By Lory Diaz
Torontonicity was invited to attend a dinner on September 28, 2017 at Lisbon by Night restaurant, located at 802 Dundas St W. The event was hosted by the newly-founded Table to Share program, intent on bringing authentic multicultural culinary experiences to guests. Experiences include Portuguese, Filipino, and Brazilian, and they are looking to expand into Peruvian shortly!
The intimate dinner of under a dozen guests was led by Table to Share owner, Carla Ramos. She has partnered with local businesses and restaurants in Toronto, such as Lisbon by Night and Casa Manila that focus on the traditional dishes of specific cultures. Carla works closely with chefs and owners, ensuring that the curated experience has the flavours and smells reminiscent of delicious home cooking.
We started our dinner with the clean flavours of a traditional Vinho Verde wine from Portugal – If you’re not familiar with this wine please read about my tasting experience at Archive Wine bar here! We enjoyed this crisp white with a flame cooked chorizo, shrimp fritters, and cod cakes. The wine cut through the saltier flavours of the three appetizers, allowing for a cleansed palette and fresh start with each bite. The shrimp fritters were my favourite, as they had a creaminess to them that was contrasted by the fresher taste of parsley. Delicious!
Cod cakes and shrimp fritters came accompanied with black olives marinated in fresh garlic. Strong flavours that paired perfectly with the fried appetizers!
We were then given a cabbage- and potato-based soup that is very common in Portuguese household cooking: cabbage and potato soup with ham for flavouring. The soup is deceivingly creamy, but no creams or dairy products are used to make it. It has a lovely smokiness from the ham, and makes a perfect dish for the cooler season up ahead.
Our main courses comprised of three dishes: a seafood rice, cod braz, and marinated pork. The cod braz is shredded cod with thinly sliced onion and potato, perfect for any fish lover who may not be fond of shellfish. The marinated pork was served with mussels, which isn’t typical for many cuisines found in Toronto. This combination made for a hearty dish that would leave even the pickiest of eaters satiated!
My personal favourite of the mains was the seafood rice, as it came with shrimp, lobster, mussels, and squid rings. A fantastic tomato-based sauce ensured that the protein wasn’t dry, but instead quite vibrant. I went back for seconds on this one.
Before dessert was served, we were given a class of a 2013 Moscatel de Setubal. This is known in North America as a fortified wine, and was a great way to prepare our taste buds for the sweetness of the flan, chocolate mousse, and custard tarts that we were served to end our meal.
The chocolate mousse was light and enjoyable, but the flan and tarts were a hit with the whole group! I would highly recommend trying the caramel flan if you’re looking for a lighter way to end your meal, though you may end up eating more of it than you had anticipated.
Carla’s background is in finance, but her passion for food becomes incredibly obvious upon hearing her describe cooking techniques for every dish served. She provides historically-significant details that explain where the use of certain spices come from, and the effect that colonization had on the cuisine for the region. The Table to Share dinners are truly engaging and allowing for thought-provoking conversation. If you’re looking for a guided food tour through the comforting flavours of traditional Portuguese cuisine, please make sure to contact Carla and book your own dinner. Enjoy!