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.
Cooking in our Lisbon kitchen.
Steak salad balcony-side anyone?
Steak salad with fresh lemon vinaigrette made in our little kitchen.
We also cooked a lot of eggs using the local cheeses and hams. And A LOT of bread!
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.
I had one called the “Big D”, seriously. It was a basic hamburger, with a huge hunk of local cheese and a fried egg. ‘nough said.
Deric had an omelette sandwich, hmmm.. might be recreating those here in the states.
Grocery store finds:
For 5 Euros and a trip to Portugal, you too can take home a skinned, whole, ready-to-cook rabbit! Yikes! Just a normal selection in the local grocery store!
Also from the grocery store deli counter, a popular local dish, Arroz de Pato (Duck Rice) with Porco a alentejana (Pork with clams). Very tasty!
Another grocery store find: Queso Fresca… I guess it’s fresh cheese, served in yogurt-type container. It is smooth, silky, sweet; just perfect smeared on some fresh local bread.
A new favorite of ours, the local Port. Just had a shot-glass full, but it was sweet and lovely. Perfect end to a good meal.
And the melon! they have this dark green melon, that reminds me of a honey-dew melon, but so much sweeter! I tried to find its name online… and I think it’s a Christmas melon.
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!
If you look closely, you can see all the luscious layers in the crust.
The inside of this lovely confection.
We also had more ham sandwiches in Belem. Cheap, filling and yummy.
Deric had a panini style one, and mine was cold on a ciabatta-like bread.
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.
It was so good! It appeared that the dried salt cod was chopped and pan-fried with shredded potatoes and served with olives.
Deric opted for an oldie but a goody: pork chops with french fries.
For dessert he had their “apple pie”. It was more of an apple tart with raisins and a struesel topping: So good!
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!