Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Kasey's Dish Worth Driving To: Natas in Sherman Oaks

As some of you know, my nationality is 1/2 French and 1/2 Portuguese, so not only does that mean a whole lot of temper... it means a whole lot of talent in the kitchen too!
In the past, I've shared a few of my favorite Portuguese recipes (click here to see) but a few weeks ago I discovered something even better...  Natas Pastries in Sherman Oaks. Natas is a full out authentic Portuguese Restaurant that has everything this little Port-a-gee could desire!

I had the opportunity to sit down with Natas owner, Fatima Marques to enjoy a few traditional dishes that reminded me of the restaurants I grew-up going to in New Bedford, Massachusetts.
In a matter of minutes, Fatima made me feel right at home. As I sipped on a passion fruit Sumol (traditional Portuguese soda) we chatted about her background as a professional dancer, which is what brought her to LA from mainland Portugal. She noticed that there was a lack of Portuguese cuisine in Los Angeles (tell me about it!) so she decided to make some of her favorite pastries from back home, most specifically, the natas. For those who are unfamiliar with natas, it's pretty much heaven in a pastry shell, but we'll get to that in a bit.

We started started our culinary journey with the Chouriços Grelhados which is an appetizer of assorted Portuguese sausages and picked vegetables. This is most like the linguica and chourico I grew up with and love using a bunch of my recipes. Warning... your mouth will start salivating in 3...2....1....

Next up for our main course, Fatima suggested we try one of the dishes they are famous for, the Bacalhau (codfish) com Natas. This is a dish of boiled salt codfish (tastes WAY better than it sounds, trust me) with sauteed potatoes and thinly sliced onions all in a delicious Bechamel cream sauce. Now I won't lie, I was a bit hesitant to try this dish because my memories of Bacalhau all include my great aunt making it and how much it would stink up her house! You could smell that fish a mile away. However, Fatima explained to me that it all has to do with time and the preparation of the codfish. 


As if that wasn't enough to satisfy my cultural craving, Fatima had one more surprise in store for me. I had mentioned her that one of my favorite dishes from back home was Pork Alentejana which is a hearty stew with chunks of pork, baby clams and potatoes all in a spicy thick broth loaded with crushed red peppers, a Portuguese staple. No more than 10 minutes after I mentioned it our server presented their Carne de Porco a Alentejana. Yup, you guessed it! Just like back home in New Beige! The best part about this dish was that I had plenty left over to have for lunch the next day! 

Now, you didn't think I could come review a place called Natas and not have one, did you? Again, for those who may not be familiar with this pastry, it is a thick custard that is cooked in a flaky pastry shell until it develops a golden brown skin on the top. This was a staple at brunches and holidays growing up. They are a wonderful dessert (or breakfast... don't judge) that will compliment such a rich and flavorful meal. 

The next time you are looking to discover "something different", head on up to Natas for a dinner that will certainly delight your tastebuds and expand your palate! 

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