From Portugal with wine

Tchernichovsky 6 in Tel Aviv highlights the traditions of Portuguese cuisine for a month.

Tchernikovsky 6 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Tchernikovsky 6
(photo credit: Courtesy)
From January 14 to February 13, the trendy Tchernichovsky 6 bistro will have a special menu dedicated to the flavors, ingredients and style of Portuguese cooking. As the sole importer of Portuguese wines in Tel Aviv, chef and owner Eyal Ron is promoting the culture and flavor of an equally intriguing Mediterranean country.
The celebration coincides with the arrival of famed Portuguese chef Milton. Turning his two-week holiday in Israel in to a working vacation, chef Milton will be a guest in the kitchen of Tchernichovsky 6 for an authentic Portuguese experience and will be preparing a range of specialty dishes.
Located on the chic stretch of Tchernichovsky Street, the bistro is a romantic, European style dining destination. The street itself is surprisingly peaceful. Only steps away from the busy Carmel Market and the debauchery of the pubs on Allenby, the red striped awning and outdoor seating are perfect for a warm Tel Aviv day.
Inside the restaurant, tea lights illuminate the open space and dance off the wine bottles on the wall. The small touches of fresh flowers, etched porcelain plates and antique lanterns transport the diner away from the Israeli coast and into a European seaside culture.
The menu on offer will be an eclectic mix of seafood, meat, soups and salads in the Portuguese tradition, with a variety of tastings changing daily. However, the food will serve as a springboard to sample the wines that Ron has imported from Portugal himself.
Portugal is most known for the production of port, a sweet and heavy dessert wine. Yet over the past two decades, the region has been producing a selection of varied wines that Ron highlights at his restaurant. For Ron, the culture of Portugal spoke to him more so than any other place. Its remoteness and political isolation led the mountainous Mediterranean country to develop a unique culture steeped in tradition.
One of the wines that will be highlighted is the pleasingly tart and bubbly Vino Verde. It is a light and airy wine to begin the meal with. The Dom Raphael white is less fruity and more robust. Its full body sits on the tongue and leaves a crisp aftertaste. The red on offer is a three-grape blend from Vino Verde and presents an aromatic bouquet for the senses.
The array of starters on offer ranges from fresh seafood and comforting soup to a mix of textured grains and potatoes. The first course of soup (NIS 38) is a Portuguese take on the classic wedding soup. A light broth is the base for creamy lentils, fresh kale and savory sausage. Seared calamari is flavored with lemon, fresh pepper and tomato salsa.
The fresh taste and moderate texture makes it a welcome departure from the usual fried dish.
A recurring ingredient, and steeped in Portuguese tradition, is the fish bacalhau. The white codfish is extremely versatile. The size of the specific fish used is usually about one meter and is salted and dried. To marinate the fish, the salt is taken out over a period of 72 hours with water or milk. Bacalhau makes multiple appearances in ever-changing roles on Ron’s menu. As a starter, a deep-fried spiced croquette sits on a bed of moist lentils (NIS 48).
Alternatively, a salad with boiled potatoes, olives and a hard-boiled egg is a creamy base for the salty fish (NIS 38).
The bacalhau makes another appearance in the Portuguese style paella. The arroz con mariscos has fresh mussels, creamy rice, flaky fish and the savory addition of sausage (NIS 85). A more comforting dish is the souffle of sweet potatoes, coriander, onions, tomatoes and fish. They are classic ingredients cooked with a new vitality that offers an excellent base to highlight the fish. An alternative to seafood is the tender pork fillet marinated in brandy sauce (NIS 75). It is served over sautéed red cabbage with toasted almonds.
A sample of the desserts are a fluffy tort with a side of marinated strawberries (NIS 38), a creamy custard crème brûlée (NIS 35) with a glass like sugary top and a sugar-free, but surprisingly decadent, chocolate mousse (NIS 35).The writer was a guest of the restaurant.Tchernichovsky 6 Not kosher 6 Tchernichovsky St., Tel Aviv Tel: (03) 620-6610 Mon – Thurs. noon – 5 p.m.Friday 10 a.m. – midnight. Friday breakfasts 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.Saturday 10:30 a.m. – midnight.Saturday breakfast 10:30 a.m.–12:45 p.m. Closed on Sunday.