Today we had the good fortune to spend the afternoon with our hosts, the owners of the Furnas Lake Forest Living, along with some of their family and friends.
The light-hearted event was met with the usual unpredictable Azorean spring weather, yet spirits were high as sun shades were strung in the garden and the kitchen hummed with activity while tables were adorned with flowers from the garden.
Let the libações flow!
As guests began to arrive the sun shone bright and the mood was lively. Children visited the two newborn goats and played in the gardens while adults mingled on the lawn with glasses of Portuguese sangria in hand.
Before too long the clouds reappeared, along with a light rain and mild winds, nudging everyone to the indoor/outdoor dining area of the resort’s restaurant. Conversations were lively as the sangria and wine continued to flow, while several guests took up the gracious offer of a cozy blanket to fend off the chilly air. The scene looked like a photo shoot straight out of a Portuguese lifestyle magazine.
With tables set and everyone comfortably settled, plates of food slowly began to appear. There were small bowls of ceviche, beet hummus and marinated cabbage with chickpeas. Mackerel sashimi mixed with finely sliced onions arranged on wood boards was a big hit as were the small, breaded and fried chorizo balls so delicious they should have arrived by the dozen! Fresh crudités and handcrafted breadsticks were accompanied by fantastic handmade dips. It was a feast for the eyes as well as the pallet.
One small bowl caught my attention because it looked different enough that I could not determine what it was. So in I went…several times…yet I still could not understand what I was eating. It seemed like some sort of cured bacon yet it was chewier and lacked the saltiness and texture of any bacon I have ever tried.
As we finished the fantastic spread of tapas a second wave of food began to arrive and we thought “oh..they’re not done eating”. Welcome to an Azorean picnic!
More wine please.
Another wood board appeared, this time with a grilled leg of chicken along with the tastiest, most succulent slices of steak and pork. No knife required. Just when we thought we were full suddenly we had room for more. It was that good.
As thoughts of a longer-than-usual siesta began to creep in dessert arrived. A thin crepe folded over the most delicious strawberry ice cream was adorned with slices of kiwi, strawberries, roasted nuts and bright orange nasturtium, then artfully drizzled with dark chocolate. The word sumptuous immediately came to mind.
As the friendly and attentive catering staff began to clear off the tables one waiter asked…”can I get you anything else?”
“Yes”…I replied…”my bed!”
Our siesta would have to wait as many of the guests migrated inside for coffee and more conversation.
Toward the end of the afternoon, as the guests were slowly saying their goodbyes, I asked Helena what that little bowl contained. With a sly smile she said…”I noticed you looking at that bowl..it was pig’s ear”.
“Oh really…is that what it was…pigs ear?”
Anthony Bourdain would be proud!