Portugal 2019

Another reflection on a trip that inspires some of my recipes like Portuguese Pork and Clams

Our trip to Portugal in 2019 was short but sweet. We arrived in Lisbon staying in an air bnb apartment in the buzzy neighbourhood of Bairro Alto, soaking up the local vibe.

On our first night we has dinner at Belcanto …a two Michelin star restaurant by famous Portuguese chef Jose Avillez. It was definitely one of the best dinners we ever enjoyed….the friendly and funny staff, the atmosphere and brilliant food. Truly a night to remember. Here’s the link to my review of the full experience. Belcanto Lisbon Review

Belcanto, Lisbon

Lisbon is a foodie paradise with so many unique taste sensations to explore and the Time Out Markets are a great place to nibble your way through local delicacies and to try out menus from top restaurants in a more casual way. We went to the markets on a few occasions buying a few goodies to take home and also trying out a few of the restaurants. One of these was Chef Kiko Martin’s restaurants O’Surf and Turf…..quite experimental and very interesting seafood and meat combinations.here’s the link to my original story Time Out Markets Lisbon We also had a delicious breakfast and coffee at Fabrica Cafe

Time Out Markets and Fabrica, Lisbon

Of course any trip to LIsbon would not be complete without visiting the home of Portuguese tarts down at Belem. We caught the tram from just near the Time Out Markets enjoying the trip through the suburbs of Lisbon down to the old fort town. We were amazed by the queue for the tarts and opted for exploring the town and fort in the morning, returning to Pasteis de Belem, the historic cafe started by the nearby monks to sell their famed tarts. They certainly lived up to their reputation and after our very hot walk, we enjoyed them with an icy cold Sagres!

Pasteis de Belem, home of Portuguese tarts

Our other days in Lisbon were spent exploring Castel San Jorge, churches, parks, the harbour and experiencing the glamour of bars in Palazzos, Fado and the food of traditional tabernas. As we were staying at the top of the hill in Bairro Alto trips on the finicular and trams were a practical form of getting around. One of the excellent late dinners we had was at Taberna Da Rua Flores amd we enjoyed a very different lunch of Mozambican food at Roda Vida in the colourful Alfama district.

Lisbon sights and taste sensations
Evenings in Lisbon 2019
Fado in Lisbon

From Lisbon we headed to Cascais on the coast for a ver special stay at the Hotel Albatroz. Our visit to Cascais which is only about a 40 minute drive from Lisbon was so relaxing and revitalising but also gave us an insight into the coastal lifestyle and vibe. I wrote about our time there in this post Cascais Being there at the end of the summer season meant it was busy but not overcrowded and we got to enjoy a wonderful free outdoor pop concert featuring Fernando Daniel,the winner of The Voice Portugal! Dancing with the crowd of mainly locals going crazy was so much fun!

Fernando Daniel concert!
Coastal cuisine and colour

In Cascais we tried and loved Azeitao cheese, a sublimely soft and gooey sheep’s milk cheese that I have yet to find in Australia…but writing this has reminded me to find it for our next cheese adventure!

Here’s a link to the story behind the cheese Azeitao Cheese

We also enjoyed lots of relaxed lunches and dinners at places like Cantinho de Avillez, a local Taberna and at the Hotel Albatroz restaurant.

Cascais was a real highlight and a relaxing, fun wind-down spot on our 5 week trip before we went on to Morocco. Would love to go back someday.

Sublime seaside style #hotelalbatroz #cascais #portugal

Still dreaming about sunny days and relaxing by the pool at the beautifully restored and decorated Hotel Albatroz in Cascais.

We spent 4 days in this lovely seaside town on the Atlantic Coast enjoying fresh seafood, the quaint shops and even a pop concert by the beach.

The Hotel Albaztroz is right on the Atlantic Ocean, so the views are stunning. Being on a point, it is away from the main hustle and bustle of this popular coastal town, but the sounds of laughter and people enjoying the beach drifts up through the windows creating a happy and idyllic air to the place.

According to their website: The Albatroz Hotel started in the ’60s when it opened for the first time with the name ‘Estalagem Albatroz’ in 1963. Revamped and enlarged during 18 months in 1982, Duke of Loule Palace (the main building), also known as “the box of almonds”, was built in 1873 and was home to several royal families.

We stayed in an upstairs room in the original Place Building accessed by an old school lift. The room with it’s porthole windows overlooking the beach was reminiscent of staying on a ship. Luxurious bedding, and divine but eclectic interior decorations add to the feeling of luxury and elegance.

The food from the restaurant for breakfast, lunch and dinners on the terrace, by the pool or in the dining room overlooking the sea was all really good, making it difficult to tear oneself away to explore restaurants and bars in the town…although we did that as well and enjoyed it greatly.

The restaurant in it’s own right is very worth a visit with beautiful salads, club sandwiches, fresh seafood and a good wine list.

We also enjoyed long walks along the sea to Estoril and the other way to the Lighthouse. The weather was perfect and whilst there were many tourists it was relaxed and very enjoyable.

Cascais is a great escape by the sea, only 30 minutes from the centre of Lisbon. We just caught an Uber down and then back to Lisbon airport. A lovely way to chill out on the coast without having to travel too far.

Roda Viva rocks Mozambique flavours #alfama #mozambique #lisbon

Feeling a bit miserable today with a cold and dreaming about sunny Lisbon and the fantastic foods and flavours we experienced on our recent visit there.

One of our eating adventures involved finding the atmospheric Mozambican restaurant Roda Viva in a small alleyway in Beco do Mexias 11 In The Alfama.

We had visited Castelo de Sao Jorge earlier that morning enjoying stunning views across Lisbon and soaking up the history of the 11th century castle and then walked down to Beco de Mexias through winding cobblestone backstreets of Alfama. Walking down was. A great way to get a close up look at the ancient houses, trendy artisan shops and restaurants, but we definitely needed Google maps to guide us to our destination as it would be very easy to get lost in the labyrinth of streets around here.

We were warmly welcomed into the tiny narrow restaurant by the waiter/chef Octavio Chamba, a Mozambican chef and anthropologist with a passion for percussion who moved to Lisbon 10 years ago to study ethnomusicology.

We settled in and immediately ordered icy cold Mozambique 2M Mac-Mahon beer to quench our thirst after the hot walk.

Mozambique was an important strategic colony of Portugal’s acting as a layover post for Portuguese explorers on their way to India and the Far East. There is a small population of Mozambican expats but quite a few well known restaurants serving the fusion African eastern food.

We ordered traditional Capucha stew with a mixture of beef, pork, chicken sweet corn and beans and their famous crab curry which came with a hot chilli sauce on the side and rice. The meal was different and delicious. (It is the crab curry that I would like right now to fix this cold!!)

The restaurant is decorated with straw hats and traditional Mozambican fabrics and the service was warm and friendly.

A great stopover during our exploration of Lisbon and a nice way to connect with the Portuguese history of colonisation, exploration and voyaging. We continued our walk to the Port and beyond.

Traditional fare with style @ La Taberna Das Rua Flores #lisbon

We were staying in Bairro Alto in Lisbon which is now a pretty touristy part of town, but peppered with lots of great bars and restaurants.

I had read that Taberna Da Rua Das Flores was a small but very popular restaurant serving traditional Portuguese fare in an atmospheric narrow terrace just near Lago Chiado. We arrived about 9.30pm and put our names down for the first available table which we were told would be about an hour later. When in Lisbon, plan to eat late!!

We wandered over the road to Palacio Chiado, a fabulous restaurant and bar in a converted palace. We ate freshly shucked oysters and had a few drinks as a pre-cursor to dinner.

When we wandered back over to the Taberna, we were invited to sit on the stairs inside and contemplate the blackboard menu with the daily specials all written in Portuguese while we waited another 15 minutes or so for our table. Even though it was about 10.45pm by now the restaurant was still hopping.

The waiter helped us understand the menu and we ordered grilled prawns, the tomato salad featuring multiple different types of delicious tomatoes and pork with onions and coriander.

Dinner kicked off in traditional style with bread and olives and we ordered a bottle of Vale Da Capucha Fossil 2016 organic red wine. Vale Da Capucha is a winery on the Atlantic coast near Lisbon. It was very nice.

In fact the entire dinner was lovely and we really felt like we had experienced a traditional Portuguese Taberna. See below the description of the restaurant with more details from the Lisboa Cool website.

And with the bill, came 2 complimentary glasses of Ginja, Portuguese cherry liquer to apologise for the lengthy wait! They had apparently unfortunately run out of the chocolate cups that the liquer is served in but it was delicious anyway.

(From Wikipedia: Ginjinha or simply Ginja, is a Portuguese liqueur made by infusing ginja berries (sour cherry, Prunus cerasus austera, the Morello cherry) in alcohol (aguardente is used) and adding sugar together with other ingredients.)

“The decor is reminiscent of old taverns and the menu, which is surprisingly presented to each table on a giant blackboard, displays the daily dishes/snacks. The selection refers to snacks of yesterday, genuinely Portuguese, from the north to the south of the country, covering our most typical food, but with a very simple contemporary twist.

The house wine is served in low glasses, the lemonade according to Portuguese tradition, and the snacks are always split up, after all, the Portuguese like to share! 

The highlight goes to the clams, very tasty, as well as the fresh tuna in sesame, topped off with a chocolate mousse with cherry and liquor dessert, which together, makes a great combination. Never count on the same dish: dishes are made with whatever is fresh that day, and are generally guided by the chef’s taste and inspiration.

Here you can only pay in cash, so forget the credit card, just like in old Lisbon!” From Lisboa Cool website

O’ Surf and Turf #timeoutmarkets #lisbon

There are mixed reviews of O’Surf and Turf, Famous Portuguese chef Kiko Martins’ Time Out Market restaurant in Lisbon, where he combines meat and seafood in innovative recipes.

However, we thought the opportunity to try his food without the fuss of organising a booking or the expense of his most famous restaurant A Cevercheria at this informal restaurant was a good one and it certainly worked out that way. It was also fun to soak in the busy, buzzy atmosphere of the markets and watch the chefs at work by sitting inside at the bar for lunch.

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Whilst I admittedly have had better prawns in garlic sauce that we shared as a starter, the other dishes and the bread and snacks were excellent.

The toasted corn kernels and the dips served with the bread, including the soft egg with Paprika was interesting to kick off the meal.

The cod served on a bed of chestnut purée was a fabulous combination of sweet and salty, and the roasted octopus with a smoky paprika sauce and sago flavoured with black squid ink was delicious.

Probably not the place for those looking for more traditional Portuguese fare but definitely a great place to sample some of the emerging and exciting foodie scene in Lisbon.

Fabrica #coffee #breakfast #Lisbon

Stumbled on Fabrica in Rue Das Flores in Lisbon when we were looking for good coffee and breakfast in Bairro Alto quarter in Lisbon.

The aroma of coffee brewing drew us into this very hip, urban cafe, with what I would describe as a mix of organic and industrial interior design, not knowing that the coffee is all grown and roasted in Portugal.

According to their website which I looked up later:

“Fabrica was created with the strong belief that it’s time for Portugal to get to know genuine specialty coffee. Independent from the root, our family’s goal was to establish a unique coffee experience by being involved in every step of production. By forming direct trade partnerships with farmers, roasting on site in Lisbon, and offering a variety of extraction methods, we deliver a remarkable final product to your cup.”

And our experience lived up to this claim. Great coffee, friendly service and a delicious and simple breakfast menu. Just the light breakfast we were looking for after our wonderful Michelin Star restaurant experience at Bel Canto the night before.

Apparently, they now have three locations in both Lisbon and Porto and offer an international subscription service for all of their home-roasted beans. https://www.fabricacoffeeroasters.com/en/about-us/