My first glimpse of Albania Independence Day on November 28th in commemorating 99 Years of Freedom from the Ottoman Empire!
Thanks to Eddie & Sonila, owners of the infamous Porto Romano, I was treated to a memorable experience at their Mont Kiara outlet where they hosted a merriment in honors of Albania 99th Independence Day. I did a quick searched and found the history of Albania to be quite unique as Albanians are direct descendants of Illyrians, one of the oldest civilizations in Europe. Albanians are well-known for their cultural tradition in having generous and hospitable personalities. In fact, I also learned that Mother Teresa was an Albanian (that explained her kind soul)!
Sonila Hajderasi Wong, who is Albanian, had prepared a feast with recipes from her grandmother in honors of the special day. In the norm, Albanians enjoyed their meal with most of the dishes served together at once for a luxurious treat. The feast was truly an eye-opener for me as I found myself enjoying the banquet together with new found friends that night!
I had a refreshing Lime Juice that perked up my taste bud!
Char-Grilled Vegetables with Olives was moreish and had a lovely aroma of grilled aroma. Doused with a simple marinade of garlic, peppercorn and vinegar with olive oil, the flavors were truly refreshing with a bright addition of black olive flavors!
A simple but home cooked dish of Chicken Livers was nicely cooked with a firm but tender feel. I enjoyed this with Toasted Bread and the lovely Cheese, Tomato and Egg Platter.
This is one of my favorite dish that night! Tiny cylinders of scrumptious Lamb Koftas were simply a mouthful of pleasures. No gamey smell but only a lovely aroma of meat seasoned with spices and grilled to perfection. The minced lamb was tender and moist… which explained why I kept popping these into my mouth… J
A basic pasta of Spaghetti Aglio Olio but perfected simply to my liking! Pasta was al dente with a good heat flavor countering a multitude of flavors from the garlic, chili, herbs and olive oil. Definitely something comforting but packed quite a punch!
From my previous dining experience at Porto Romano, I vouched that the two pizzas I had again at this outlet was just as unbelievable good as the previous. This round, I savored Pizza alla Diavola and Pizza con Quattro Formaggi and both were superb. Diavola proved to be devilish combination of beef pepperoni and cheese and spiced up with chili. I simply loved the four cheese pizza for its pungent and robust flavors of mozzarella, parmesan, feta and blue cheese! If you are a cheese lover like me, make sure to order this creamy and cheesy concoction of strong flavored cheeses against warm pizza dough.
The Mediterranean flavors of Roast Chicken with Lemons & Olives shone nicely in this dish eaten together with Saffron Rice. A roast that was juicy and tender, I thought the flavors of garlic, tomato, olives and lemon exuded a warmness of a hand-me down recipe from someone’s grandmother, probably this one is from Sonila’s grandmother herself!
An infamous Albanian ingredient is lamb and thus we had a Roast Lamb with Potatoes among our feast that night. Roast till done and covered with a dark rich gravy, I only had a small bite of this as I was already quite filled up from my favorite pizzas and pastas. The lamb was a bit too cooked for my preference as I like mine pink but the roast potatoes was nicely crispy and tender.
A shot of Rakia to round up the meal! A national drink of Albania, the liqueur is a result of distillation of fermented fruits. It may look innocent but the alcohol content is quite strong. Read more about Rakia here. I was told by Eddie that these were specially brought in from Albania… J
The night was filled with warm smiles, glowing faces, glorious décor of Christmas and precious friendships with the old and new! There was a presentation on Albania and its gorgeous places coupled with a toast to the special day. Check out the happy faces that night!
There was even a huge cake baked specially for the occasion featuring the flag of Albania with its double headed eagle, a national and ethic symbol of the country, with colors of red and black. It was a sight to smile when I saw the children crowding around the cake debating on who gets to blow out the candles!
It was definitely a night to remember! What I do love about such occasions is the fact that I get to meet and know about people from other cultures and their passions. The sharing of a meal and friendship through such occasion are simply Priceless!
To Eddie & Sonila, thank you for the warmth invite once again!
Ristorante Porto Romano
K1- Mont Kiara Banyan
28, Jalan Kiara
50480 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03 6207 8171