LaSalette Restaurant/By Guest Editor, Dan Dias
I had always heard that California’s climate, the rich abundance of fresh seafood and locally grown produce made it similar to Portugal.
Perhaps that’s why the wave of Portuguese immigrant fisherman, whalers, and farmers who arrived there, soon made it their home for many generations to come.
Today, California has a large and thriving Portuguese community that embraces their culture and heritage.
On our second trip to California, my wife and I visited Napa Valley, toured the vineyards that truly reminded us Portugal and visited many other sights.
We ended our last night in Sonoma, California, with a wonderful cultural dinning experience at LaSalette Restaurant.
Owner/Chef Manuel Azevedo offers his own interpretation of modern Portuguese cuisine, which celebrates the immense flavors and dishes of Portugal while encouraging the use of fresh local, seasonal ingredients.
LasSalette’s old world ambiance, with it’s open hearth kitchen, generates home style comfort and appeal.The gracious Portuguese hospitality provided by the attentive staff as well as the familiar “Gallo de Borcellos” the LaSalette mascot, a national symbol of Portugal adorning the staff uniforms said to us; “Welcome to Portugal” as soon as we walked in the door!
The taste tempting menu with it’s quintessential Portuguese flavors, the home made breads, and tempting aromas in the air, left our pallets craving and anticipating our planned Summer trip to Portugal in August!
Our first bite of the amuse bouche (first bite) of Chourica with melted Sao Jorge Cheese with olives temped us with it’s spicy yet creamy taste. The appetizer of Scallops, chourico crusted Japanese sweet potato puree, with leek confit and Portuguese molho was superb.
We dived into the appetizer combination platter of succulent baby octopus, sweet tripe stew, fried goat cheese with compote jam, homemade bread and almonds all complemented by our Portuguese Douro valley wine selection; Vale de Bomfim.
Amuse Bushe – Chourica & Sao Jorge Cheese – LaSalette Cook Book
For my entree, I ordered the classic “Fisherman’s Stew” made fresh California coastal seafood of; juicy clams, mussels, shrimp and fish prepared in a rich broth with Portuguese chourica and spices.
My wife’s Wood Fired Branzino was simply the best she’s ever had!
Wood Fired Branzino
Whole Wood Fired Branzino – LaSalette Cook Book
Caldeirada – Portuguese Fisherman’s Stew – Sea bass, scallops, clams, mussels, shrimp, fingerling potatoes, linguiça, lobster fumet
Vale de Bomfim
Chocolate Fetish – Chocolate mousse with almond tuile, chocolate soufflé with ruby port geléeand bitter chocolate sorbet with caramelized banana
We smiled at each other as we overheard the couple at the next table who had never tasted tripe or Portuguese cuisine before, rave on and on about it’s goodness! We knew they would become adoring fans of Portuguese food just like many others before them.
The Chocolate Fetish dessert created a perfectly sweet ending to our diner that lasted during the taxi drive back to our hotel. We had a great experience dining at LaSalette and we plan on re-creating it again next year!
You don’t have to fly to California to taste the amazing dishes that Chef Azevedo has created for his guests, just visit the LaSalette website and order the LaSalette’s cook book because most of the dishes served at the restaurant are in it!
This book is not an ordinary cook book. It is meant to be used, shared and then passed down in the family.
It contains 360 pages, over 270 recipes, and the beautiful photographs by Portuguese photographer Henrigue Bagulho will leave you craving the flavor of Portugal, and inspire you to try the recipes.
What a perfect gift for the special Portuguese foodie in your life!
*Free Shipping available in Continental USA-May only.
Here’s the video of the promo for the cook book!
“My personal mission is to do whatever I can to put Portuguese cuisine in its rightful place alongside other great cuisines in the United States. Because the truth is, if we want to survive and prosper as a culture, we need to make an impact, not merely be present.” Chef Azevedo/Owner – LaSalette
Chef Manuel Azevedo
Grilled Sardines, Pickled Sea Beans and Azorean Green Sauce – LaSalette Cook Book
Olive Oil Poached Salt Cod Fish
Alentejana Style Pork & Clams – LaSalette Cook Book
Chef Azevedo has recently opened a new restaurant in Healdsburg, CA, called Cafe Lucia which we didn’t have time to visit but it’s on our agenda for next time!
18625 Sonoma Highway 12
Sonoma Ca 95476
235 Healdsburg Avenue, Suite 105
Healdsburg, CA 95448
Tel (707) 431-1113