Last weekend i went to the wedding of a very special friend of mine.
The place was beautiful, a chic, nature inspired hotel by the beach, in the mid-north of Portugal, Santa Cruz.
It was a small, intimate wedding, where by the end i felt good friends with everyone.
The hotel is minimalist chic at its best. They grow their own produce, all organic and from their 10 acre land, which produces the most simple, robust and homegrown flavour-some food ever.
We were served little plates of starters to share. Shaved carpaccio of polvo (octopus), a mix of local mushrooms, tiny diced selections of vegetables - pumpkin, chestnuts (shoown) and carrot i think? All with lots of bread and the most fragranced oil to dip in.
There was a choose of mains, vegetarian risotto or fish, which i opted for. Delicate white fish (not sure exactly which kind, sorry), served with greens and tomatoey potatoes on the side.
I don't have pictures of the food from the reception (didn't want to be busy with the camera during meal time!) But i can tell you that the dessert of chocolate mousse, come cakey topping with walnuts was the most delicious chocolatey thing ive eaten in a long time.
A few days before the wedding i was asked to make some cakes/cake for my boyfriend's work. Always keen to try a new (or put away to try) recipe - i had read one for Chocolate Cheesecake brownies. This had come from Donna Hay and her latest magazine, i'm afraid i dont have a link to the recipe in the magazine but her beautiful website is definitely worth visiting!
My boyfriend is not a huge chocolate fan, but as i was aiming to please his work colleagues, i thought how could i go wrong with chocolate. And i wanted to make something that is not sold in every cafe here, so i figured being in Portugal, its not a place often associated with brownies (except the local Starbucks).
And to add a twist, the topping was cheesecake. A huge favourite of my boyfriends. So win, win all round then?
I over-baked them. Seriously, THE most silly, stupid and easiest thing to do to brownies. And i wasn't a 100% loving their taste either. I think it was my down-grade of chocolate i used compared to my normal, doubly expensive, organic, hardcore stuff.
But i still ate the seriously over-baked edges, and apparently they all loved them at his work too, so i think they did ok, this time.
Nothing has managed to beat my best brownies ever, a recipe from Nigel Slater. A full on, hardcore in your face, chocolate attack - oh so worth it.
But it think i might dabble again into making cheesecake, but only this time do it alone and not with the brownie underneath.
I mean why ruin the chocolate in my book?!
Any win, win brownie ideas out there?? Or have a try at this Donna Hay recipe, and let me know what they are like when cooked right!
There was also a huge table in the lobby of the hotel, full of house/kitchen things to purchase. I have to admit, i was slightly mesmerized by this, and could of bought nearly everything on it...
P.s. I caught the bouquet at the wedding! And i got to keep it, squeal!