Food Detective Reed – Lapas lover or lapas lover not?

Angie ReedLapas lover or lapas lover not? People seem to be divided on this one.

What is a lapa, one might ask? Or lapas? For those who are not in the know, with an appetite for savvy, here a dollop of info Wikipedia brings to the plate. In a mollusk nut shell: A lapa is Patella, and Patella is a genus of sea snails with gills, typical true limpets, marine gastropod mollusks in the family Patellidae. Here in the Azores they are mainly known as lapa-brava and lapa-mansa. A delicacy on the islands, usually served as an entree. They come prepared in various ways and are enjoyed uncooked as well. I partook in them raw, once. A true morsel mouthful chomp of ocean. They agreed with me quite well uncooked, however my soft spot is more likely reserved for them grilled.

I’m Angie, with the big limpet grin in the pic, after wolfing down the 5 Euro grilled lapas starter at our local family-run mini-market/restaurant and hang-out, Aldina’s. Aldina’s where one goes for coffee, a drink, some shopping, to shoot the breeze. It’s where you know to get a forks-up, thumbs-up good deal hearty meal. The daily menu is listed on a chalk-board that’s carted table to table, featuring fresh fish and meats, grilled or fried – your country cooking a la Azores. The ambiance of this establishment is friendly, and the milieu is a mix of locals, farmers in for a tank up and a chat at the bar, to the occasional tourist or estrangeiro out for dinner, and on occasion the expedite bus-load of tourists during high-season, ready to shuffle up the complementary hot meal their island bus-tour offers. Aldina’s is the hub of the north side of Faial in sunny rural Cedros. And, Aldina, is not only the owner the business is named after, the heart and soul of the enterprise; she is the mother, confidant, buddy and astute business woman who runs the show. You can’t help but love Aldina, her family, and her sans BS canniness. I’m fortunate to be only a stroll down the hill away whenever I’m peckish for a chat and prato do dia.

Yours truly with unstoppable Cedros restaurateur, Aldina

Thought I’d start off here with a lapas starter, for starters, as my culinary article entrée to this blog. They were indeed so succulent, tender and delicious I needed to write about this experience and share. These particular limpets can have a real tendency to be rubbery to the bite – but not these Patellidae. They were fresh, pulpy, and dressed in a delicate sauce. Determining by the colour, texture and flavour of the sauce, my educated guesstimates the following: a drizzle tomato sauce, white wine, notable amounts of garlic, perhaps malaguetta…? They were outright mouth-wateringly beautiful to look at. And they smelled heavenly, as a plate of sea-food can do. That being so, they didn’t make the photo. The gastropod molluscs made it from plate to pallet before the photographer could say, ‘say cheese’. I might add: he was busy with his pork-chop.

Angie Reed

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