Kersten Rettig: No Passport Needed for This Trip to Portugal

If you can’t make it to Portugal this month, you’re in luck. Central Market is bringing Portugal to you.

After a five-year hiatus, Central Market has brought back the popular immersive food and culture celebration called Passport, this time spotlighting Portugal.

The ultimate foodie fest kicks off its two-week run September 13 at all Central Market locations, and you can expect a full menu of tastings, events, and cooking classes daily.

As I mentioned in my recent story about Portugal, seafood, pork, and pastries tend to steal the show at every meal, and Passaporte Portugal is loaded with options to try.

Portuguese Seafood PHOTO: McKenna Cook

Be sure to check out the seafood options, including sardines, octopus, barnacles, clams, prawns, and more. Some of these can be intimidating to cook with. Fortunately, the staff is well trained on the products to help. Iberian pork is notoriously tender and flavorful. For the first time, Alentejano Iberian pork is making its Texas debut.

Pastel de Nata is the singular form of Pasteis de Nata. I say this because you’ll want Pasteis, not Pastel.  This is Portugal in a pastry, light, simple but flavorful. The bakery will have these and other breads and pastries for you to enjoy.

At a media kick-off event for Passaporte Portugal, I had the opportunity to meet with the buyers, also referred to as Food Explorers, who traveled to Portugal several times over 18 months to find the products and work with suppliers to source and import the products.  The results are worth the effort.

Be sure to pick up an Azorean pineapple, which is sweet and tender, not woody or fibrous like some. More importantly, these pineapples have pedigree in the form of a Protected Designation of Origin, meaning only pineapples grown in greenhouses on the Azores Island of São Miguel can be called Azorean. Besides pineapples and prawns, there are hundreds of products to discover in the next two weeks. (Tip: Taste the Peri-Peri Ranch Dressing.)

Passaporte Portugal will also feature hundreds of Portuguese wines, some making their American debut at Central Market.  The company even found a source to make Madeira exclusively for this celebration. There will be ongoing in-store tastings and schedule classes showcasing Portuguese wines, but, alas, there will be no Port since it’s a fortified wine and can’t be sold in Texas grocery stores.

Events associated with this food fest include cooking classes that feature top Portuguese and American chefs. Find out class schedules and featured chefs online and book them, as the Passport cooking classes typically sell out.

Imported Portuguese Ceramics PHOTO: McKenna Cook

If you don’t like food, you can still become immersed in Portuguese culture with floral arranging classes that incorporate the gorgeous, bright colors of Portugal, and fabulous imported vases available for sale.

I had the honor of chatting with Stephen Butt, President of Central Market, H-E-B, who, like many on his team, traveled to Portugal to identify and source the best products to showcase.  He’s an unassuming leader, a billionaire, and part of a family dynasty that gives so much to the state of Texas. I thanked him for the Butt family’s many contributions, and he said, without missing a beat, “We have a great team. They do it all.”  Such a classy guy leading a first-class company.

Enjoy Central Market’s Passaporte Portugal September 13-26 at all Texas Central Market locations.

Share this article...
Email this to someone
Share on Facebook
Tweet about this on Twitter
Share on LinkedIn

Kersten Rettig

Kersten Rettig is the only DFW Food/Travel writer with luxury hospitality leadership experience and a former restaurant owner, employee, and chief marketing officer. Kersten's worked on the inside and has the insight and experience to tell the stories to the outside. She's a Park Cities resident, mom, wife and a decent cook. Follow her on Instagram @KerstenEats.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.