The Best Possible Guest

… is one who cooks a beautiful meal for you.  Wow.

A friend has come to visit who said she doesn’t really know how to cook but has had two lunchtime lessons at a cooking school in London and knows two recipes.  She made one last night.  She is showing great promise.

The dish was a seabass filet on a cake of smashed potatoes with lots of parsley and olive oil, and a wonderful sauce of red pepper and choriço in a reduction of sherry vinegar.  Divine. What most impressed me was the presentation – when she went to the shop for her groceries, she also bought an octagonal biscuit-cutter looking device, which she said was for presentation.  Presentation?  You don’t just put the food on the plate?  Nope.  The smashed potatoes were spooned into the tin octagon and compacted down, the perfectly sautéed fillet was place on top, and the chunky reduction was spooned all around the perimeter of the plate, and a little bit on top of the fish.  Very beautiful, tasted wonderful.

I feel challenged to improve my own game now on cooking and presentation, but I am not sure how one best presents toast and a glass of water for breakfast.

With it, thanks to a generous boss who said I could take home a bottle leftover from a tasting, we had a wonderful red wine, Symington Family Estates’ Altano Quinta do Ataide Reserva 2008.  This is a wonderful classic Douro red, with floral, herbal and black fruit notes uppermost and crunchy tannins.  As Paul explained to the visitor, we don’t generally do single varietal wines, we believe in the beauty and complexity of blended wines, but this pure Touriga Nacional was too good not to go with as a single-varietal finished wine.  Yes, dear reader, a red wine with fish.  Try it some time.

7 thoughts on “The Best Possible Guest

    • Oh well spotted, Margaret! I admit I thought of trimming the crusts but I didn’t reach the point of thinking of the biscuit cutter… you see what a long way I have to go on this presentation stuff!! Thanks for stopping by!

  1. Indeed.

    Although I’m afraid you won’t find much inspiration in food presentation here. Just like very many other things here, the Portuguese food is as splendid as it looks dulll. It used to bother me in the beginning; I was sick of there not being any other way of eating fish than its dead eyes staring at you from the stainless steel plate. I now love it. And have come to realize that a lot of what was difficult for me in the beginning is what I love now and it has to do exactly with this. Portugal and Porto in particular never tries to please you. It doesn’t do much to cover up its shortcomings nor to lift up its splendour. It’s there. If you don’t see it, it’s your fault.

    The you here is of course the proverbial one, since it’s very clear from your blog that you Cynthia had no problems in seeing this!

    • Hear, hear! You have expressed very well about Portugal and Porto and their relationship with visitors. A tourist needs to be curious and open minded, and then it is astonishing and rewarding. My friend’s visit is taking me back into explorer mode again, which is wonderful – hope to have another blog posting shortly about yesterday’s discoveries. Thank you, Failbetter!

  2. I adore red wine with fish! And especially if the fish involves delicious deep-red tomatoes, or red peppers like your one here… mmm…

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