Portuguese food reminds me a great deal of Romanian food. It is primarily a meat and potatoes cuisine, rich in pork and seafood. Vegetables are eaten, but usually “cooked within an inch of their life”. And the seasonings are mild to say the least.
However, there is something very satisfying and comforting in the simple things. Like the ham and cheese sandwiches that I had almost daily.
Now for the picture tour:
WARNING! The following pictures are not to be viewed on an empty stomach! May cause severe growling!
Whole grilled Dorado with pickled cabbage, boiled potatoes*, green salad, and boiled carrots.
*per my tour book, fish must always be served with boiled potatoes! asking for fries might result in deportation!*
Deric had a traditional Portuguese sausage, which is a combination of various ground meats and bread (alheira)which has an interesting history. He said it was ok. The texture is very soft, almost mushy.
I also had a pastry that resembled what we Romanians call, Cremeș. Basically a puff-pastry shell with a rich fluffy custard filling… this one also had a small dollop of lemon curd in the center. Yum! Sorry, this is the only picture I have of it! It was that good!
Not pictured: A dish of boiled octopus in green sauce with boiled potatoes. Not worthy of picture. I love seafood, but even I couldn’t stomach the boiled octopus prepared by what I presume to be an amateur. Otherwise I’m sure I would’ve loved it!
In Lisbon, we rented a flat, and did some cooking of our own. And we ate it on a cafe table overlooking a small balcony on a quaint cobblestone street.. just lovely.
And I can’t refuse a gyro. On our way back from the castle in Lisbon, we passed this tiny cafe that was selling kebab sandwiches. Had to have it! It reminded me of the kebab sandwiches we had in Paris 2 years ago. This might become a tradition; to seek out the kebab sandwich in every town we visit!
On our last day in Lisbon we both had sandwiches.
Grocery store finds:
Belem is the western neighborhood of Lisbon. It is famous for its Pastel de Nata. And the best place to get one is at a local bakery, Pasteis de Belem that had been there since 1847! I even had to wait in line to get one. And it was worth it. It’s a small, tart-like dessert, with a buttery, flaky yet chewy crust, and the most creamy custard filling, so delicious!! And they were right, their Pastel de Nata was so much better than the ones we tried earlier in the week!
Sintra was a town 45 minutes away from Lisbon. The most beautiful place I saw in Portugal. I would say it was the Provence of Portugal. Just magical with its collection of castles. It was here that I sampled a bacalhau (salt-cod) dish for the first time.
And I had a piece of chocolate cake. It looked really anemic when it arrived, a pale brown; not the dark rich brown of the american chocolate cake. But when I tasted it, it was so incredibly moist, almost wet like a tres-leches cake… just chocolate. More than good!
Stay tuned for the Spain edition!