Portugal and chocolate mousse
J and I, when in Portugal, could bore anyone to death as we talk about the same thing, all the time, over and over; why is it that their coast is perfectly beautiful, while ours is a total mess of concrete apartment blocks?
Right now we´re on the Costa Vicentina, which is a string of sandy coves and dramatic cliffs where storks nest on jutting rocks and the surf pounds.
Also, the food is great. Not just the grilled fish, which is of course excellent, but the boiled vegetables that come with it, which are so sweet and fresh that we eat them outright, no oil, no salt, nothing. The fish soup, the cuttlefish stew, the octopus salad. All great.
One thing I find particulary charming is the chocolate mousse. In Spain, chocolate mousse is over. Trendy restaurants have banished it from their menus, and serve instead brownies, or carrot cake, or cheesecake. You might, perhaps, be treated to some foamy thing featuring local cheeses or honey, or a molecular rendition of some traditional nunnery pastry.
As for the basic elemental roadhouse restaurants, if they have mousse, you can be sure it comes in a little clay pot, straight from a factory who knows where.
These Portuguese, though, they know their way around a carton of eggs, and see no problem at all in dishing up such a classic.
It comes in fluted glasses, or little metal cups, maybe with a dollop of whipped cream, maybe not, but it is that homely type that is more creamy than moussy, having been too thoroughly beaten, perhaps, and is just chocolatey enough, being blissfuly free of any 70% cocoa conceits.
In fact, as J and I simultaneously mumbled through our first mouthful of the stuff, it is exactly the same mousse we had at our grandmothers´houses.
Brilliant. Next time I have people over for dinner, I´m giving them chocolate mousse, and I bet they´ll say wow this is great we haven´t had this in ages.