Portuguese Food and Wine at Ferreira in Montreal

One of North America’s best Portuguese restaurants, Ferreira, can be found on Peel Street in Montreal where chef Marino Tavares crafts original and beautifully served dishes. On our visit last Saturday sommelier Paulo Ferreira generously helped us pair wine made by some of Portugal’s most famous winemakers with this exquisite cuisine. It was a fitting end to a long day at McGill University’s new student reception. And it brought back many memories of our travels in Portugal for Report # 24 The New Wines of Portugal.
We started off with a sparkling Aliança 2007 Vintage Bruto, a clean crisp sparkler made from a blend of Chardonnay and Baga grapes. Baga, of course, is the grape of the Dao that can make delicious Burgundy like reds. This sparkler is dry showing light apple and citrus flavors, a perfect appetite teaser.

Our first dish was a beautifully presented, delicious Grilled Calamari, which we paired with a Muros de Melgaço 2010 Alvarinhofrom the Minho region near the Spanish border. This wine is made by Anselmo  Mendes, one of the best, if not the best, winemaker in the Minho. This wine was dry, revealing minerals and light citrus with restrained aromas, a great match to the calamari.

Next, we had a second appetizer of Sesame Crusted Seared Tuna served over rice noodles, a very successful combination of velvet like, rare tuna with slightly sweet and spicy noodles and finely diced Asian vegetables. This, of course, called for a wine with enough substance to stand up to but not overpower the delicate tuna. The Paulo Laureano 2007 Reservefrom Alentejo filled the bill. This inky opaque purple blend of Trincadeira, Aragones, and Alicante Bouschet managed to be both elegant and spicy, a perfect foil to the tuna. Cracked pepper and dark fruit showed on a dry, nicely balanced medium weight palate. Drinking the wine brought back memories of our tasting with Paulo at his winery in the Alentejo.

For the main course, we chose Ferreira’s signature dish, the Porcini Crusted Black Cod served on a bed of pureed potatoes in a Port wine reduction. For this exquisite dish, Paulo selected a special bottling made for the restaurant by one of the Douro’s best small wineries, Wine and Soul.  And it’s made by one of our favorite winemakers, Sandra Tavares, in collaboration with Carlos Ferreira, owner of the Ferreira restaurant. The wine, called the 2008 F Reserveis a blend of Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca from the Vale de Mendiz region. The wine was delicious–elegant with the essence of rich, dark red plum and spicy herbs–and complemented the richness of the dish.

Thanks to Paulo for the expert advice, to chef Marino for the superb food, and to McGill for the opportunity to visit such a beautiful city.

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