One of the perks of being press is being invited to super fun events like this one: Adega out in San Jose was just awarded a Michelin star — the first in San Jose! — and is one of only two Portuguese restaurants in the United States to boast any Michelin stars, and their chefs (soon-to-be husband & wife team, David Costa & Jessica Carreira) came to NYC to cook for us at Aldea — the other Michelin-starred Portuguese restaurant in the US. Phew, that was a mouthful — did that make sense? The chefs from Adega in San Jose cooked at Aldea in NYC. And I was invited to be a part of it.
After a wine tasting hour, we were ushered upstairs to be seated for a 5 course meal. A few seating mishaps later, everyone was happily chatting away and mingling, and I lucked into sitting across from a woman who runs marketing for the San Jose Airport and next to the man who runs Dessert Professional. Lively conversation ensued during the 2 hour lunch.
Our first course quickly landed alongside some wonderful bread made in-house and delicious butter. First course: caldo verde or Portuguese potato soup. A lovely little start to the meal; rich and creamy without overwhelming the palate.
Second: pastel de bacalhau or codfish cakes; a lightly fried, crisp exterior yielded to reveal fluffy shredded fish. If you’re not familiar with bacalao, it might sound weird – fish that’s dried, concentrating its flavor, then when you want to cook it, you soak it in warm/hot water to reconstitute it. It’s very common in Caribbean cuisines (Puerto Rican, Dominican Republic both boast it as part of their cuisines) – I found this to be a very mild, inoffensive taste but not much pop to it either.
Third: cavala marinada com salad de algas (marinated mackerel and seaweed salad). The fish was very light and fresh, while the clouds upon which they sat were mild as well. But the seaweed salad was dripping with umami, a savoriness to it that mixed very well with the rest of the components and I couldn’t stop eating it. Really tasty.
Fourth: arroz de pato (duck rice). A few slices of perfectly cooked duck breast adorned the top (bad angling in the pic so you can’t see it), while the top part of the rice had this insanely crunchy crust that I gobbled up – it was SO good. I thought the portion was on the large side, given that this was course 4, but the others had been on the smaller side — the rice was interspersed generously with shredded duck (confit perhaps?) and a bit of bacon here and there, making it a flavor bomb. Really, really good, I was super glad I hadn’t stuffed myself silly on the bread earlier!
Fifth: pudim flan com gelado de baunilha (flan with vanilla ice cream). Extremely eggy flan with a fun sugar structure on top. This was very bland to me – satisfactory but nothing that would wow… but I’m not familiar with Portuguese desserts so I’m not sure if there was another one she could have made to good effect.
A very fun and delicious lunch — I was very happy learning more about other cultures and cuisines with which I’m not too familiar, and this was a great way to introduce me to dishes that were at once familiar and different. Congratulations on your Michelin star, Adega!!
You know I’m a huge fan of the Bay Area — there’s a ton of great food, shopping, culture, everything out there. I definitely recommend getting out there and checking out Adega if you can, and exploring all that San Jose has to offer!
And because I know some of you wonder… this was the swag we received. A very nice bottle of wine, a couple of magazines about the area, a small tin of airplane-shaped-paper clips (so cute!), a nifty reusable tote with map of San Jose on it, a bag of granola from Manresa, and a really cute necklace from Jet Set Candy — a small luggage tag with San Jose’s call letters on it.
That granola is legit, too — I broke into the bag the next morning and it was so, so good with plain Greek yogurt. I need to get more of it! Delicious (and I’m thrilled there’s no coconut in it).
Thanks to the great press and marketing teams that made this lunch possible, and for inviting me! I had a great time and enjoyed everything thoroughly!!
I was not paid to write about this experience and present my opinion freely.