for obvious reasons), with the pineapple taking a bit over the dish. Yet, an irresistible starter!

Good pairing with the creaminess of the bubble and the fresh ending of the glass of Billecart Salmon Blanc Des Blancs.

Rui Silvestre – Lobster of the Atlantic, egg yolk and Imperial caviar
Some dishes, despite having the noblest ingredients, and the best execution, don’t get us excited. It lacked soul (and possibly a broth) to take it to the next level.

Accompanying the dish was a Principal Rosé 2010, a controversial wine around the table, some considering it had lost power and energy, but I enjoyed it and it went very well with the fatter side of the dish.

Rui Paula – A Homage to Fisherman
The inspiration came from a Chora (a traditional soup of our fishermen’s recipes), here present in the sauce, and in the foam giving life to the dish, where the textures and the fishes created the perfect symbiosis and made of it the dish of the night. Very good!

To go with, a perfect choice, one of my favorite wines from the Vinho Verde region, the Ameal Escolha 2015, a great year, in which this example of a 100% Loureiro showcases in all its splendor, with freshness and lots of complexity.

Miguel Rocha Vieira – White grouper, artichokes, and squid from the Azores
I like the way the chef Miguel Rocha Vieira usually thinks his fish dishes through and the way he adds them strong contrasts of earthy flavors, with beetroots, carrots or in this case, the artichoke. Technically flawless in the presentation, despite having some flaws in the cooking of the fish – it is one of those cases that if prepared by his team during a normal service would make us applaud it!

It was an excellent moment, even more, when paired with the 2015 Niepoort VV, the great white Dirk Niepoort created at Bairrada from a combination of Maria Gomes and Bical.

Rui Paula – Corn and roast sauce
It’s impressive to see the evolution of Rui Paula’s cuisine in the last few years, I remember less than ten years ago him serving his roasted lamb, his Loin steak pastels, and then the evolution to dishes like roosterfish with lime risotto, and some risky textures and presentations. Evolution is just that, to learn, create and execute, and in Rui Paula’s case learning to leave some elements aside and highlight those he decides to use.

Here presenting a good game of textures around the corn, with a puree, corncob, baby corn, blini and popcorn (unnecessary), sweet flavors, tunned by the seaweed and the roast sauce, that despite not being much did wonders to the combo.

And if up to this point the wine choices were great, this moment was not the exception, with the impressive Quinta da Pellada Primus 2015. Still very young to be totally appreciated, but an impressive wine, for its minerality, acidity or its freshness and longevity in the mouth. A great wine!

Pre-Dessert 

A pause in the dinner and the pre-dessert arrives, well worked by Rui Paula’s team, with warm and rich flavors of the chocolate, fig, and cherry. Very good!

Rui Paula – Hazelnut, cereals and toasted bread 
A dish I tasted on a previous visit to Boa Nova. A combination that transports us to breakfast, with its comfort flavors and ingredients very well worked.

Yet, after a long meal, I would opt for something lighter and fresher to finish (always my type of option in a menu dinner).

To finish not one, but two, wines; a Porto Dalva Colheita 2007 and a Madeira Barbeito “Bual” 1995. Both in excellent shape, but the Madeira won my heart for a final sip. Ricardo Diogo and his team are making such great wines!

And speaking of wine, a highlight to Carlos Monteiro and António Lopes work, both for the great selection of wine we were presented with and for the way they harmonized it with the dishes.

Final Remarks
Events like the “Rota das Estrelas” are not “extraordinary gastronomic moments” because each chef shines brightest in its own kitchen, his habitat and with his team. But for sure are great parties, gastronomic parties, wherein a dinner you are able to gather 4 or 5 names that won’t easily gather again and taste dishes that otherwise we would’ve to travel around the country to taste (well, but the food is already the main reason I travel for!).

About this dinner, I have to congratulate the chefs and mostly the host, Rui Paula, who received cooks and guests in his unpaired scenario with his usual savoir faire.

A toast to the chefs and the new stars to come!

Versão Portuguesa

Photos: Flavors & Senses 

Rota das Estrelas

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