Portuguese foods and Portuguese wines for the longest time have been overlooked by foodies and wine aficionados.
Look no further than Fado, the tiny outpost of Portuguese cuisine that opened on New Street seven months ago. Each Friday and Saturday night patrons wait up to two hours for one of Fado’s 30 seats and opportunity to dine on such offerings from chef Raul Flores as caldo verdhe, bacalhu á bras, octopus salad, grilled sardines and pork and clams.
And on Jericho Turnpike, the Wine Shack recently promoted its newest arrivals, a group of bargain-priced wines from Portugal.
Indeed, on Monday, members of the wine trade and wine writers will descend on Lincoln Center to attend a tasting featuring 400 Portuguese wines.
Until Fado opened, adventurous diners seeking Portuguese food had to travel to Long Island’s Portuguese enclave, Mineola.
“People want to grab the authentic experience,” said Alison Nobre, who owns Fado with her husband, Eduardo. “So many customers have been to Portugal and want to connect with the dishes they had.”
And what are they ordering? Traditional dishes, such as bacalhu á bras -- shredded codfish blended with finely sliced potatoes, sweet onions, tossed with egg and parsley; other cod dishes, octopus, stuffed, fresh squid and paehla are among the most popular dishes.
The simple natural flavor of the food is its hallmark, she said, adding that the cooking technique relies on pan roasting and grilling.
Iconic ingredients of Portuguese cooking include fresh fish, just-picked vegetables, deeply smoked meats, bacon, beans, paprika, kale, onions, parsley, cilantro, piri-piri (hot little peppers), olives and olive oil, pork, potatoes, rice, salt, salt cod, tomato and turnip greens, according to David Leite, author of “The New Portuguese Table: Exciting Flavors from Europe's Western Coast” (Clarkson Potter 2009). Many of these, he wrote, were introduced during the 15th to 17th centuries by Portuguese explorers who returned from their voyages to Africa and South America with exotic spices, chile peppers and potatoes.
You can find a sampling of traditional Portuguese recipes at Leite’s web site, LeitesCulinaria.com, including Clams and Sausage, Chicken or Rabbit Hunter Style and Portuguese Gratin of Shrimp and Spinach.
Flores, Fado’s chef, who has 30 years in restaurant kitchens cooking all sorts of Mediterranean cuisines, relies in part on recipes from Eduardo Nobre’s mother, Elvira, who runs a restaurant in Portugal. “Portuguese cooking is different. Even the way they cut the onions,” he said.
Fado offers 20 Portuguese red wines and 20 whites, as well as 10 wines by the glass.
A complex red from the Douro (where Port is made), called Veedha (life in Portuguese), and Ciconia, a ripe red from Portugal’s Alentejo region, are among the top selling wines. They sell for $25 and $23, respectively. Fado’s most expensive wine, at $65 a bottle, is a hard-to-find red, Esporado AB Alicante Bouschet 2007.
Fado also offers 20 different ports, the fortified dessert wine that most people associate with Portugal, and three Madeiras, another fortified, sweet wine.
NEXT WEEK: A look at Portuguese wines
The first annual Spring Long Island Restaurant Week is scheduled to launch Sunday through April 10. The eight-day promotion features a special prix fixe dinner offered by all restaurant participants. All participating restaurants offer a three-course prix fixe for $24.95 all night, except Saturday when it will be offered only until 7 p.m. Each restaurant offers its own unique menu.
Participating restaurants in Huntington include: Bel Posto Ristorante Enoteca, Besito Mexican Kitchen and Agave Lounge, Bistro Cassis, Black and Blue Seafood Chophouse, Café Buenos Aires, The Clubhouse Restaurant, Fado, Jonathan’s Ristorante, HONU Kitchen & Cocktails, Mac’s Steakhouse, Porto Vivo and Vitae Restaurant and Wine Bar.
Tastings this weekend at the Wine Shack, Friday, 4-7 p.m. and Saturday, 2-5 p.m., will feature a malbec from Argentina, a carmenère from Chile and more.
Tastings this weekend at Bottles & Cases: Friday, 4-7 p.m. Ron Zacapa 23-year-old Rum; Sat., 1-4 p.m. Leblon Cachaca; Sun., 1-4 p.m., Bedell First Crush Red, Jordan Chardonnay, Pacific Rim Riesling, and Dr. Konstantin Frank Dry Riesling.