Chouriço Flambéed at Cafe Spiga in Ottawa

Chouriço Flambéed at Cafe Spiga in Ottawa

I was served this novel and interesting dish at the now defunct Cafe Spiga down in Ottawa’s Byward Market. If the name Chouriço is unknown to you, but still seems vaguely familiar, this is because it is the Poruguese name for the more widely known Chorizo variety of Sausage.

At Cafe Spiga, which was a Portuguese restaurant, they served their very simply indeed. It was grilled and then flamed with a very pleasant Brandy just before being brought to the table.

The Sausage was still flaming when it was brought to the table and, if you look closely at the above picture, you can see a tongue of orange just to the right of center of the dish. This persisted for a good couple of minutes before dying away, leaving the Brandy, presumably now devoid of alcohol, at the bottom of the dish.

The platter itself was a novelty for me and I found it very interesting. It was earthenware and must have been purpose designed for this particular dish. Possibly, the sausage could be replaced with skewers of meat, or the like, but I can’t see that the structure of the dish would really have any other use than this type of presentation.

Inside the Cafe Spiga Chouriço
Inside the Cafe Spiga Chouriço

Chorizo Sausage comes in many different varieties depending on where, and by whom, it was made. I don’t have sufficient familiarity with the Portuguese version to say whether that is true in this case as well, but I think I enjoyed this particular version more than any Spanish or North American variety.

Firstly, the skin on this Chouriço was quite thick and resilient, rather like that on Frankfurters, or Knackwurst. The effect of this makes biting into one of these types of sausage like biting into an apple, where the skin resists the pressure of the teeth, only to suddenly give way to the more tender inner flesh. It is a small part of the Chorizo (and Knackwurst) experience, but one that I enjoy.

As you can see, the stuffing in this sausage is quite chunky with large pieces of fat visible. The flavor is not especially easy to describe, and the best I can say is that it was very much like eating a cured ham with a faint hint of smoky Paprika. The Brandy used was very pleasant (and I regret not asking what it was), and the Apple notes it had really complimented the sausage. For a simple dish, this interesting appetizer was a real hit with me.

Comments, questions or suggestions most welcome!