Portuguese Conspiracy

Were it not for the gigantic hangover I have been nursing since Saturday – this piece would have been done and dusted on Sunday already!

We have a supper club. It’s a ridiculously wonderful and rather expensive excuse to get a group of mates together sans the kiddies for an evening of INDULGENCE! Consisting of a group of seven couples who never knew each other until our kids were thrown into the same class at pre-school, we have since formed a tight-knit, closely-coveted-by-many club who meet once every 2nd month to catch up and enjoy a good meal and far too many drinks. Our first year in business has been about “around the world in 12 dishes” and so far this year we have visited Italy at the Schlenks’ (our brave kick-starters to set the bar), Morocco by the Grasers’ (who raised it considerably by introducing a Bedouin tent and hubbly bubbly); followed by China at the Francois’ – India by the Scroobys’ – Australia by the Böttgers (and a close cancellation shave with a burst geyser on the morning of)…..and then came us, the Hoepners with a Portuguese conspiracy!

To let you in on the reason we don’t invite others to join us – its simply because none of us have dining room tables large enough to seat 14, and after we craftily navigated this issue around our 10-seater we were all set and ready for OUR TURN!


The way it works is….the host couple provide the space and place and prepare the main course, then we have a “roster” (thanks to our minister of entertainment Ms Maskell) which has each couple circulating the grid….pairing up for the remainders: two on drinks, two on starters and two on pud…all in the theme country that said couple drew from a hat way back when in Italy.

After a full day of preparation including a spring clean in an attempt to get rid of the dust caused by almost a year of renovating, setting the table, moving some furniture, rounding up enough cutlery, crockery and glassware for 14 for 3 courses, a touch of making pretty and farming the kids out for the night to their loving and rather nervous grandparents….oh and then the cooking – we arrived at 7:30pm. And so did our gang!

On the menu:

  • Drinks by team Maskell and Scrooby – Sangria with a fizz and enough “pop” to skin a cat!


  • Starters by the Grasers and Schlenks – homemade Portuguese bread by our Porra mascots and a very authentic beef dish called a Trinchado by our club chefs; the Grasers. Plus a sneaky sweet melon wrapped in Parma side dish by the hosts…


  • Mains by yours truly – Portuguese paella using the truly delish Eat.Art Paella gourmet spice mix, chicken peri-peri Nando’s style and a Portuguese salad.


  • Pud by team Böttger and Francois – a sumptuous vanilla tart with tasty little coconut balls that I forget the name of..?

All-in-all a healthy dose of Portugal and as the flowing wine takes over and the dishes are cleared, the effort is forgotten and the company is enjoyed and we begin planning for the next – the last in our “around the world” series – Switzerland at the Maskells, to be attended surely by at least a couple of Heidi’s in the making and certainly a fondue of sorts.

The question remains unresolved at this stage – what next!? Do we draw the next seven countries from Dom’s hat or do we change it up? I am of the belief that one shouldn’t change that which works….you’ll have to keep reading for the answer I guess. Forca Portugal!



~ Portuguese Paella ~
(serves 12)


12 skinless chicken thigh – deboned
handful chopped fresh rosemary
2 tbsp canola oil
2 links Portuguese chourico, sliced into rounds
2 cups diced onion
1 cup sliced red bell pepper
3 cups arborio rice
1 cup diced plum tomatoes
2 tspn sweet paprika
4 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups chicken stock (or broth)
1 tspn per person Eat.Art Spanish Paella Spice
2 boxes large shrimp/ prawns, peeled and deveined
2 cups asparagus tips
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
Sea salt and ground black pepper (suggest Persian Blue salt by Eat.Art)


1. De-bone and marinade chicken in finely chopped rosemary and olive oil – storing in fridge for 4-6 hours prior to cooking.

2. Preheat oven to 180% and prepare large oven-proof nonstick skillet or paella pan with oil heated over medium heat.

3. Add chicken and cook until lightly browned. Remove from pan, cover and keep warm.

4. Add chourizo and cook until lightly browned, followed by the onion and pepper – cook for about 10 minutes stirring constantly.

5. Add the rice, tomato, paprika, saffron and garlic and cook for 2 minutes stirring constantly.

6. Return chicken to pan and add stock which has been infused with the Eat.Art Paella spice mix. Season and bring to the boil.

7. Wrap handle of the pan with foil, cover and bake for 15 minutes.

8. Stir in the shrimp/ prawns, asparagus and peas, cover and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes or until shrimp are no longer translucent.

9. Serve garnished with freshly chopped parsley, a green salad and some lightly toasted Portuguese bread or French loaf.

Nan_blog picWritten for eat.art by: Nancy Hoepner  – Magpie Creative

Only slightly exhausted mother-of-two delicious girls, lover of food (fine and fast), purveyor of all things pretty and Jill of all things ‘creative’…Nancy has a background in the visual arts, design and marketing and is the owner of Magpie Creative. Having worked with the eat-art team before, she is thrilled, and slightly bewildered to have been asked to (take time out from juggling and) add some spice to the eat.art blog. Don’t get us wrong….it’s not that it needs it….it just wants more…and she is happy to oblige.

nancy@magpiecreative.co.za | http://www.magpiecreative.co.za  https://www.facebook.com/magpiecreativecapetown


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