Every week, I document another dish that impressed and satiated me during my food adventures around New York City

I’ve been to Lisbon three times now. Really not sure how that happened. A few years ago, Portugal wasn’t even on my radar as a destination. Now it’s the place I’ve visited the most in Europe.

And I love it – it’s a beautiful city, with heartfelt people, and an amazing undiscovered culinary culture. Each time I visit, I drink lots of Vinho Verde, eat a ton of incredible seafood (I’ve visited the legendary Ramiro all three times), and consumed my weight in pastries. One thing I’ve never been able to do (but always wanted to) was explore the African and Indian cuisines available in Portugal.

Mozambique, Goa, and Angola are all former colonies of Portugal, so due to many immigrants in Lisbon, the food is pretty authentic (at least that’s what they tell me). All three of these cuisines are rather underepresented in New York so since I was here, I wanted to explore it.

Problem is on all three visits I had too many places on the agenda. And on this most recent trip, by the time I hiked up the Alfama to the Mozambican restaurant Cantinho de Aziz, they had closed the kitchen.

But accidentally, this time I got closer to Mozambican than ever before. We had scheduled a large dinner at Laurentina, a classic fancy-ish restaurant a bit outside the city center. The specialty of the house is the famous Portuguese bacalhau. The Portuguese supposedly have 365 recipes for dried codfish (one for every day of the year – they’re screwed on leap year!). And, it turns out, Laurentina had a few Mozambican touches on the menu.

We did get plenty classic Portuguese bacalhau (in fritter form and shredded up with potatoes, onions, and eggs). The food here was spectacular. If you’ve been to Portugal and think you don’t like their ubiquitous dried cod, you should find your way here.

But as you can imagine, I was most excited by the Mozambican shrimp dish we ordered. The shrimp were staring back at us, freshly cooked in a traditional Mozambican sauce thickened with casava and plam oil and then finished with coconut milk and tomatoes. It was a delicate but flavorful sauce. Also in the sauce was the expected cod fish that had a salty flavor and a chewy texture. It was a nice addition to this really surprising dish.

I still have not had a full Mozambican meal (or Goan or Angollan). So that just means I have to return to Lisbon some time soon. Perhaps the fourth time will finally be the charm.

RESTAURANT LAURENTINA, O REI DO BACALHAU
Avenida Conde Valbom 71A, 1050-060
Avenidas Novas,
Lisbon, Portugal
+351 217 939 142
restaurantelaurentina.com
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About the Author

Brian Hoffman is a classically trained actor who is now a full-time tour guide, blogger, and food obsessive. He leads food and drink tours around New York City, which not only introduce tour-goers to delicious food, but gives them a historical context. He also writes food articles for Gothamist and Midtown Lunch in addition to overseeing this blog and a few food video series, including Eat This, Locals Know, and Around the World in One City.

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