Having recently returned from another week in Portugal (Lagos, Algarve), I am craving Portuguese food like you cannot imagine. I ate my body weight in fish; from tuna and salmon, to golden bream and swordfish, and tucked into traditional Portuguese piri piri chicken, pork and clams, and pastel de nata (custard tarts).
There’s only one thing that will satisfy my craving, and that’s another visit to Amazonas, Portuguese and Brazilian Street Food café/restaurant on Clifton Street, Cardiff. In fact, my next visit will be my fourth. It’s taken me a while to get round to writing about Amazonas, which was opened last summer by a lovely Madeiran woman named Claudia. The advantage of this is that I’ve now eaten my way through most of the menu, so I have lots of lovely food to write about.
Here are my highlights from the Amazonas menu:
Pao de Queijo, £2.50
These baked cheese balls have a crispy exterior and a soft, puffy interior. Flavoured with mild, tangy cheese (Parmesan, I think), they are commonly eaten in Brazil for breakfast or as a snack. Guaranteed to make getting out of bed that little bit easier.
Prego Especial, £5.95
Amazonas offer two different takes on the traditional Portuguese steak sandwich, or ‘prego’; the Prego no Pao (£4), a steak sandwich with garlic butter, lettuce and tomato, or the Prego Especial – the same as the Prego no Pao, with the addition of egg, ham and cheese. The tender, juicy steak pairs well with the just-runny fried egg, slightly salty ham and melted cheese, while the garlic butter soaks into the lightly floured Portuguese bread roll and the lettuce, making for an irresistible, garlicky flavour explosion every time you take a bite of the sandwich.
Picanha is a traditional Brazilian dish of sirloin cap rump steak; considered the best cut of beef throughout much of South America because the bone and tenderloin have been removed. The meat is cut using a Brazilian method, cooked medium-rare, dressed with lime and served with a small bowl of farofa (toasted cassava flour) to dip the steak into, and vinaigrette.
Calabreza Acebotada, £4.95
Slightly salty Brazilian pork sausage, almost resembling bacon, fried with onions and fresh herbs and served with the obligatory side salad.
Milho Frito, £1.50
A classic dish on the Portuguese island of Madeira, Milho Frito consists of crispy-coated, fluffy-centred cubes of polenta interspersed with fresh herbs.
Franqueijo Pastel, £3.25
Another Brazilian speciality, a pastel is a thin rectangular pastry stuffed with a variety of fresh ingredients. Amazonas serves no less than six different types of pastel – a great sign of the popularity of this tasty dish. I am a sucker for a chicken and cheese combination so naturally, the Franqueijo Pastel blew my mind; morsels of chicken and hot, melted cheese stuffed inside a golden brown, crispy shell.
Pastel de nata (custard tart)
I’m a big fan of Portuguese pastel de nata, a.k.a custard tarts. In fact, there is a Portuguese bakery just a few doors down from Amazonas called Nata and Co, which is well worth checking out. However, on my second visit to Amazonas, the staff excitedly let me know that they had freshly made Portuguese tart on offer, as I’d asked them what they thought of Nata and Co’s custard tarts when I visited before. It would have been rude not to try Amazonas’ version out for myself, so I ordered a slice.
A triangular wedge of smooth, mellow egg custard lay encased in pastry, dusted with nutmeg. It was rich and creamy – one of the best egg custards I’ve ever tasted – although I think I prefer the flaky texture of individual pastel de nata tarts.
Do you like Portuguese and/or Brazilian food? I’d love to hear what your favourite dishes are.
Amazonas, Brazilian and Portuguese Street Food
140 Clifton Street,
029 2132 2829
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