Adventures in Eating & Cooking
About 4 weeks ago, the snow finally began to melt into grey slush, the most telltale sign of spring in any city. This was the Sunday that the Brunch Club (open to anyone whose favorite meal is brunch) called its first unofficial meeting!~ (Because hey, who needs officialization to eat delicious fewd?)
Yes, we finally dragged our lazy butts out from snow-bernation, stopped the procrastination, and started the mastication of delicious dishes at Porto – a cute, rustic Portuguese cafe by Passyunk Square.
Ms. Water Jar, meet Mr. Bottomless Coffee Cup. I don’t know if this is a common practice or if I’m a huge weirdo, but I always need to take water with my coffee. Of course, mixing the two would be coffee-blasphemy, but drinking coffee by itself always dries me out. I think the diuretic effect (makes you pee) of caffeine can leave one pretty dehydrated, which is not conducive for enjoying savory brunch food. So I always get water no matter what. Besides, who can resist water that comes in a beautiful aqua jar?
Ms. Bollywood got the Virgin Mary Falafel Tacos, a palatable palette of a dish. The crisp purple cabbage and cucumbers left a fresh taste in the mouth. But honestly, we agreed that these are pretty average falafels disguised by a beguiling name. The one truly memorable part about this dish was the tomatillo salsa (green stuff in the plastic cup). Tomatillos taste as they sound – tarter, spicier, and sexier than your average old tomato. This special salsa really helped the falafels pop!
Ms. Fewdie OD got the Chicken and Waffles, also lightly soaked in Porto’s signature tomatillo salsa. The tart, spicy salsa complemented the savory, crisp fried chicken. Waffles were fluffy and yummy, pretty standard. Put this all together, and you get the classic southern brunch dish with a tomatillo twist!
The munchimonster (that’s me!) decided on the Portuguese Black Dawg, mostly because the name sounded so epic. I’m not exactly sure why it’s called ” black dawg” because the dish is neither black nor made of dog meat (thank goodness). Rather, they are bacalhau, or salted cod cakes. Bacalhau is an ancient, traditional Portuguese dish, made from dried and salted cod as a means of food preservation (before the time of refrigerators). Interestingly, cod is one of the few sea creatures that is traditionally preserved instead of cooked in Portugal. Porto’s brunch spin topped the bacalhau with poached eggs and a cilantro mint yogurt sauce. This was served with a side of roasted potato olive hash (classic bacalhau side dish) and linguica sausage.
The Black Dawg is definitely a creative way to brunchify a classic Portuguese dish (although I think you can really brunchify anything by adding a poached egg). I think the bacalhau are quiet salty, literally tasting like the sea, so the eggs and creamy yogurt help balance it out. That being said, they were still extremely salty… and I’m not sure if this is the original “authentic” Portuguese flavor and I’m not accustomed to it, or if it’s just too salty. I’ll have to taste-test some bacalhau and get back to you on that!
Finally, we split a Banana S’mores Stuffed French Toast + Berries (Extras)!!! When we put in the order, the waitress paused and stared at us, “Wait, you mean to go…?” When we said we wanted it for here, she shot us a look of disbelief. Yes, we are three girls on the smaller side… but trust us, we’re professionals~
This French Toast was the highlight of our brunch! I know I have the bias of being a sweet tooth, but I think the beauty of this dessert is that it wasn’t too sweet. The toast was super-soft and fluffy with little bits of mushy banana and gushy ‘mallowy cream cheese inside. Usually a good rule of thumb is: the smaller the pieces, the more delicious the dish. This is because tinier bits means greater surface area-to-volume ratio, and more even dispersion of flavor throughout. (Or at least, that’s how I make sense of it, with my left-brained mind). In translation, bits of cream cheese goodness melting into the fluffy bread = yay! The maple pecan syrup also delivered the right amount of sweetness, but I would have liked taste some more maple and pecan coming through. The berries added a pleasant, aesthetic (and delicious) touch. Dessert French Toast win!!