For My Valentine, posted by Lori in Restaurants, The Best... Lists
12 7 Foods To Fall In Love With: One sexy, spatchcocked chicken (1st of 12 7 parts)
To spatchcock means “to butterfly” – in this case, a chicken – splitting it down the center whilst taking care not to cut through it completely. Yeah, I could just say “butterfly the darn thing” but I like spatchcock because it’s more interesting and infinitely naughtier sounding.
Note: I aim to finish off this list by Friday, Feb 12, 2010 because I also intend to celebrate Valentine’s Day with my Valentine. (Yes, I’m a huge proponent of Feb 14). So, 12 posts / 5 days = 2.4 posts/day. Okay, so I was out of my mind when I attempted to do 12 posts in 5 days. (whacking forehead) I’ve whittled it down to 7 posts in 5 days. The rest will follow next week.
The chicken you see above is from O’sonho (pronounced: aw-SAWN-yo), a Portuguese restaurant whose name means “the dream.” The bird is called the Whole Roast Peri Peri Chicken (P720) and it won’t be rushed. It takes a good 45 minutes (it says so on the menu and I timed it) to cook, but wow, what an arrival it makes!
Coming to table awash in an exhilarating perfume, the first thing I notice is the bird’s sultry position. “It’s so sexy it’s almost obscene,” I remark suggestively. N agrees.
Peri-peri (also piri-piri) are African bird’s-eye chilies, a cousin to the Philippines’ siling labuyo. In Portugal, the word “piri-piri” is a catch-all for hot peppers, a table staple there since the 15th century. Two of the most famous dishes that use peri-peri are frango com piri-piri and camaroes com piri-piri, peri-peri chicken and shrimp, respectively, grilled dishes that rely on little more than peri-peri sauce and few other aromatics. Peri-peri sauce is a rather new discovery for me: a sauce made from roasted red chilies (O’sonho uses bell peppers) that are then simmered with (among other things) garlic, salt, paprika, olive oil, vinegar, and thyme. When cooled, the mixture is then blitzed in a food processor and stored in a jar. It’s ravishingly red, torrid in heat, and more addicting than should be legal.
O’sonho’s peri-peri sauce is rather tame, but don’t believe me since I’m the one with the asbestos tongue and hands. The sauce is dotted though with lots of bell pepper seeds and a light olive oil, the combination of which dribbles down my lips and onto my chin – there’s no long-lasting lipstick on the planet that can withstand this. The chicken itself has been marinated in bunches of thyme and grilled practically perfectly, juicy with hardly any signs of blood; even the breast meat is moist. N and I ladle too-generous spoonfuls of the peri-peri sauce onto each forkful of chicken; in total, we ask the waiter for three refills of it. So given in to my exPERIence with peri-peri, I ditch my utensils and use my fingers to eat. N rolls his head back and laughs uproariously. Then does the same.
N and I also thoroughly enjoy the seafood paella (Paella De Frutos Do Mar; P460) that we order to go with the chicken. Though pitifully deprived of attention over the chicken, it’s a satisfying mix of rice and seafood cooked in turmeric and cumin. And oh yeah, the sangria (for me) and the mojito (for N) are good examples of the bar’s capabilities. Check out their iced tea served in a fishbowl.
O’sonho Portuguese Fusion Restobar
Unit 1 C Valdeleon Bldg., 20 Jupiter St.