Though the cutting won’t finish until end of day today, one of the winery team, António, has to return to Lisbon and real life as a policeman tomorrow, so we decided to go ahead with the end of harvest dinner last night, while he could still be with us.
The dinner featured leitão, or roast suckling pig. We actually had three of the little darlings, which are brought home fully roasted from the butcher’s in Lamego, then cut up and re-heated at home.
All the kitchen ladies came around to Arlindo’s house and pitched in to help in Dona Fatima’s big kitchen. As in many older Portuguese houses, the kitchen has an immense open walk-in fireplace in one corner, and a bread oven built into the wall above the main hearth. This was put to very good use last night, making all the potatoes, rice and a roast chicken to serve alongside the leitão.
Two immense roasting tins were filled with a layer of sliced onions and then peeled potatoes which had been bathed in a gravy, and extra olive oil for good measure. In another big dish rice was mixed with olive oil, then covered with hot chicken broth.
Dona Rosalina got a good fire going in the bread oven, as you can see from the flames licking out, and once there was a thick layer of ash and glowing embers, she removed the remaining large pieces of wood and raked out the coals to a smooth layer in the bottom of the oven. In went the two big tins of potatoes and the rice dish, but then she laid a grill on top of the rice and on top of that put the whole chicken which had been partially cooked whilst making the broth for the rice. This way the chicken got fully roasted and the drippings went in to flavour the rice. Once everything was in the oven, she sealed the door with a layer of flour and water paste.
We started with beer and presunto, the smoke-cured prosciutto-like ham of Portugal, but very quickly moved on to the main course. The Symingtons kindly sent in a case of each Altano Branco and Tinto, but Joaquim, the winery manager from Tua, brought a couple demijohns of a wine which his father makes from their own little vineyard, which was also really good (but don’t expect any returns of unopened bottles, Paul).
For sobremesa we had a custard cake soaked in syrup, with a deeply appreciated bottle of Graham’s The Tawny, and a wonderful jellyroll cake which Dona Fatima made herself. Joaquim’s father also makes an excellent ruby port, by the way.
Near end of table photo: Joaquim from Tua with his back to camera, Carlos our oenological student, Carlos one of the Malvedos tractoristas, Alexandre the other tractorista is hidden from view, unfortunately, Joaquim, Pedro and Juca all from Malvedos winery team.
Far end of table photo: Pedro, Juca, Fonseca and Henry, and Dona Fatima in action serving up dinner, and with their backs to us, Nuno who is tractorista at Tua, Alexandre and António from Malvedos winery team.
If you wonder why there are no mid or post dinner photos, it’s because we know our bosses read this blog too. Don’t worry, there was no fortification due last night, so your wines are safe, and we’ll get the usual post up some time soon.