Note: this project is presently taking a break, if you want to taste Vítor Claro's food, and you should, you can now visit him at his own restaurant Claro!, housed in Hotel Sol Palmeiras at Paço de Arcos, right in front of the ocean.
Green Caterpillar supper club May 2011
I know Vítor Claro from his passage through Herdade da Malhadinha, a charm Hotel in Alentejo (Albernoa) and his catering at some special Niepoort events, I am I fan ever since. Unfortunately I did not get a chance to know his personal joint at Bairro Alto, and still owe him a visit at Hotel Albatroz. What got me was his absolute passion for his cooking and the genuine will to show his work, every time I went to Malhadinha, our meals were banquets, we felt like kings being served all kinds of dishes available.
The concept is simple and cool, the lovely host Iris offers her house to people interested in tasting Vítor's food at a relaxed friendly dinner limited to a party of 10 and Vítor cooks a tasting menu providing a different experience every time you "visit". Each guest will contribute with €35 to help with the shopping.
This is a Supper Club, a concept that has been thriving for some time at the main European cities, mainly London and across the Ocean, New York heads the movement. Maybe there are others in Lisbon, but I doubt there is so much creativity involved. I welcome this project as a needed, and most appreciated, oxygen bubble.
From our first experience, that will be followed by more as soon as chance allows it, we bring nothing but compliments. For starters we were received by some freshly made cocktails, that help trespass the initial discomfort and let the socializing begin! And this is one of the main advantages of a well organized supper club, meeting new people.
The menu is simple, no megalomaniac journeys came in play, but the simplicity is not shallow it is instead a logical approach to our fantastic Portuguese products aimed precisely at delivering pleasure. Its all about cooking to perfection or leave it alone. All dishes were fresh and excited your palate with vibrant contrasting flavours. It is all so comforting, one can't help wanting more. For example the brioche filled with "Farinheira" (a Portuguese smoked sausage) is one of those platters that is bound to vanish in seconds as soon as it arrives at the table, and how about the mini lemony guacamole tacos...why not have one more? Best things in life are the simple things!
The creativity shown by spiking up some classics, makes us dream about other possible Vitor's reinventions, maybe challenge him to serve us some "Feijoada" or "Cozido à Portuguesa", that I would love to see.
Vítor, with precious help from his friends, has created a perfect project to showcase his skills
Other than the food, it is the personal enrichment I have to put forward, you arrive at a venue knowing nobody, but you leave with a sense of starting new friendships. This is easy as people are gathered around similar interests being the most obvious good food. Wine plays its part also, as Vítor is a dedicated wine lover so one can expect a nice selection, but, thankfully, far from obvious. For instance the steak au poivre was served with Niepoort vintage port from 2007, a match that I had not experienced before, that made perfect sense, its tannin for protein and sweetness and spice for the seasoning, a case of positive symbiosis. Speaking of the steak I have to mention the crispy Gnocchi, completely addictive.
You are also welcome to bring a bottle of wine and cork most certainly won't be charged. This is a big advantage compared to the majority of Lisbon's restaurants, and it could be the perfect opportunity to open that special bottle.
Food, wine, friends...what more can be asked? This is a perfect bonding project!