I’m not exactly sure how the name Porto came about but I think there are 2 highly likely possibilities. Firstly, being a coastal town, it might have gotten its name due to its function as a port. In the past, the Portuguese (like the Dutch and Spanish) have also been engaged in lots of sea trade and establishing Portuguese colonies in countries like the Philippines. And in Singapore, we see the descendents of these seafarers with surnames such as De Cruz, De Souza and Pereira.
On the other hand, Porto could have been named as such due to its heavy reliance on the wine and port industry in sustaining its economy. Ok so this leads us to the question of what’s the difference between Port and Wine? For 1, true Port wine is exclusively produced in the region of Douro, Portugal and is a sweet fortified wine, with higher alcohol content than the standard red wine. While we might sometimes spot Madeira (another fortified wine) on the wine list, it is NOT exactly the same as Port as it is only produced on the island of Madeira, Portugal.
Well, I found out there’s much to learn about Port appreciation and its seemingly never-ending list of classifications (red, white, tawny, vintage, ruby, and just when you thought you knew them all, they suddenly mess you up with a “single-vintage tawny” etc). Hopefully I can cover it another day, maybe in a easy to read tabular form or the like but for now, I guess it’s suffice to know that Port is simply a sweet dessert wine.
Instead of planning a food itinerary beforehand as I did for London and Spain, I decided to be lazy and just go with the flow for this one, relying on hotel reception’s recommendations instead. This is what brought me and my family to Cafeina. A quick check with tripadvisor and goporto.com confirmed that it was a place worth visiting and so off we went.
Like the Spanish, the Portuguese have their meals pretty late too, with dinners starting typically between 8pm – 9pm. So we were one of the first customers for the night.
Cafeina is a fine-dining establishment with an extensive wine menu which can be assessed using an application on the Ipad provided and it’s really the longest wine list I have ever seen, my estimate is probably at least 400 wines, probably more.
The seafood in Porto is really fresh. I was at the beach near Cafeina and it was low tide. And there were these 3 China ladies picking shellfish at the seashore. And I jest you not, abalone is in ample abundance here and it seems that Caucasians don’t eat it. What a waste! So these 3 ladies managed to fill up 1 large bag with abalones (probably around 7kg worth), 3 or 4 other bags of other clams and shellfish and seaweed within a couple of hours. Along the water’s edge, I could even spot shrimps with my naked eyes that’s how clean the water is. So it goes without saying that the scallops served here would definitely be fresh too!
I didn’t get to try the Seafood Bisque in Puff Pastry because my dad dug into it already and was having a sore throat and didn’t want passing his germs to me. Looks good though
I had the Foie Gras Terrine wrapped with Smoked Duck atop some Caramelized Apples. Nothing too impressive about this dish which I felt was too salty with the superfluous duck.
My dad felt his main was a little too tough. I thought it was so so.
My brother felt his pasta tasted much like Mee Kia. We did enjoy his Tiger Prawns though which were large, fresh and crunchy.
My favourite main of the night was the Squid Ink Pasta with Squid and Prawns. Tossed in a light tomato base, the spaghetti was slightly overcooked and soft for my liking but the fresh squids and prawns saved the day.
A run of the mill Pear Tartine.
Highly raved about by the hotel receptionist, we couldn’t leave without trying the Buttery Chocolate Cake. Likely to please those with a major sweet tooth but personally it was much too cloying for me.
Cafeina exhibits some class but fails to deliver the ko blow that would make me want to take a 12 hour flight just for a revisit.
Rua do Padrão 100, 4150 Oporto, Portugal
Tel: 226 108 059