At the essence of Pinot Grigio delle Venezie DOC is a celebration of the travelling, cosmopolitan spirit that links oenological tradition and the pleasure of sharing food & wine. This same passion is at the core of the soul of the Portuguese people and life, much of which revolves around the pleasures of the table and of the many ingredients that, through centuries of travels and discoveries, now form the country’s flavour repertoire. These offer endless and ideal pairing possibilities for the distinct freshness and character of the wines of the Pinot Grigio delle Venezie DOC.
In love with Portuguese craftsmanship – and flavours
A Portuguese Love Affair (PLA) started as a concept store and delicatessen in London’s trendy Columbia Road. The street is lined by beautiful design shops and truly comes to life on Sundays, when London descends upon it for its iconic flower market. It was as part of this stylish hub that the shop established itself as a key agent of the movement that propelled Portuguese design and cuisine to the top of London’s dining scene, alongside starchefs such as Leo Carreira (who has led exciting pop-ups at PLA) and Nuno Mendes.
The success led founders Olga Cruchino and Dina Martins to open a second site, a cafe , wine bar and restaurant, a stone’s throw away from the original site on Hackney Road, which has since become the regular hang out spot for post or pre-shopping catch ups.
It was here that we met the two talented entrepreneurs (Dina is also the venue’s gifted chef), to discover how their creations can so ideally be served alongside a glass of Pinot Grigio.
From sea and land
The perfect start is a spread of ‘petiscos’ (tapas-like small dishes); much like the Venetian cicchettis, these beg for a refreshing and mineral glass of wine. Portugal’s Vinho Verde has a perfect Italian counterpart in a classic Pinot Grigio delle Venezie DOC, balancing the brine intensity of olives, lupins, seafood patés, cured goat cheeses and the Portugal’s flagship canned seafood.
The produce of the sea is indeed one of the core pillars of Portuguese gastronomy.
It’s many iterations – cured, canned, straight from the boat and grilled – cannot be properly enjoyed without a glass of… Pinot Grigio? Why not?
Dina’s superior ‘caldeirada’, a personal, sublime take on the traditional seafood stew, proved even more perfect washed down by a glass of Italy’s most famous white wine, its gentle aromatics and mineral freshness underscoring the dishes’ spices and herbs.
However, Portuguese cuisine is – very much like Pinot Grigio delle Venezie DOC – a meeting of land and sea. Inland, the country’s recipes gain intensity and weight, with pork meat and legumes claiming centre stage. Dina has a sophisticated interpretation of ‘secretos de porco preto with migas’, a particular cut of acorn-fed pork ribs with a bread-based purée laden with flavour thanks to garlic, various spices, olive oil, herbs and, if in season, wild asparagus. A beautiful and flavourful dish, it is traditionally served alongside a glass of red. It might be a misconception to think that the meat and spices need hefty tannins – the gentler tannic grip of a Ramato, alongside the subtle zestiness of pink citrus, cuts more effectively through the meat fat and brings the spices to live.
And what of Portugal’s most famous pastry, pastéis de nata, now an absolute favourite among Londoners?? It would be a sin not to try those sold and baked inhouse by Olga, which have won numerous awards and a quasi cult following. Although a thing of perfection in themselves, especially if topped by a generous layer of cinnamon as is the tradition, we dared to try them with a glass of Pinot Grigio delle Venezie DOC Ramato.
A people with an unusual passion for food and wine, only matched by a relentless desire to always explore far and beyond. A knack for intense flavours paired with understated, elegant design. An ethos that might well have found a perfect companion in the cosmopolitan sophistication of Pinot Grigio delle Venezie DOC.