Saturday, June 06, 2009

Grilled octopus

Firstly, you can follow our host on Twitter, where he almost-daily uses all 140 available characters to make an on-the-Dot observation. Now on with our report:

Ka-Carlos is an unexpectedly stylish bistro located at 33 Hancock Street in Upham's Corner. This is not a pizza joint or a Chinese take-out counter or a sub shop. This is genuine, upscale Cape Verdean food that is delicious and affordable to most and a celebration of Cape Verdean culture transplanted in Dorchester, the best and biggest part of the great city of Boston. Few tourists visit Ka-Carlos. It's a nieghborhood gem. Just ask Thomas M. Menino, if you have any questions.

We went on Friday, our second visit. The first time we went was almost a year ago, but we just popped in for a very good drink while touring the neighborhood. This time, disgruntled by service at the D Bar, we headed out of yuppified Dorchester into its more urban center: Upham's Corner, a neighborhood overly notorious for its poverty and grime. You'll find neither at Ka-Carlos and you'll only find them in Upham's Corner if you actively look.

The dining room is sleek and clean, filled with local Dorchesterites of all colors and backgrounds with nothing but civility and citizenship in common. Both make for good conversations. It turns out, Ka-Carlos makes great food in a setting that encourages good conversation. A trio was playing live, Cape Verdean music just loud enough to add ambiance to the decor.

We met Carlos and he's a great chap who is obviously proud of his place. We ordered grilled octopus. While we were eating, Carlos motioned to the chef, who was walking the floor, to introduce himself. My companion told him truthfully that every time I took a bite of octopus, I sat back and smiled contentedly. He said, "On the beach in Cape Verde, if someone caught an octopus, they would bring it to me and we would grill it right there over a pit in the sand." It tasted that good. These weren't tentacles but fillets of toothsome, white meat about two fingers thick and as long as your hand. I really did taste Cape Verdean purity carried along far-reaching, Atlantic currents while I sat back, smiled and chewed. It was a slow meal. You cannot rush perfection and I didn't want these mouthfuls to end.

We eventually emptied the plate of grilled octopus. Bidding good-bye and good-night to everyone at the bar as we walked by, we made our way into the Dorchester night with satisfied stomachs and best wishes for this remarkable chef in a remarkable locale.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, Ka Carlos is a great place ... who would have thought to find it in Dorchester of all places???
Additionally to your octopus experience I can recommend the conch ... it is heavenly delicious.

Whalehead King said...

If this chef can cook a conch the way he can cook an octupus, I'm in. Thanks for the suggestion. That's what I'll have next time.

Dove Russo said...

I must say this is a great blog entry to find tonight...I'm living in Cape Verde (Porto Novo, Santo Antao) and this morning had a fisherman stop by with some fresh octopus for us. I've spent most of the day trying to figure out how to clean and cook it, hence how I stumbled onto your post. So far, it's been cleaned, beaten and now its simmering for a bit before we put it on the grill. I can only hope it tastes as amazing as the grilled octopus that we normally get from our CV friends here!


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