Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Portuguese again

Eastside Road, March 13, 2013—
IT'S A CUISINE I know virtually nothing about, the Portuguese cuisine, though I'll know a little more next month. As a sort of warm-up, we thought we'd join friends in Healdsburg's newish Café Lucia tonight.

We've been here before, last December, with another couple, a couple who do know the cuisine, and they found it authentic, and enjoyable. Tonight I'm not quite so sold on it, but it was pleasant enough.

We warmed up with a plate of very nice Monterey Bay sardines, with a warm onion marmalade. Lindsey went on to one of her favorites, salt cod and potatoes — bacalhau no forno here, with onions and olives and a sea of olive oil; and perhaps I should have joined her.

Instead I asked for the pork tenderloin recheado, attracted by the complexity of the dish — it involves a stuffing of olives, figs, and almonds, and a port wine demiglace. I liked the dish, but wasn't in the mood for it, for whatever reason. A dish like this wants to be eaten on a cold night, or else slowly and in comfort: and this restaurant was a little loud, which made me feel a little rushed.

Still, a nice dish, with its mashed-potato-and-cheese croquettes. For dessert, a trio of cinnamon-vanilla crème brûlée, caramel-chocolate ice cream, and caramelized apples in a pecan gaufrette — again, very nice. We'll be back, on a slower night I hope.

Quinta Nova, Pomares (Douro), light and refreshing; vinho tinto, Quinta de Crasto (Douro), rather deep and very pleasant
Café Lucia, 235 Healdsburg Street, Healdsburg, California; 707-431-1113

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