What looks to become a regular community event at Caldo Verde in the Proper Downton Los Angeles, Suzanne Goin and partner Caroline Styne welcomed Celebrating Portugal: The Cookbook contributor Miguel Andrade to the restaurant for a culinary discussion among chefs, and a multi-course meal made up of recipes from the book.
Moderated by Goin and followed by a sitdown dinner, Andrade passionately discussed the history and evolution of Portuguese cuisine and origins of the book’s recipes that are heavily composed of soups, greens, beans, shellfish and pork, as well as the travels and discoveries the Portuguese chef shared with Goin and Styne in anticipation of opening Caldo Verde.
“Everyone seems to connect Portugal with the Mediterranean countries,” Andrade told the rapt crowd as they sipped Portuguese Highballs and wines. “But, in fact, Portugal isn’t on the Mediterranean Sea, we are on the Atlantic, and our cuisine reflects that and makes it different from Spain, Italy or Greece. The waters of the Atlantic are much colder and rougher, which makes our seafood even better. On the other hand, because we were on the edge of Europe in the shadow of Spain, we didn’t have connections with other countries and originally there were less vegetables. So we set sail across the Atlantic to expand our culinary horizons in Africa and Asia.”
Those origins were represented in the whopping 10 dishes Goin prepared from the book, including battered green beans and asparagus, grilled sardines with potatoes and peppers, stewed broad beans, octopus stew, creamy cod rice, corn porridge and Venus clams with sausage, Portuguese pork and bean stew as well as bread porridge with shellfish, a dish that came out of the country’s impoverished beginnings. For dessert there was soft sponge cake from Alfeizerao with strawberries and a delicate orange flan with Madeira. The stewed broad beans are likely to find a permanent home on the Caldo Verde menu, a nod to fond memories of Andrade and their Portuguese adventures.
“I drove the kitchen crazy with all these dishes,” Goin tells L.A. Weekly at last week’s event. “There are just so many great recipes in this book, I simply couldn’t narrow it down.”
Joining the informal evening in the restaurant, which felt more like a bustling conversation corner at sunset in the middle of Europe instead of downtown L.A, were Goin’s family led by husband and fellow chef David Lentz, former Chez Panisse coworker, and current Lulu chef David Tanis and Akasha’s Akasha Richmond. Also on hand was Ken Concepcion from L.A.’s beloved cookbook shop Now Serving, where the book is currently sold.