Pass the port: Mark Hix finds culinary inspiration on a trip to meet a Portuguese wine-maker

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

A few weeks ago, I went on a trip to Portugal with the Chop House's wine merchant John Hutton – but our journey out there turned into a bit of a passport nightmare. In London the night before we left, I suddenly realised that my passport was in the side pocket of my small travel case in Dorset.

Luckily my friend, the restaurateur Mitch Tonks, was travelling up from Brixham for the trip and was able to make a small detour to Charmouth to pick up my passport. As we were checking in at the airport, however, Mitch suddenly realised that his wife Penny had packed his old passport by mistake, so he had to get his current one couriered up by a local taxi company – which cost an arm and a leg as you can imagine – and had to fly out later in the day from Heathrow.

Mitch just about managed to get to us in time for the end of dinner with our host, the wine and port-maker Sophia Bergqvist from the Quinta de la Rosa vineyard. We began the evening with a few glasses of Sophia's delicious house cocktail, called "Sophia's Sling", made from white port and tonic. White port (which you can buy from specialist wine merchants) is very versatile: you could serve it as a pudding wine, as an accompaniment to foie gras or simply chilled from the fridge as a great apéritif – and I have used it as an inspiration in the following recipes.

Sophia's Sling

Makes 4

The last time I used white port was when I was marinating foie gras for a terrine a few years ago, but now that I've been re-introduced to the stuff it's definitely going to be my drink of the summer. You don't need a formal recipe here; simply put a large measure of white port into a slim Jim or highball glass with ice and top it up with tonic water (Fever-tree is my favourite brand) and a slice of lemon.

Braised pork cheeks and chorizo with porto branco and broad beans

Serves 4

Pork cheeks are one of the best cuts you can buy for braising. Ask your butcher to order them in advance or use pieces of pork neck as an alternative. Use cooking chorizo for this and not the slicing chorizo (Brindisa, the Spanish food specialists in London's Borough Market, sell fantastic cooking chorizo – see

800g pork cheeks, cut into about 3cm chunks
2tbsp flour, plus extra for dusting
Vegetable or corn oil for frying
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
60g butter plus a couple of extra knobs for the broad beans
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
2 medium onions, peeled, halved and finely chopped
1tsp tomato purée
1.5ltrs hot beef stock
200ml white port
A couple of sprigs of thyme
150g cooking chorizo
250g podded weight of broad beans
1tbsp chopped parsley

Heat a heavy-based frying pan on a medium heat. Season and lightly flour the pork cheeks and fry in a couple of batches until they are a nice brown colour. Meanwhile, heat the butter in a thick-bottomed saucepan and gently cook the garlic and shallots on a low heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring every so often until softened. Stir in the flour and continue cooking and stirring on a medium heat for a minute. Add the tomato purée and gradually whisk in the hot stock and white port. Add the thyme and pork, season, bring to a gentle simmer, cover and cook on a low heat for 1 hour. Cut the chorizo into rough 1cm chunks or if using small ones then leave them whole. Heat a heavy frying pan and cook the chorizo on a medium heat for a few minutes, lightly colouring them, then drain any fat away and pat with some kitchen paper and add to the stew. Re-season if necessary and continue simmering gently for about 30 minutes or until the pork is tender.

Meanwhile, cook the broad beans in boiling salted water for 2-3 minutes until tender, then drain and run briefly under the cold tap. Some large broad beans may need the outer shells removing. Heat the extra butter in a pan and re-heat the broad beans and parsley and season. To serve, spoon the pork and sauce into warmed serving bowls and scatter the beans over.

Steamed cockles with white port and wild fennel

Serves 4

Rather like sherry, white port really complements shellfish such as cockles. You could use clams for this if you can't get live cockles, or even use a mixture of both. Cockles need to be left in a bowl of cold water for an hour or so and agitated with your hands quite regularly so that they shed any sand.

1kg live cockles
150ml white port
2tbsp wild fennel or dill
150g chilled butter, cut into small pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Rinse the cockles in fresh water and place in a large saucepan with the white port and fennel. Season lightly, cover with a lid and cook on a high heat, shaking the pan every so often until all the cockles are opened. Strain off the liquid into another pan and whisk in the butter until melted and emulsified. Spoon the cockles into warmed serving bowls and pour the butter over.

Strawberry and white port trifle

Serves 4

Trifle normally conjures up memories of a splash of old sherry that's been hanging around in the drinks cabinet for ages. Now that I've got the white port bug, though, a good old-fashioned trifle seemed an obvious choice.

150g strawberries
50g sponge cake
100ml white port

For the jelly

100-120g strawberries, chopped
200ml water
200ml white port
100g caster sugar
6g leaf gelatine (2 sheets)

For the custard

Half a vanilla pod
300ml double cream
5 egg yolks
60g caster sugar
2tsp cornflour

For the topping

50-60g strawberries
250ml Jersey cream
60g caster sugar
20-30g almonds toasted with 1tsp sugar or crushed macaroons, to serve

For the jelly, bring the water, strawberries and sugar to the boil and simmer gently for a couple of minutes and remove from the heat. Meanwhile, soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for a minute or so until soft, squeeze out the water and stir into the strawberry mixture till dissolved, strain through a fine sieve and leave to cool a little, then add the white port.

Break the sponge into pieces and put into 4 individual glass serving dishes or 1 large one and pour over the white port. Slice the strawberries and put them on top of the soaked sponge; pour over the cooled, but not set, jelly so it just covers the strawberries. Put in the fridge for an hour or so to set.

Meanwhile, make the custard. Split the vanilla pod in half lengthways and scrape out the seeds with the point of a knife. Put the double cream, vanilla pod and seeds into a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and leave to infuse for about 10 minutes. In a bowl, mix the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour together. Take out the vanilla pod and pour the cream on to the egg mixture and mix well with a whisk. Return to the pan and cook gently over a low heat for a few minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the custard thickens. (Don't let it boil!) Remove from the heat and give it a final mix with a whisk. Transfer to a bowl, lay a sheet of clingfilm over the surface of the custard to prevent it forming a skin and leave it to cool for about 30 minutes. Once the jelly has set, spoon over the custard then leave to set for half an hour or so.

Now prepare the topping. Blend the strawberries in a liquidiser until smooth. Put the double cream and sugar into a bowl and carefully whisk until fairly firm, then leave in the fridge until the custard has set. Gently fold the strawberry purée into the whisked cream to form a ripple effect. Spoon the mixture on top of the trifle and decorate with the almonds toasted with a little sugar in the oven (watch them like a hawk or they'll burn) or use crushed macaroons instead.

Andy Murray with his girlfriend of nine years, Kim Sears who he has got engaged to
peopleWimbledon champion announces engagement to girlfriend Kim Sears
Arts and Entertainment
An unseen image of Kurt Cobain at home featured in the film 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck'
filmThe singers widow and former bandmates have approved project
footballArsenal 2 Borussia Dortmund 0: And they can still top the group
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Investigo: Finance Manager - Global Leisure Business

    £55000 - £65000 per annum: Investigo: My client, a global leader in their fiel...

    Investigo: Senior Finance Analyst - Global Leisure Business

    £45000 - £52000 per annum + bonus+bens : Investigo: My client, a global leader...

    Investigo: Financial reporting Accountant

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits : Investigo: One of the fastest growing g...

    Sphere Digital Recruitment: CRM Executive – Global Travel Brand – Luton – £25k

    25,000: Sphere Digital Recruitment: CRM Executive – Global Travel Brand – Luto...

    Day In a Page

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
    Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

    Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

    The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
    Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

    Sarkozy returns

    The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
    Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

    Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

    Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
    Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

    Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

    Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
    Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

    Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

    It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
    Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

    Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

    Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
    Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

    Putin’s far-right ambition

    Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
    Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

    Escape to Moominland

    What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
    Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

    24-Hour party person

    Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
    Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

    A taste for rebellion

    US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
    Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

    Colouring books for adults

    How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
    Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

    What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

    Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
    Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

    Call me Ed Mozart

    Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire