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Culinary chops

LISBON

Three new openings are enlivening the Lisbon restaurant scene. Queimado, in the city’s central Bairro Alto, is the kind of place where you might pop in for a quick midweek dinner and end up drinking the bar dry with the staff until the wee hours. Headed up by UK chef Shay Ola, the smallish berth is a colourful space in tones of teal, rose and orange, with a line of low tables facing an open kitchen. Buttery homemade cornbread with chicken-liver pâté is an excellent mix of sweet and savoury. Try one of the cocktails to ease the spice of the Szechuan-style pork cheeks and the barbecued mushroom (with three chillies).

Meanwhile, chef Nuno Mendes (of Chiltern Firehouse in London) has a first Portuguese venue, which opened in October in the refurbished Bairro Alto Hotel. At the fifth-floor Bahr restaurant, Mendes uses Portuguese ingredients such as wild turbot, red mullet, clams and barnacles to create plates that are subtle but pleasingly unfussy. The space is open all day; visit in the late afternoon as the sun eases its way to the horizon and take a table on the terrace with its wide views over the Tagus and the city’s red iron bridge. Or try the hotel’s new in-house pâtisserie (also headed by Mendes) offering savoury doughnuts in sweet potato and curried-prawn iterations (though actually nice despite it).

Further west in Alcântara, Spanish chef Eneko Axta has opened Basque in a converted warehouse formerly known as the Alcântara Café, which was at the centre of Lisbon’s nightlife in its 1980s heyday but had fallen into disuse. Axta recreates the decadent industrial feel of the space with high ceilings, tall mirrors, café-style tables and red velvet drapes. There’s also an in-house DJ complementing a sophisticated but unpretentious menu. Highlights include the melt-in-the-mouth rack of lamb and fresh squid that comes in a light tempura.
queimadolisboa.com; bairroaltohotel.com/en; alcantaracafe.com


Decimo

LONDON

Take the bright-red lift to the 10th floor of The Standard hotel in Kings Cross and you’ll enter chef Peter Sanchez-Iglesias’s debut London restaurant, Decimo. Cacti, sunken booths, macramé curtains and rattan ceiling tiles by designer Shawn Hausman create a Latin-American vibe. “The design lent itself to Mexican and Spanish influences,” says Sanchez-Iglesias, who received Michelin stars for his Bristol-based Paco Tapas and Casamia. “The idea was to create an atmosphere where people can get away from hectic London life.”

His fusion food comes to fruition in dishes such as octopus à la Gallega with lime juice and pimiento, and baja tacos with fried fish from the UK. “You have South American spirit with Spanish roots and UK ingredients,” says the chef. Decimo stays open for late-night drinks (and dancing) and, come the spring, will also be serving lunch.
decimo.london


Cowhorn

OREGON 

California might be the titan when it comes to punchy pinots and zesty zinfandels but more people than ever are looking north to Oregon, which continues to produce some of the US’s most interesting bottles.

One of the state’s best spots is Cowhorn Vineyard & Gardens in the stunning oak-rich Applegate Valley. Owners Bill and Barbara Steele run the biodynamic vineyard, which is known for its Rhône-style wines. They also grow asparagus, lavender, truffles and artichokes. The timber-clad eco-friendly tasting room is not a bad place to relax as you quaff that 2017 reserve viognier.
cowhornwine.com


Yoko

BRISBANE

Japanese bar Yoko at Brisbane’s riverside Howard Smith Wharves is the latest outing from the man who brought us Sydney favourites The Apollo and Cho Cho San. For the past six months, Jonathan Barthelmess and his team have been perfecting their katsu – think tender pork hugged by panko crumbs (flown in from Japan) – and building a menu and venue to suit the subtropical Brisbane climes. yokodining.com.au


King Somm

PERTH

Architect Simone Robeson and her stockbroker husband Matt Hayes took a punt and bought a 1901-built billiards hall in the Perth neighbourhood of Bayswater back in 2017. After bringing her brother Dion and his wife Alana on board, the quartet opened wine bar and pizza joint King Somm in early 2019. “Our whole ethos is [around] wine that sommeliers drink at home,” says Simone who, as a hospitality newcomer, has managed to turn a neighbourhood tavern into a city staple in just a few months. “Our wine doesn’t have to be expensive but it does have to be delicious.” King Somm also serves eight craft beers and small batch spirits to suit all tastes.
kingsomm.com.au


Recipe

Pork gyoza

Serves 3-4 as a main (makes approximately 40 gyoza dumplings)
Ingredients
300g Chinese cabbage
½ tsp sea salt
300g minced pork
4 fresh shiitake mushrooms
3 spring onions, finely chopped
20g ginger, finely grated
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1½ tbsps soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp Chinese Shaoxing rice wine or saké
40 round, thin white gyoza skins
Sunflower oil for frying
8 tsps plain flour
v2_e_food-briefing_tag.jpg

For dipping sauce
4 tbsps soy sauce
4 tbsps rice vinegar or Chinese black vinegar
1/2 tsp chilli oil

The method:
1.
If you are using frozen gyoza skins, defrost for 30 minutes.

2.
Finely chop the Chinese cabbage. Add the salt, mix and leave to stand for 10 minutes.

3.
Mix the minced pork, spring onions, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil and saké.

4.
After 10 minutes, squeeze any excess water out from the Chinese cabbage using your hands and add to the pork mixture. Combine well.

5.
To make the dumplings, make sure that you have plenty of space to work; this is very fun to make with a group of people. Fill a small bowl with water. Lay all the gyoza skins on the work surface and put ½ tbsp of the filling onto each skin.

6.
Wet the top half of the dumpling skin and fold in half to seal it. Then make 3-5 pleats. Lay the dumplings on a tray that has been dusted with a little flour to prevent them from sticking.

7.
You can freeze the dumplings at this stage by first freezing them on a tray covered with clingfilm. Once they are completely frozen, transfer them into a plastic food bag.

8.
To cook the dumplings, pour 1 tsp oil into a medium-sized frying pan and arrange 10 dumplings upright in the pan. Cook over medium-high heat, approximately for 1 minute, until you hear sizzling.

9.
Mix together 125 ml water and 2 tsps flour. Pour this mixture into the pan, cover with a lid and cook for 8 minutes.

10.
Take off the lid and turn up the heat until the water evaporates and the dumplings’ bottoms turn crispy. Turn off the heat and cover the pan with a plate. Flip the pan upside down and carefully remove it from the plate.

11.
Mix soy sauce, vinegar and chilli oil to serve as a dipping sauce.

12.
Serve while piping hot.

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