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Gelato Stop in Lisbon

September 20, 2012

Lisbon. Let’s explore this infectious city one last time, shall we?
I so favour destinations that are effortlessly cool. Lisbon draws you in with it’s elegant nonchalance. With it’s rich history and charming architecture, as well as quality restaurants and exciting bar scene, it’s pretty much my ideal destination. Oh, and it has a castle, too – a full-on, Robin Hood and his Merry Men Castle. See? Effortlessly cool.
All this exploring requires fuel, yes? How about a sweet scoop at Fragoleto Gelato? Sounds marvellous, doesn’t it. This gorgeous gelateria craft their own, quality gelato with pride. Their flavours are energetic, I thoroughly enjoyed the peach and cinnamon. We visited this shop on numerous occasions while in Lisbon and always left with greedy gelato grins.
Gelato. Lisbon. Let’s go back.
Heidi xo

Lisbon Notes

 

Length of stay: 3 days – a good amount of time.

Accommodation

: we stayed at Olissippo Castelo (great online deal) and found it to be a fabulous location (right near the castle, on the hill. All those steps encouraged a ravenous appetite, which was welcome in this delicious city).
Where we ate – see previous posts: Stumbling across Sardines, Dinner, Drinks and Dancing, Tasca da Esquina, Pasteis de Belem and Bonjardim.

Highlights

: wandering around Aflama district, Portuguese tarts at Pasteis de Belem, exploring Mosteiro dos Jeronimos, being upgraded at our hotel then surprised with a bottle of honeymoon champagne, park hopping, spontaneous sardines, cheap taxi rides (really, everything in Lisbon is cheap compared to the rest of Europe), seeing Ben have authentic piri piri chicken, morning runs with stunning city views around the castle, basil and black pepper cocktails and illegally delicious baked octopus. Yeah, there were a lot of highlights in Lisbon.

Baked Octopus Bliss in Lisbon

September 17, 2012

I ate the best octopus in my life in Lisbon. It was insane. Insane.
Pure baked octopus bliss.
I’m feeling a little giddy just thinking about it. That’s weird, I know – it’s food. Or rather, a food memory. But you see, I don’t care, I don’t. Judge me if you will, I just want more of that octopus. Although let’s be honest, you guys totally understand, don’t you? No explanation necessary. It’s a safe place here, my food blog. Thanks for that.
More on the octopus later…


Our last day in Lisbon started with a visit to Mercado da Ribeira, where we marvelled at beautiful produce and bought some fabulously fresh (and cheap – so cheap) fruit. Needless to say I devoured an entire bag of strawberries on this morning.

 

 

For the obligatory caffeine hit, Ben and I visited a bar in the market. Here we scored some tips on what to see in the area alongside our espresso.

 

 

I then satisfied my ever-growing yoghurt craving. I’m a yoghurt fan, this is true, and when travelling I always miss it a little. One week into our trip I was needing some of the good stuff. Ben wanted chocolate milk, like the 27-year-old man he is, so we visited a convenience store and stocked up. Does anyone else get get extremely excited by all the wonderful yoghurt varieties in Europe? We need to get on that here. We then wandered around the area, stumbling into shops every now and then, and just generally revelling in Lisbon’s laid-back fabulousness.

 

Lunch was at Frade dos Mares – only our most favourite restaurant stumble ever. The tapas bar around the corner we had originally planned on visiting was closed, and so we found ourselves at this slightly fancy-pants yet approachable restaurant. Here I ordered the baked octopus, their specialty. And now, back home in Melbourne, sitting on my couch, I find myself giddy at the thought of said octopus.Bread, butters, beer and Ben.

 

 

 

Octopus and rice. Heaven.

 

Salad for good measure.

 

Looking (a little too) lovingly at our waiter as he spoke to me about my baked octopus, on a bed of roasted baby potatoes with crisp roasted garlic and a generous amount of olive oil. Seriously, can you blame me? Look at it, it’s stunning…

 

 

Let’s all take a moment, shall we?

*sigh*

One more Lisbon post to go, then we’re onto Paris. Although I adored reflecting on our time in Lisbon, and cannot wait to visit this engaging city again (and eat more baked octopus, of course), I am awfully excited for our little Parisian affair.

Heidi xo

Stumbling across Sardines

September 14, 2012

Sardines. They’re terribly ugly little fellows, but boy are they scrumptious. And nutritious too, giving you a beautiful hit of valuable omega 3 fatty acids. Thanks for that, my funky little friends…too familiar? Sorry about that. It’s just that I’m relatively new to the sardine party, so I’m a little enamoured. For those of you who cannot move past their blatant, bold fishiness, trust me, I was once like you. But push through, looks aren’t everything. I dearly believe you will one day fall in love with sardines.

While in Lisbon we were treated to some truly delicious seafood, including a lovely big plate of sardines one sunny Wednesday. I’d like to share those beauties with you today…

Ben and I stumbled across a little gem of a place after our initial lunch-spot fell through. In fact many restaurants in Lisbon were randomly closed, and while initially frustrating, this allowed for spontaneous dining experiences, which happened to result in some of the best meals we ate on our entire trip. Our lunch at Churrasqueira O Cofre is an example of this.

We were greeted with the aroma of an eager grill, as rows of hungry diners satisfying their lunch-time appetites. Peering inside, we spotted a long table filled with elderly men engaged in a raucous lunch gathering. Wine glasses, broken bread and the remnants of a well-enjoyed meal were strewn across the table…we knew we had to eat here. It was fate. In my opinion, when it comes to food, you can always trust elderly european men – they sure know their sardines.

Ben and I devoured plates of fresh, grilled sardines and another fleshy fillet – simple, clean perfection, served with boiled, buttered potatoes and a basic salad. There was also bread, soft, lovely bread.

 

 

 

It was a completely unpretentious and completely perfect meal. Oh how I’m pleased we stumbled across these sardines. Simple seafood perfection.

 

We then visited Jardim da Estrela and spent some time lying on the grass. Reading in the park…one of life’s true pleasures. Along with sardines, of course.
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Heidi xo

Tasca da Esquina

September 8, 2012

After Ben surprised me on our wedding day with an outrageously sweet serenade of “My Girl”, I kind of felt like I owed him one on our honeymoon. I felt that publicly serenading him on the plane may be a little less Wedding Singer-style success and a little more, “lady, please sit back down in your seat and refrain from whatever it is you’re trying to do”. So I thought I’d stick with what I knew best to treat Ben. Feeding him.After a little research online into deliciousness, I booked us a table at Tasca da Esquina for our first night in Lisbon. I really felt like I’d tapped into a local gem once we’d taken our seats and glanced over the menu. I may or may not have cheers’d myself when we were poured the first of many sleek drops. I knew I had done good. And I didn’t even have to sing.

The atmosphere at Tasca da Esquina is clean, classy and chilled, with a few jazzed up elements here and there. The waiters are all very friendly and much cooler than I, working their long khaki aprons and crisp shirts like it was nobody’s business. They were also super accommodating to our language barrier. In fact we participated in a little food translation exercise, which I loved. Compared to other European cities Lisbon is not overflowing with tourists, and although most young people spoke very good English, I think Ben and I were somewhat of a novelty.

We participated in a seven course feast of small, exciting, colourful plates. After the fourth course we shared our serves, as suggested by our waiter. It was a truly great meal. And although I’m very aware that I will never be able to match the brilliance of Ben’s surprise serenade, I feel I came kind of close with some crazy good tuna and pork with mushrooms.

Let’s starts at the beginning…

with cheese, olives and bread, naturally.

Over the course of the night, Ben and I tasted many Portuguese wines, and enjoyed every drop.

Chilled melon soup, a lovely way to start the meal. I would never think to make this at home, ever, so it was a real treat. Summer in a bowl, if you will.

Crab salad with homemade crispbread. Lovely.

Little crisp prawn dumplings with a stunning herb drizzle.

Eggy noodles (essentially fried omelette strips) in a rich, buttery sauce. Ultimate comfort food.

Tuna steak with broad beans. Broad beans are a favourite ingredient of mine, and so I was thrilled when these beauties showed up. This dish was pure divinity, everything about it was stellar.

Pork belly with sautéed mushrooms. These mushrooms were absurdly good. Yes, it was absolutely absurd how delicious they were. Usually I’m not a huge fan of pork belly, due to that imposing fat layer inhibiting my personal enjoyment of the meat. But this piece was cooked perfectly, and that fat layer slid right off allowing me to dive into the meat unabashedly.

Cheese with candied walnut crumbles and pumpkin jam. We were getting a little/a lot full at this point, so we only picked at this sweet little plate. I love the idea of a pumpkin jam, although the flavour was a little too subtle for my liking.

And to finish, a little dessert trio: chocolate mousse, creme brûlée and almond foam. A nice sweet bite to end a beautiful meal. I particularly enjoyed the foam (and usually I’m not that impressed with foam – come on people, enough with the foam). But yes, this was a lovely foam, I must admit. Anything almond I tend to adore.

I very much recommend visiting Tasca da Esquina for a meal when in Lisbon. It’s a little bit fancy and more modern than your traditional fare, and it’s darn delicious. And you won’t have to sing on any aeroplanes to impress your love.

Heidi xo

Pastéis de Belém and Lisbon Love

September 4, 2012

When in Lisbon on our honeymoon, I discovered something rather delicious. Something delicate and dreamy. A beautiful bite. Well, I’ll tell you the truth…I didn’t truly discover it. Monks did. Or rather, they created these bites. And then the world discovered them.

So I may be a little late to the party, but this does not make my discovery any less significant. Or less delicious.

The delicate beauties I speek of are Pastéis de Belém, otherwise known as Pastéis de Nata, otherwise known as Portuguese tarts. I was not familiar with these lovelies prior to visiting Lisbon. Oh yes, I had eaten a few dan tats at yum cha in my time, but they’re not the same. Dan Tats are, in my opinion, rather disgusting. Moving on…

There really is only one place to taste Portuguese tarts in Lisbon, and that is the famed Pastéis de Belém. This shop has been making and selling their heavenly tarts since 1837, and the recipe remains unchanged. Why mess with historic perfection?



The base of these tarts are insanely crisp…


…with deliriously flaky pastry layers encasing a light, sweet custard puddle. They were, without a doubt, one of the most delicious, most glorious, favoured bites I have ever eaten. Ben agreed. And then promptly ate three.



Next door to is a stunning Monastery, which we explored before losing ourselves in the city for the rest of the day.


A little Lisbon love for you right now…

 

Oh, and cocktails seem to cost only a few euro in Lisbon. Yes, please. Until next time… I’m off to mix myself a drink and reminisce about those tarts.

Those. Tarts.

Heidi xo

Bonjardim for Benjamin

August 31, 2012

And so the honeymoon continues. We moved from Istanbul, Turkey to Lisbon, Portugal. Otherwise known as Ben’s motherland. Well, that’s what he claims anyway – Ben is 1/8th Portuguese. Really he just likes Piri Piri Chicken, let’s be real.

So what did I plan the day we arrived in hot, hilly, happening Lisbon? A visit to the spot for classic roast chicken. Piri piri sauce was obligatory. I’m a good wife.

 

It was a late lunch by the time we took our outdoor seats at Bonjardim, and so the gigantic plate of chicken and chips (served to us by a rather cheeky waiter) went down a real treat. The chicken was wonderfully tender, with a lovely crisp skin. These guys certainly know how to cook a bird. Their chips were plainly perfect – the ones pulled from under where the chicken was nesting were illegally delicious, after soaking up all the hot, juicy, seasoned goodness. Oh man.

Our chilled bottle of wine also went down a real treat *enter strolling around the city in a sun-dazed, late afternoon, wine-kissed haze*.

Salad, for good measure.

The piri piri sauce was essentially a spiced oil. It was hot. Hot as though a fire was storming from somewhere very deep inside you – albeit a tasty, seasoned fire, which was very welcomed on roasted chicken meat. It was fabulous. We dipped and applied to our chicken as desired. And we desired a lot of piri piri.

Ben charmed his way to the back of the restaurant to check out the rotisserie. Clearly he felt at home.

Our piri piri experience was a very good predictor for the perfect three days we spent in Portugal. In essence, relaxed fabulousness.
It was a brief visit, but we fell hard and fast for this spectacular city. I look forward to sharing all the wonderful sights and scrumptious bites we encountered over the next few posts.
Lisbon. It’s where it’s at.

 

Heidi xo