Friday, December 3, 2010

Field trip to Barcelos

We are hopelessly behind with our blog entries, but are planning to stay put for a while and get caught up with various aspects of our lives.

The first weekend in November, Eric and I took a bus to nearby Barcelos. We were on a food mission.  I had seen a flier advertising an Arroz Pica-No-Chão (translates to "rice picked off the ground") event. "Picked off the ground" refers to the eating behavior of chickens which form the base of this slow-cooked stew.  16 different restaurants in town were all going to be preparing their own special versions of this classic Portuguese dish and we did not want to miss out.

We were, pretty much, the only 2 people in the restaurant I had chosen from the list of 16 possibilities. The waiter enthusiastically described the lunch options, but did not mention Arroz P.N.C. When I held up the flier which described the event and asked the waiter about it, his face lit up and he said, "OH! You like chicken with blood???" We replied, "We'd like to try it!" and he happily bounced back to the kitchen.

A few minutes later a younger waiter proudly presented us with our vat of Arroz P.N.C. and ladled some onto each of our plates. I kept telling myself that the color of the sauce was due to tomato paste or something. It was very rich, had just a slight metallic taste, and the chicken pieces were HUGE! Eric had a drumstick that was almost twice the size of a normal one and I had a wing that was unbelievably large, more like a turkey wing! When we asked about it, our server explained that the chef is also a farmer and raises a lot of the restaurant's food himself. That was his gigantic chicken we were eating which made us appreciate even more!!

After our big meal we were pretty full, but the young waiter insisted on bringing us a special dessert that he wanted us to try. We soldiered on and enjoyed crunchy pastries filled with vanilla custard. They were very good and it was so kind of him to treat us to dessert!! 

After lunch, we strolled around the main square. The town was totally quiet when we hopped off the bus before lunch, but now it was bustling. There was a group of 4 accordion players of varying ages standing together and playing their hearts out and a nice crowd had gathered. A few women from the crowd started singing at the top of their lungs and people started dancing. We stood and watched the scene for quite a while. Eric referred to it as an "explosion of Portuguese cuteness"  and declared that Barcelos is now his favorite Portuguese town.


1 comment:

  1. Peggy neglected to mention how nicely a vinho verde branco (young white wine) goes with the P.N.C. The small bubbles and crispness were much appreciated in cutting through the richness of the chicken and its, uh, sauce.

    She also did not mention, and this might have been on purpose to shield our more squimish readers, that the chicken was cut in an interesting way. If you've bought a whole chicken before you know that it often comes with a small plastic bag containing some of the interesting bits - the heart, liver, etc. Well, this chicken was done differently. Where possible, it seems that these special pieces were left attached. So when the waiter dipped out my piece of chicken, a breast piece, one could hardly help noticing the attached heart. The good news is that it was quite tasty!