Until the day he died, chef Leopoldo Garcia Calhau’s grandfather would take a shot of bagaço, a Portuguese liquor made from leftover grapes, every morning before breakfast. As restaurants across the country looked for ways to adapt to a 1pm weekend lockdown imposed to stop a raging coronavirus second wave, the bracing custom became an inspiration. The Lisbon chef brought back the mata bicho (literally “kill the bug”) tradition to give diners a no-holds-barred weekend dinner at 9.30am instead of 9.30pm.
If a shot of rough liquor and an oyster on an empty stomach isn’t your style, how about a “tired horse soup” of bread doused in red wine and sugar? Diners at Taberna do Calhau have also been treated to a modernised version of the dish formerly fed to – depending on who you ask – tired horses or tired humans (even children) to get them through the day.
“We need to have fun because we have a lot of problems of course,” Mr Calhau says.
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