Well before we ever went to Italy, which by the way was now a month ago (yes, I am THAT far behind!), the island where we live had Feira de Gastronomia, which is the closest we will get to Restaurant Week here in the middle of the Atlantic.
So, how does this work? I think there were 11 or 12 different restaurants on the list. All involved must offer a special 3 course menu for 9 euro (about $13). Each restaurant must offer 3 different entree selections. One must feature a meat, one a seafood, and one that is lighter (called the healthy entree). The appetizer and dessert will be the same, but you pick your entree. They don't bring the bread and all those goodies unless you ask, which is different from how things usually work here.
After the meal you will receive a score card to rate various aspects of the meal and the facility. This promotion runs about 2 weeks, and after the votes are tallied, awards are presented to the winners, and they may display these and use their winning in advertising themselves during the year. Oh, and when you vote you are entered in a drawing for what we think was 50 free meals (or dinner every week for about a year).
We managed to get to a few of them before we went out of town. We started with Porto das Pipas. When we arrived we spotted this ship docked right there and thought we would investigate. Boats this big rarely stop here, although it is not unheard of.
The appetizer was a piece of fried cheese.
Ryan ordered the chicken with a pepper stuffed with something mashed (this was not his favorite), and I had the cod, with tomato. You can see it is shredded pieces of the fish on top of potatoes (I think..boy was this a long time ago).
Here is the dessert:
Just in case you are curious, you can see what the score card looks like.
The next meal we tried was at Ambientes com Sabores, which is one of the priciest places on the island, so it was nice to see the discounted menu. On the way to dinner we took a stroll by the beach. Again, we spotted a boat bigger than most that come in here.
The starter was a pea soup. The one thing I really liked about this was that there was an egg. If you look closely you can see the white circle, and that is an egg. We really are not sure how this was prepared. The yolk was hard and not runny.
Ryan had the pork, and I had the veja (parrotfish in English). Mine was really good, but Ryan was not really feeling the pork.
I LOVE this presentation of the dessert. This is a passionfruit white chocolate cheesecake. The flower garnish is made from pineapple.
After dinner we sat out in the main square for some fresh air and the view.
The next place we tried, and please keep in mind these were not all in the same night, (as I am writing I am thinking that someone might get the wrong idea!) was O Pescador. The starter was fava beans, but had ham in it, so Ryan tried this and I passed.
But I did order some olives just to have something to munch on.
I ordered the...wait for it...SHARK! Do not ask what possessed me to do this. Actually, upon further research, I think the species is more fish like than a big, mean shark. It was delicious, and I can't even believe I am saying that. It was not too chewy and not even steak-like.
Ryan had the steak. I thought this was a neat idea to serve with a fried quail egg on top.
The dessert was amazing. This is gingerbread cake with chocolate mousse. YUM! This was definitely a top meal.
Again, we took a walk after dinner to enjoy the nice night air and the scenery.
The next we went was Casa de Peixe, which means house of fish. They have an amazing view too because they are located right over the beach. There were some people jet skiing, so that was fun to watch.
We know they have olives here, so we couldn't resist ordering some.
While we waited for the food the server let us read his fun book. I should mention we always look at this book while we are here. He carries it with him so if a guest asks about a fish he will know all about it.
The starter was a seafood "cake".
Ryan and I both ordered the fish, which was served with a traditional side of potatoes and olives and I am not sure what else, but it was good.
Dessert was another pudding-ish cake. It was like peanut butter or similar to that.
Walking back to the car we stopped to admire the tile mural.
Alright, we made it to the last place we tried, just before heading to Italy. This was at Sabores do Chef, one of our favorite places to eat. The appetizer was fried squid. It was really good, and Ryan even enjoyed it. He is not a huge seafood person, but he does like fish.
For the entree we both ordered the fish dish, which was like a bread and fried, white flaky fish, with soy sauce.
Dessert was ice cream with a crazy pear. Not sure how the pear was prepared, but I have never had it like that before.
Overall, this was an awesome experience to see each restaurant create unique dishes and then show off their establishments to the public. It was a lot of fun.
QUESTIONS: Have you ever participated in anything like this? Which place do you think you would have wanted to try?
So, things are kinda-sorta getting back to normal, except for the part where we are moving soon. I am short on time, even for things that have to get done before we move, but I am working hard on updating my blog on all the things we have been up to over the past month. I want to apologize again for not being so present in the blog world and not able to comment as often as I would like. I promise soon enough I will get back to commenting on all of your great blogs.