Is it possible to summarise a city by the local dishes alone? Is it possible to go on a historical journey by fork?
We started at least one morning with a classic – a plateful of warm pasteis de nata -fresh from the oven, accompanied by a strong coffee and a twist of icing sugar or cinnamon. These infamous tarts are right in all the best ways – soft layers of crisp pastry enfolding a delicate egg custard, set just so. Rumour has it that only 3 chefs at a time have the closely guarded recipe.
There was a lunchtime lingering in the centre aisle of the Mercado da Ribeira, a collection of 35 chef led food stalls gathered in an industrial shed (I was tipped off by JessOnThames with this little jewel)…
…trying out my terrible Portuguese on a very sympathetic ear, asking for a black pork sandwich…
…followed by an intriguing passionfruit and raspberry gelato cone.
*We tried Pastéis de bacalhau, or cod cakes (often served hot or cold) are packed with a mixture of potatoes, bacalhau (codfish), eggs, parsley, and onion – apparently the Portuguese are one of the biggest cod importers in the world and have over 1,000 recipes for their favourite fish flake…
…served with Vinho Verde a ‘green wine’ that originated in the historic Minho province
in the far north of the country.*
We spent an evening drinking wine, eating bánh mì from a food truck, and grooving to the beats of Fat Freddy’s Drop blowing my tiny kiwi mind.
*A late evening snack nicknamed Romeo & Juliet – Queijo da Ilha Cow cheese from the Azores island & marmalado (quince jam), was served with taste of tawny port…
… before we sampled a taste of the Licor de Ginja (steeped with sour cherries) to a toe-tapping gypsy trio. At the end of an evening, we then visited a palatial secret restaurant known to locals and shrouded in scaffolding. It goes to show you should never judge a book by it’s cover.*
Slightly further afield, winding through the hills of Sintra (in search of the mystical Pena Palace) accidentally discovering Dona Maria (the music luring in weary travellers) another lunch was
seafood pasta heaped with crustaceans, and shared with a new friend (she
opted for baked cod) over a glass of Portuguese rosé…
…and quite the view.
Next time the almost infamous pastries of Piriquita bakery will be on our hit-list.
*Disclaimer: I was an invited guest of Inside Lisbon for a fabulous foodie tour introducing me to some of these tastes,
but my (many) opinions are only ever my own, and I would never
recommend anything that I wouldn’t happily visit whilst spending my own dime.
In the cute, cute words of our local foodie guide, Pedro, yum yum.