You may recall I delivered a message from President Biden to Kim Jong Un, The Supreme Leader of North Korea, that if the United States provided massive food aid to the starving masses of North Korea then North Korea would scrap its missile launching tests. Well the offer was accepted and it worked well for both countries.
Kim respects tough leaders. For some reason in delivering the message to him from President Biden he was under the impression I am one tough dog. He is right as you don’t survive the streets of Cairo without being both tough and clever.
So I am very puzzled when a North Korean diplomat in Canada approached Bob and set up a Zoom call with Kim, Bob and myself. Why me? I don’t even talk!
Kim knows how much I enjoyed North Korean noodles with chicken (no onions or kimchi) so made an astonishing pitch to us. He proposed the establishment of a Korean noodle restaurant chain using his mother’s secret recipe. It would be established by a Cayman corporation of which Bob and Kim would each have 50% ownership in. The test market would be Portugal and then select European countries. The décor would be simple North Korean peasant.
Lawyers from each side met in New York and finalized the deal. About the only point that was sensitive was Kim’s insistence there be a huge portrait of him in the main seating area of each restaurant. We modified that so it would be hanging over the bathrooms.
In six months our first restaurant opened in the Bolsa in Porto a beautiful historic building which was the old stock exchange building where Bob was knighted into the Order of The Port Brotherhood. Bob, Dylan the Westie and I were there to open our first restaurant. It was an instant smash hit. We called the chain Kim and Reggie’s Korean Noodle Joint. A few weeks later we opened another one in Lisbon up in the hills, then Estoril and Viseu. Each restaurant had a collection of locally sourced wines selected by Bob as he knows the wines of each area well.
Bob, Dylan the Westie and I were at the opening of each restaurant. So we turned it into a bit of a holiday meeting Bob’s contacts in the wine, restaurant and hospitality business. We all ate like kings and saw some incredible sights.
I love the Douro Valley with its spectacular hills and beautiful vineyards. Oh and the food there. I love chicken but I tried some duck casseroles there. I LOVE DOURO DUCK! We also visited a big Port producer Quinta Noval where the “kitchen ladies” cooked a very special dessert of pancakes in a special Port wine sauce. The alcohol has been “cooked out” of the wine and this is a huge treat. I LOVE DOURO PANCAKES IN PORT WINE SAUCE! Bob says these kitchen ladies have prepared meals for him in wineries throughout Portugal. Bob says as a guest he ate what the field workers ate and he has yet to be disappointed. Bob now has an idea to establish a chain of restaurants called “Portuguese Kitchen Ladies!”
Outside of Viseu the Dão wine region often looks like a different planet with huge glacier deposited rocks throughout. We had a wonderful lunch with a wine owner in the Dão named Julia Kemper. I saw some huge mushrooms in a wooded area off her vineyards. Cool! Bob really likes her wine saying it was clean and pure. I think he said it was organic. We also liked Viseu and we saw some sort of student celebration making us feel like we were in a Harry Potter film set. Bob says he really likes Viseu as unlike Lisbon and Porto it is not overrun by cruise line passengers.
I did not like Estoril that much as it is overrun by Brits and foreign money. The Brits jammed our restaurant with many of them rather rude and intolerant saying finally the town had some good Asian food so much more creative than Portuguese food! It wasn’t long ago these Brits were eating boiled mutton, cabbage and potatoes!
Then I also loved a place about 30 minutes from Estoril called Guincho Beach. It is a huge beach with big waves and high winds so it is sort of a European wind surfing capital. Bob has a friend called Petra at a fancy hotel called Fortaleza do Guincho which is an old Moorish fort. Orson Welles, a famous American actor had stayed in our room! Bob said their dining room overlooking the Atlantic is his favourite place to eat in the world because the chef always has a bit of the artist in his blood and his dishes are creatively presented. We loved the beach but of course Dylan the Westie wanted no part of the water so he stayed with Petra. We also walked in a sand dune park just across from our hotel.
On our last night we met with an old friend of Bob called Alexandre who owns a seafood focused restaurant by the river in Porto called Postigo do Carvao. We all loved the simple non pretentious décor and the live music was neat. And the appetizers were fit for a king and the main courses were unbelievable. Bob enjoyed his sea bass with cabbage and those beautifully prepared Portuguese roast potatoes. And there were special desserts prepared for us by Alexandre’s mom. We had a great time listening to the music as Bob and Alexandre caught up. As we were heading to our jet at the Porto Airport after dinner Alexandre prepared an inflight dinner for all of us. Simple filet of chicken with green beans and potatoes for us dogs Bob had octopus in a special Douro wine sauce.
I LOVE PORTUGAL! Bob said we’ll come back soon and start in the North and head down to the Algarve.