Thursday, February 27, 2014

Being Bored-dain: Vila Algarve, My Doorway to Portuguese Cuisine

It's been a while since I've done anything for my being bored-dain series. Bored-dain is a pun on Anthony Bourdain, a writer and eater I occasionally despise but envy as well. He gets to travel all over the world and eat. What a life! Well, I don't have the resources to travel but I do sit around and eat. A lot. Although I no longer live in Los Angeles, the melting pot of the world, Las Vegas has culinary adventures too.

My latest culinary discovery has been Portuguese food. Some background info on Portugal, the Portuguese Empire was the longest-lived of the modern European colonial empires, spanning almost 600 years. It is located on the Iberian Peninsula, and bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on the West and Spain on the West and North. (from wikipedia)

I have never tried, or even heard of Portuguese food. So when a new Portuguese restaurant opened up (the ONLY Portuguese restaurant in Las Vegas) the four of us decided to give it a try.

Haloumi Cheese Appetizer

We left all the ordering to Mike, as the rest of the party was befuddled about Portuguese food as I was. We started with several appetizers: the Chorizo, which beared little resemblance to its Mexican cousin, was served flaming tableside. It tasted a lot like kielbasa. Next, we had grilled Haloumi cheese (pictured above), Haloumi cheese is a cheese made from sheep's milk. It was very mild in flavor with a slight rubbery texture.

Snails in Thick Garlic Cream

My favorite appetizer of the meal was the Snails in Thick Garlic Cream. I love this dish. You can't go wrong with cream sauce, melted cheese and garlic. The snails added a meaty umami flavor to it. Of course, you can find this dish in French restaurants around town but Vila's Algarve's was decent, if not unique.

Chicken Trinchado

Our last appetizer was the Chicken Trinchado made with red wine, cream sauce, olives and served with toasted bread. It tasted a lot like a mild curry.



The main dish was the Bacalao (pronounced bak-a-lau). Bacalao means dried cod fish and is a staple of the Portuguese diet. There are many recipes and versions of it. This version had the bacalao mixed in with potatoes, onions and garlic and served with a salad. The owner gave us a short history on bacalao, it used to be poor people food and salting the cod was a way to preserve it. Now, it's a delicacy because of the amount of work needed to make the cod edible. The salted cod is soaked in fresh milk for a week and every day the milk has to be changed. The soaking makes the fish pliable and gets rid of the salt. The result is a very soft and mild tasting fish, which was served shredded. 

For dessert we had house-made tiramisu that was light and delicious. In conclusion, Vila Algarve was a culinary experience, worthy of being bored-dained. I don't know if I'd go back, but I'm glad that I got to get out of my comfort zone and try Portuguese food.  If Portugese doesn't excite you, the place has conventional pizza, burgers and pasta dishes too. And they're working on their liquor license and what looks to be a nightclub/dance floor. 

Vila Algarve on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

broken hipster said...

I REALLY wanted to like the food, since I used to live in Portugal and miss some of their food a lot. Finding a Portuguese restaurant (not a Brazilian steakhouse, like Rodizio)is truly a rarity, especially out West. Well, I was looking for the "frango de churrasco" commonly found in Lisboa, etc. but got "frango espetada" (chicken kabob--without the kabob) instead and it was pretty good. I'd give it a 7/10. If you're just casually looking for a meal, it may not be your first choice since it's a little pricy. But, if you have saudades de Portugal, be sure to stop in. Perhaps I'll try the Bacalhau (don't forget the H)a Bras and the Caldo Verde... both acquired tastes, but pretty good!!!

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