As a frequent traveler, I have crossed political borders in many ways: by plane, train, bus, car, and boat. On our day trip to Macau yesterday, I walked across a border for the first time after taking a bus from Zhongshan to the Chinese/Macau customs. On the other side lay a place that is very much Cantonese in lifestyle and language, but where you will find a huge amount of culinary diversity.
Macau was a Portuguese colony until 1999, when it was returned to China. It remains a Special Administrative Region like Hong Kong, which means it gets its own Special boundaries, laws, and Special access to bulk imports of Portuguese sausages. The thought of delicious cured meat compelled me to wander the narrow hilly streets in search of Portuguese and Macanese fare, which is a combination of Portuguese, African, and Southeast Asian cooking.
During the day we ate wherever we walked, as street food in Macau is abundant and delicious. At night I wanted a long, relaxing sit-down dinner. Unfortunately it started to rain just as we were about to walk towards a couple of restaurants in the southern part of the peninsula. Looking for shelter, we turned onto a narrow cobblestone street off Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro, and saw a charming little building strung up with lights. Restaurante Escada, said the swinging sign. The daily specials chalkboard listed bacalhau, seafood stew, and a range of grilled meats. We asked to see the regular menu too, and immediately 3, 4, 5, 10 dishes popped out as something I wanted to try. Sold.
For an appetizer we ordered a Portuguese sausage that came out on a flaming dish. The waitress turned it over so we could see how it blistered oh-so-deliciously on the open flame. Tasting the sausage three years after my last trip to Spain and Portugal reminded me just how adept Iberians are when it comes to curing meat.
I ordered Galinha à Africana for my entree, a roasted chicken covered in piri piri, or African bird’s eye chili, sauce. The half chicken portion size was more than I could comfortably eat, but definitely sated my appetite for tender and subtley spiced meat. Jacob loved his beef in cream sauce entree; while I am not a huge fan of rare meat, I did steal more than a few french fries, crisp and lightly dusted with pepper, off his plate.
It was a wonderful meal to end a day of exploring Macau, a place so physically close to Guangdong Province, but culturally and culinarily different.
Rua de Sé No. 8 (off Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro)