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Lisbon, Belem, Évora, Sintra Portugal

Lisbon, Belem, Évora, Sintra Portugal
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  • Lisbon, Belem, Évora, Sintra Portugal

    Post #1 - August 12th, 2013, 8:23 am
    Post #1 - August 12th, 2013, 8:23 am Post #1 - August 12th, 2013, 8:23 am
    SueF and I just returned from ten days in Lisbon and environs, chosen as sort of a whim for our 30th anniversary -- neither of us speak Portuguese, although I got through the first few dozen lessons in a very nice free app called Duolingo.*

    SueF is putting together a full online gallery of the places we visited, but I wanted to focus on the food.

    We were not terribly gluttonous: We don't tend to have a full lunch anywhere, and with the hotel's decent breakfast (continental plus scrambled eggs and some horrific vienna sausages), we mostly have dinner reports. Other cities in Europe, we'd pick up a baguette and some cheese or charcuterie. While cheese (queijo) and chouriço are easy to find, we didn't see much in the way of delis that could make a sandwich on a baguette -- lots of toast mixte (boiled-ham and cheese sandwiches), and chicken and egg salad on premade sandwiches, and while there is a pastelerie on almost every corner, finding a loaf of peasant bread or baguette was hard (except in a supermarket, as it turns out).

    Eating early as Americans do, it made it easier to get into restaurants just walking in or with reservations -- several places we were among the first in the door at 7:30, and the place would be packed by the time we finished.

    To a large degree, we stuck to local fare: Alentejano (which was translated as "beyond the Tejo (river)") cuisine has a lot of fish, grilled meats, garlic, cilantro and olive oil. We did break out and have Italian one night, because the place was highly recommended, and Goan (since it's a former Portuguese colony). We tried to get in an African place that turned out to be closed for August (that happened several times), but never got around to Brazillian or Macanese, to round out the Portuguese colonies.

    My biggest gripe is paying for water: 1-1.7€ for a 300ml bottle is highway robbery. If asking for tap water was an option, I couldn't figure it out. On the other hand, Douro and other Portuguese table wines are very drinkable... I just don't drink much.

    On the other hand, transportation is easy: There are four subway (Metro) lines and a fistful of trams (Eléctricos), and lots of busses. Our hotel was a block from two Metro stops, and we could be pretty much anywhere in Lisbon in 20-30 minutes, assuming we caught things at the right time (Getting back always seemed to take longer). For 6€, you can get a 24-hour pass to all the transport system, including a couple funiculars and an elevator that ascend steep hills near the Bairra Alta district.

    FRIDAY AUGUST 2

    As always, we arrive in Europe in a haze of not enough sleep and six or so hours off our schedule. We wandered around town for a while, and when we decided we were hungry we happened to be in front of a touristy place serving the Portuguese equivalent of tapas, called petiscos. They had a 28€ deal for two which offered olives, fruit, cheese, charcuterie, grilled sausages, potatoes with mayo, a tomato and cheese salad. Nothing spectacular, but the cheeses were very nice, including a semi-soft sharp cheese called serpa (pronounced "sherpa"), and a fresh cheese with pumpkin puree. The grilled sausages included chouriço and morcela, a blood sausage very similar (not surprisingly) to Spanish morcilla.

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    20130802 01 Largo Trinidade
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    20130802 02 Cold Petiscos
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    20130802 03 Sausages and Potatoes

    Gallassa Café
    Rua Trindade 36-B
    1200-468 Lisboa
    Portugal
    +351 913 271 977

    * It unfortunately teaches Brazilian pronunciation, which is somewhat different from European Portuguese, and spends too much time on not terribly useful vocabulary items such as watches and pineapples.
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #2 - August 14th, 2013, 10:44 am
    Post #2 - August 14th, 2013, 10:44 am Post #2 - August 14th, 2013, 10:44 am
    SATURDAY AUGUST 3

    This was our first real tourism day, starting with exploring the Thieves Market in the Alfama neighborhood (Tuesdays and Saturdays, starting near the National Pantheon). Highly recommended if you're a collector of audio on Vinyl, Portuguese tile, and tube socks. It reminded me a lot of Maxwell Street, minus the food vendors. In fact, Lisbon does not appear to have a street food scene: food isn't sold from trucks or carts, or even shop windows (the lone exception being prepackaged ice cream in tourist locations). In fact, walking around with food appears to be unusual -- even a little gelateria would have a bunch of tables with umbrellas outside, where you're expected to sit for a while.

    We'd been recommended to try Espaço Lisboa Assadores de Alcântara in the western part of the city. Being early eaters, we figured we'd just walk in and get a table at 7:30. This was our first encounter with holliday season. Closed for all of August. It wouldn't be the last. So we hopped back on the tram and went downtown, trying to figure out where to eat. We were somewhat concerned about eating in the downtown touristy district, but the guidebook suggested Muni, and it turned out to be pretty darn good. Due to the high level of foot traffic (half of the Baixa roads running north-south are closed to vehicular traffic), and large number of restaurants, there's a lot of shills out trying to draw you in, which always makes me skeptical, but we lucked out on this one (not so much the next night, see below). The shills also extend to street performers, sellers of jewelery, flowers and other gewgaws, and entertainers. It can get a little much, but the cool evenings of Lisbon made it worth eating in the street seating (and a few places, the vendors walked into the restaurants too).

    We split a shrimp empada (empanada), and a tomato soup. Neither were special, but it was a trend of eating a lot of soup. Gotta get your hydration somewhere, when you're paying for water. Sue had some very good lamb chops, and I had bacalhao a Minhota, which is a sauteed piece of cod with raw onions, grated boiled egg and olives. While I thought I'd ordered the grilled cod with garlic, I was very pleased with what I got, lots of flavor and succulent fish. The homemade chips with this were terrific, it made us wonder why Sue's dish came with food service fries (we saw a lot of fried potatoes this week).

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    20130803 02 Muni Bacalhão
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    20130803 01 Muni Lamb
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    20130803 03 Soup and Pie

    O Muni
    Rua Correeiros 115
    1100-163 Lisboa
    Portugal
    (no phone or web that I can find)

    SUNDAY AUGUST 4

    Sunday was more exploring, including the old Castelo, which my sons would have loved when they were under 10, as it's a classic crenelated castle with arrow slits and stairs everywhere. Highlight there is the camera obscura/periscope, which gives you a moving image of pretty much the entire city, all from natural light and hand-turned mirrors, with the focus adjusted by raising and lowering the viewing platform/screen.

    We ended up downtown again after yet another restaurant ended up closed for August (a Goan place called Zuari). Twice bitten, we swore we'd get reservations everywhere from now on, and the Lisbon City Hotel staff was extremely friendly and helpful.

    However, our second attempt at fallback in Baixa turned out to be a mistake. We had a tasty garlic soup (sopa Alentejana), with raw egg, bread and cilantro, but we had better soups later in the week. Our entrees turned out to be pretty bad though: Sue's Piri-Piri chicken wasn't crispy, and had none of the expected spice, until a bottle of Piri-Piri sauce was requested. I used the same sauce to enhance my tasteless Porco Alentejano -- the famed sauteed pork with clams, but this had no sauce, just tough cubes of pork with a few clams. Food service fries didn't enhance the dish.

    The pictures below also include a staple of Lisbon dining that we were forewarned about: appetizers brought out whether you ask for them or not, and you're charged if you eat them -- they're usually listed as "couvert" on the menu so if you're savvy, you'll know what you're getting into. That includes the bread and butter (butter is usually more expensive than the bread, 0.40-0.70€ for a slice to a small loaf of pão salolio, with the manteiga averaging 0.80€), little butter-like tubs of tuna or sardine spread, fresh cheese, ham or chouriço, and fried crouquettes or empadas. You have no idea of they've been handled by previous customers, and we avoided most of them except for a bit of bread and butter here and there.

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    20130804 02 Joel and Wine
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    20130804 01 Couvert
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    20130804 03 Garlic Soup
    Restaurante João do Grão
    Rua dos Correeiros 222
    1100 Lisboa
    Portugal
    +351 21 342 4757
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #3 - August 14th, 2013, 11:29 am
    Post #3 - August 14th, 2013, 11:29 am Post #3 - August 14th, 2013, 11:29 am
    Enjoying this read, Joel. Even the "misses" are especially helpful. I do feel for you with the August shutouts. This has happened to me on several August trips to France. But the "couvert" items are new to me. How odd! I'm wondering whether any of the restaurant staff were less than gracious when you rejected them.

    I await you further reports- and your wife's photos. Thanks for taking the time to write this up.

    And, for a Portuguese vacation without jet-lag, may I suggest that you visit New England, especially Fall River, MA for your next Portuguese fix? You can head to Cape Cod for the water afterward.
    Man : I can't understand how a poet like you can eat that stuff.
    T. S. Eliot: Ah, but you're not a poet.
  • Post #4 - August 14th, 2013, 1:03 pm
    Post #4 - August 14th, 2013, 1:03 pm Post #4 - August 14th, 2013, 1:03 pm
    Did you get a "Bom Apechichi" when your meal arrived?
  • Post #5 - August 14th, 2013, 2:50 pm
    Post #5 - August 14th, 2013, 2:50 pm Post #5 - August 14th, 2013, 2:50 pm
    Josephine wrote:Enjoying this read, Joel. Even the "misses" are especially helpful. I do feel for you with the August shutouts. This has happened to me on several August trips to France. But the "couvert" items are new to me. How odd! I'm wondering whether any of the restaurant staff were less than gracious when you rejected them.

    Not at all -- it's apparently standard. If it's on the table and you ignore it, you aren't charged for it (but I was advised to read the bill carefully).
    Josephine wrote:And, for a Portuguese vacation without jet-lag, may I suggest that you visit New England, especially Fall River, MA for your next Portuguese fix? You can head to Cape Cod for the water afterward.

    I've also been told that Newark has a big Portuguese community and good restaurants, and while the company I work for has its offices in Jersey, I try to spend as little time in Newark as I can -- least favorite airport in the world (although my opinion is slightly higher now that United flights to Newark land at the newer ex-Continental terminal).
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #6 - August 14th, 2013, 2:52 pm
    Post #6 - August 14th, 2013, 2:52 pm Post #6 - August 14th, 2013, 2:52 pm
    Tyrgyzistan wrote:Did you get a "Bom Apechichi" when your meal arrived?

    Hmm, no never! Was I supposed to?
    I did notice that "obrigado" is almost religiously followed by "de nada," as if that obligation I've sworn to must be instantly discharged.

    ...and did you know that the Japanese "arigato" is derived from the Portuguese "obrigado?"
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #7 - August 14th, 2013, 3:32 pm
    Post #7 - August 14th, 2013, 3:32 pm Post #7 - August 14th, 2013, 3:32 pm
    MONDAY AUGUST 5

    Monday, we headed out to Belém, only to find that virtually all the tourist attractions are closed on Monday. There's a lot of walking around to get from one to the next, so it took a while to find out they were all closed (the guidebook kept telling us things were open). The one particular tourist attraction that was open was Pastéis de Belém, the originator (in 1837!) of the pastry of the same name, also called pastél de nata (nata meaning cream) elsewhere in Lisbon. I'd already mentioned that pastries are everywhere, and we'd grabbed a couple pasteis de nata elsewhere in town, without being too impressed: yeah, a custard in a pastry shell, so what?

    With the original? OMFG, that's what. We stood in line for a couple of these when we got to Belém, then another bunch on our way back out. Then more when we returned to Belém on Wednesday.

    The original has a phyllo-like crust that shatters when bitten into, and the filling is eggier, yet lighter. And they're served warm.
    Some research on the recipe (of which there are many conflicting ones all claiming to be the original) has some with more yolks and milk, and others with whole eggs and cream. Sue believes that the former is more likely to be true, and I trust her pastry-fu. Expect to see some experiments at a future Dessert Exchange. There are variations on these pastries all around Lisbon, with almond, cheese and other fillings (Sintra is known for Queijadas, a cheese-based one), but don't miss the original.

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    20130805 01 Pastel de Belem

    Pastéis de Belém
    Rua Belém 84-92
    1300-085 Lisboa
    Portugal
    +351 21 363 7423
    http://pasteisdebelem.pt

    A couple doors down is a well-known middle-eastern lunch spot that we were advised not to miss. It was pretty good, but no better than Naf Naf or Pita Inn (although a much bigger menu). We split a chawarma ('ch' is pronounced as English 'sh', as are most 's'es), and a chicken and cabbage soup that I enjoyed but wasn't to Sue's tastes. The meat in the chawarma was rather light in color. Does that mean it's all lamb? Or perhaps turkey? Lots of good crunchy veggies in the sandwich, and lots of tahina sauce. Sorry for the mostly-eaten photo.

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    20130805 02 Chawarma

    Pão Pão Queijo Queijo
    Rua Belém 126
    1300
    Portugal
    +351 21 362 6369

    Dinner was at our second attempt at Goan food: the humorously (for English speakers) Tentações De Goa. Of course the 'ç' is pronounced as an 's', and the word means "Temptations" not "Tentacles," but it's still fun. The restaurant is in what looks like a back alley that was awfully seedy, just the other side of the buildings fronting the Praça Martim Moníz. It's worth seeking out. The crisp shrimp samosas were fantastic with a mint chutney, the ampas (sp?) -- a thin flatbread -- delicious, and the curries very tasty with a moderate level of heat (good thing, with water as expensive as it is). The chicken and prawn curries ended up tasting rather similar (they look more different in the pictures below due to two different cameras) -- we'd wanted pork vindaloo, but they were out of it that night.

    Oh, and the plaza (named after the knight who helped in the conquest over the Moors by throwing his body in the gates to stop them from closing) is the only place we saw with anything like food stands (many of which sold only drinks), but even they had a permanent look to them, with ample seating set up under awnings. We were never there at lunch time, but I expect it would be crowded then. Or perhaps late at night -- there was a DJ booth there.

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    20130805 03 Samosa Camarao
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    20130805 05 Ampas
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    20130805 06 Goan Chicken
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    20130805 07 Prawn Curry

    Restaurante Tentações De Goa
    Rua São Pedro Mártir 23
    1100
    Portugal
    +351 21 887 5824
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #8 - August 14th, 2013, 5:16 pm
    Post #8 - August 14th, 2013, 5:16 pm Post #8 - August 14th, 2013, 5:16 pm
    JoelF wrote:The original has a phyllo-like crust that shatters when bitten into, and the filling is eggier, yet lighter. And they're served warm.
    Some research on the recipe (of which there are many conflicting ones all claiming to be the original) has some with more yolks and milk, and others with whole eggs and cream. Sue believes that the former is more likely to be true, and I trust her pastry-fu. Expect to see some experiments at a future Dessert Exchange. There are variations on these pastries all around Lisbon, with almond, cheese and other fillings (Sintra is known for Queijadas, a cheese-based one), but don't miss the original.

    Image


    I became addicted to these at the St. Lawrence Market in Toronto, and just yesterday I visited Bad Wolf Coffee for the first time and they were being given out as samples while a coffee cupping was taking place. I asked if they would become a regular item and I think they are being considered, so when you get the Jones for one (or more) of them, Bad Wolf might be a great local source.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #9 - August 15th, 2013, 10:07 am
    Post #9 - August 15th, 2013, 10:07 am Post #9 - August 15th, 2013, 10:07 am
    TUESDAY AUGUST 6
    Tuesday was beach day -- a trip down to Caparica. Gorgeous beaches, with a little cafe every couple hundred yards, all serving the same stuff it seemed. We had brought some cheese and sausage with us, supplemented with the ubiquitous Olá (Heartbrand) Ice Cream.

    We decided after several days of Portuguese, to try something different. Casanova, just off the Santa Appolonia Metro stop, and facing the river (if it wasn't for the container ship blocking the view), is a trendy Italian spot, making wonderful food. The kitchen is glass-fronted and you can see them working on the pizzas and the wood-fired oven. Nice industrial chic on the inside, and a patio garden out back.

    We started with fried olives and a pear and parmeggiano salad. The olives were stuffed with meat, very tasty. The salad was a bit of a surprise. I expected a salad with pear and parm, what we got was a salad of pear and parm! Great stuff, but a little greenery was what we were looking for. We continued with a super-thin pizza of prosciutto (San Daniele) and button mushrooms (I missed the one with tartufo on the menu, I'd have probably ordered that, based on how wonderful it smelled when it arrived at the table next to ours). We felt like we needed one more dish, so ordered the carbonara, which was surprisingly done with rigatoni, but it was richly eggy with great cheese flavor and crisp lardons of bacon (not sure if it was pancetta or not). We should have stopped there, or skipped that dish, because the dessert put us over the top: The ricotta and honey 'focaccia' wasn't what we'd call focaccia, but a fresh-fired pizza crust shmeared with ricotta and drizzled with honey. Fantastic. Prices are reasonable, and get there early because they definitely fill up fast.

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    20130806 02 Stuff Olives
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    20130806 01 Pear and Parm
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    20130806 03 Pizza
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    20130806 03b Sue and Pizza (somewhat sunburnt)
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    20130806 04 Carbonara
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    20130806 05 Dessert Focaccia

    Pizzeria Casanova
    Avenida Infante Dom Henrique Loja 7
    1900-264 Lisboa
    Portugal
    +351 21 887 7532

    Somewhere along the line, though, I picked up a bug: the next day and a half I spent with a mild fever, fatigue and stomach issues. I blame the sausage we took to Caparica, but it's hard to tell. The fact that it went away in 24 hours would seem to indicate a virus, but the fact that Sue didn't catch it would add creedence to the food poisoning theory. It detracted from the next day pretty severely, though: I ate very little, and saved myself for our anniversary dinner, yet still stayed away from the wine.
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #10 - August 15th, 2013, 12:17 pm
    Post #10 - August 15th, 2013, 12:17 pm Post #10 - August 15th, 2013, 12:17 pm
    WEDNESDAY AUGUST 7
    OK, this is the big one - our 30th anniversary dinner at Michelin-starred "Eleven."
    But first, back to Belém for our missed tourist opportunities from Wednesday... and more custard tarts. Note: The Tour de Belém is not for the claustrophobic: narrow stairs with too many people trapped Sue on the top floor for about an hour (I decided not to climb, still recovering from my bug). The Cloister at the Jeronimo monastery is definitely worth a visit: gorgeous place. The adjacent archaeological museum has some great Roman stelae and mosaics, but is a pretty quick walk-through.

    OK, I'll quit teasing and get to the food. We both had the tasting menu (required for the table, but I don't think we had any other strong opinions -- the special lobster menu just seemed overpriced, and the a la carte menu wouldn't give us as much exposure to the beautiful food. Eleven is a very modern building at the top of the Parque Eduardo VII with a view over most of the city. Lots of glossy wood, stone and steel inside (but slightly more plush chairs would be appreciated on a three-hour meal). We were entertained by a bat and a black cat at dusk... spookiest restaurant in Lisbon? Maybe.

    There was a bread presentation we forgot to photograph: four choices - a white roll, a seeded roll, a date-nut bread and an olive bread. I think between the two of us, we didn't try the date-nut one, but all the others were very good, with butter and a very fruity olive oil (which they sell) presented.

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    20130807 00 View from Eleven

    The amuse course was actually four: a pumpkin vichyssoise which had the perfect balance of salt and cream; a black spoon with lamb and eggplant (Sue's favorite), a white spoon with shrimp and other things I no longer recall, and a little puff pastry with pork that was delightful, but seemed the sort of thing that would be passed around by waiters at a wedding.

    Oh, and keep an eye out for that little cube of tomato: it was on every course (although not visible in all the photos), with different herbs garnishing.

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    20130807 01 Amuse

    First course is foie with two presentations of popcorn (in the cone and crusting the little torchons, and as a foam). a beet chutney, and a dark chocolate sauce. The foie was like butter (appropriate for the not-pictured toast points) with the popcorn and beet emphasizing the earthiness of liver, while also providing some great crunch.

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    20130807 02 Foie

    Next up was a lobster in cherry gazpacho. This was tasty, but one of the less successful dishes. Despite the depth of color, the cherry flavor was relatively muted (cucumber was prominent). The lobster was perfect, but didn't go particularly well with the cherry. Far from hated, just didn't delight. Small demerit for inedible garnish: ordinarily, I'd suck the meat out of a lobster leg, but when it's covered in cherry soup, that's less than optimal.

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    20130807 03 Gazpacho

    This was followed by hake, with baby carrots, the world's smallest ear of corn, a sliver of coconut, and I forget what the sauce was (beets again, perhaps?). The fish was perfect, even Sue who dislikes finfish, enjoyed this. Crispy skin, succulent flesh.

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    20130807 04 Hake

    Crawfish Risotto was next. I'd call this a langoustine, but apparently it translates from the Portuguese as crawfish. Al dente rice was rich with parmeggiano, with some herbed ricotta on top, and some sort of crunchy veg finely diced throughout avoided my usual gripe of risotto being texturally boring. Second demerit for an inedible garnish - the pictured head is halved and empty.

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    20130807 05 Crawfish

    Last course before desserts: Lamb chop, with discs of octopus surrounding. I have no memory of what the chop was on top of, but it was a perfect little meat lollipop. The octopus didn't add much to the dish, though, and felt a little disjointed. Better octopus on our last night in town (later post).

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    20130807 06 Lamb

    Cheese course: A french bleu (which I should have eaten last, since it overpowered the other two), local serpa and another whose name I've lost, but was also local. Dried apricot and apricot puree, candied walnut, and walnut bread. Very nice bridge from savory to sweet.

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    20130807 07 Cheese

    Dessert is not the strongest suit here: None of these things gave the delight of the foie, risotto or lamb.
    From left: a passionfruit cake, chocolate gelato with spun sugar, a nice little macaron (but I don't recall what it was served with), and my memory of the bottom item is as fuzzy as it is in the picture, except that it had pistachios.

    Mignardise were served at the same time, a variety of little cookies and bonbons.

    Parting gift was a nut-crusted muffin. Very good for breakfast the next day.

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    20130807 08 Dessert
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    20130807 09 Mignardise

    Eleven
    Rua Marquês Fronteira Jardim Amália Rodrigues
    1070-051 Lisboa
    Portugal
    restauranteleven.com
    +351 21 386 2211
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #11 - August 15th, 2013, 5:54 pm
    Post #11 - August 15th, 2013, 5:54 pm Post #11 - August 15th, 2013, 5:54 pm
    THURSDAY AUGUST 8

    On Thursday Sue and I did something we rarely do on vacation: Took a tour. Seven of us (plus driver) in a Renaut minivan, touring the area around Évora. It's a pretty town and all, and the nearby kromlech (standing stones) in the middle of a cork plantation were pretty cool, but the brochure implied more medieval and roman ruins, which, well, consisted of not very much: On the Roman side, mainly the ruined/restored Temple of Diana and some excavated baths, and a fake-ruins created in the 18th century for its romantic value.

    The tour driver, a knowledgable young woman who kept the tour pretty interesting, recommended Restaurante Medieval for lunch. And it's soup time again: Tomatada for Sue, with the allure of grilled sausages, and Sopa de Cação for me. Both are designed to be served over the local peasant bread (pão salolio), and were served as a platter of bread, the soup, and in the case of Sue's tomatada, the meat on another dish. Sue's tomato soup was nicely spicy, with eggs, sausages and bacon to put in; the Cação has nothing to do with chocolate, it's dogfish (remember the soft 'c' sound), with a very rich broth for fish, and succulent steaks of dogfish which had to be over half a pound -- quite filling. The pix below include some more examples of the pre-served appetizers, of which we devoured the olives. This is, after all, olive country.

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    20130808 01 Couvert1
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    20130808 02 Couvert2
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    20130808 03 Tomatada Set
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    20130808 03b Tomatada
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    20130808 04 Sopa De Cação
    Image
    20130808 05 Medieval

    Restaurante Medieval
    Rua do Raimundo 47
    7000 Évora
    Portugal
    +351 266 744 116

    For dinner, we wanted something a little cheaper (partly because, for a change, we'd spent more than a couple bucks on lunch), and searching "Lisbon cheap eats" revealed a close-by place called Carvoaria Jacto, which was the cheapest and one of the best meals we had. I'd highly recommend this place. The article I'd found said that you can tell a good, cheap Lisbon restaurant by the fact that football (soccer) will be playing on big screens, and indeed this had that, but thankfully with the sound down. With grilled chouriço being a great success, we ordered some more, sorry not much left in the photo. Meals here start at about 3€ with a trip to the salad bar!, for a 200g (about 7oz) steak for 5.05€. I ordered the costoletas de porco preto[i], black pork chops, 7.95€. The pork chops were absolutely amazing: They're thin, with the fat on the edge crisp, but the meat juicy, and perfectly salty. The fries and pureed (to within an inch of its life) spinach were 1.15€ and 1.95€ respectively. and with water, wine, a small loaf of [i]pão (only .45) and the brownie like Bolo Chocolate Ribatejo (River Tejo Chocolate Cake), it came out to only 32€, our cheap eats of the week. Note this place also didn't drop the appetizers on the table (except for bread and butter), but offered them politely. Nice service, delicious food, great prices, and only two blocks from our hotel.

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    20130808 06 Chouriço
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    20130808 07 Top Loin
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    20130808 08 Black Pork Chops
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    20130808 09 Sides
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    20130808 10 Cake

    Restaurante Carvoaria Grill aka Carvoaria Jacto
    Rua Maria Andrade 6
    1170 Lisboa
    Portugal
    +351 21 814 7555
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #12 - August 15th, 2013, 8:34 pm
    Post #12 - August 15th, 2013, 8:34 pm Post #12 - August 15th, 2013, 8:34 pm
    Excellent write up Joel. The stuffed olives, the dessert pizza, the tart, and the chocolate cake look particularly good. We will look forward to the experimentation with some new desserts. Maybe some stuffed olives will also appear.
    Toria

    "I like this place and willingly could waste my time in it" - As You Like It,
    W. Shakespeare
  • Post #13 - August 16th, 2013, 9:02 am
    Post #13 - August 16th, 2013, 9:02 am Post #13 - August 16th, 2013, 9:02 am
    Nice report, brings back fond memories. Was in Spain and Portugal about 5 years ago, we much preferred Portugal. Loved the food, loved the people.
  • Post #14 - August 16th, 2013, 10:32 am
    Post #14 - August 16th, 2013, 10:32 am Post #14 - August 16th, 2013, 10:32 am
    FRIDAY AUGUST 9

    OK, home stretch: Friday we went to the nearby town of Sintra to visit some historical palaces (I highly recommend the Moorish castle and the Pena palace built around 1900 to look much older). As I mentioned earlier, Sintra has a variation on the custard tart called a Queijada ('cheesed'). They're smaller than the Belém pastries, but a little denser. We bought a six pack in a tube -- great way to package them, with waxed paper between each. Armed with that, water, and a chicken salad sandwich, we were good for lunch (we knew ice cream would be in the offing, since temps were approaching 100 on these last days).

    Image
    20130809 01 Queijadas

    For dinner we decided to stick to things local to the hotel, in order to maximize our Metro card value (if we bought one the next morning, we'd be covered until we got to the airport). Marisquiera do Lis fulfilled the bill, based on the hotel's recommendations for açorda, a richer, yet more peasanty stew version of the garlic soup we'd had earlier in the week, enhanced with seafood (shrimp in this case). Bread, egg, garlic and cilantro are beaten (tableside) to form a brown goo that's absolutely delicious, if not the prettiest food in the world. Sue had a garlic shrimp very similar to Spanish mojo de ajo called gambas a la guilho. The place also had a wide variety of seafood by the kilogram, from tiny snails (caracolas) to huge crabs. The guy next to us made his way through crab legs and shrimp before having a steak. With a small bottle of wine, water, fries (not foodservice-style) and salad (sides not included), chocolate mousse and a delicious huge slab of melon, we got out for about 35€, again one of the less expensive meals we've had.

    Image
    20130809 02 Garlic Shrimp
    Image
    20130809 03 Sue's Plate
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    20130809 04 Joel's Plate
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    20130809 05 Açorda
    Image
    20130809 06 Melão

    A Marisqueira do Lis
    Avenida Almirante Reis 27
    1150 Lisboa
    Portugal
    +351 21 885 0739

    SATURDAY AUGUST 10

    Our last day proved even hotter, we had smartly planned cooler places to visit, including the Oceanarium (part of the 1998 World Expo), and the Gulbenkian Collection (Oriental and European art and artifacts, plus a gorgeous gallery of Lalique jewelry), keeping us air conditioned most of the day. We broke our pattern of late afternoon nap and dinner planning, though, by shopping for last-minute souvenirs and food for the plane (some jamon iberico, cheese and bread from a Pingo Doce supermarket smack dab in the downtown tourist district), and a breakdown in the Eléctrico system that left us stranded in the Alfama district in the heat, a good distance from any Metro stops or useful bus lines.

    By the time we got back to the hotel and showered, it was around 7PM, and on a Saturday night, getting a reservation was tougher. A few places we'd been wanting to try and leaving as a moderately-expensive last meal were full up, a couple others were, of course, closed for August. We'd noticed a place with nice seafood and sausages in the window earlier, and tried to figure out which one that was, and made a reservation with help from the hotel. It turned out not to be the place we thought it was, but the food was terrific, and a notch above most of the other basic Portuguese places in the downtown Baixa area - Leão D`ouro (Golden Lion -- the Lannister's place). Thankfully air conditioned, and a lot of pretty tiles on the wall.

    After spotting several blackfoot hams hanging, we ordered the Cogumelos Salteados which was listed as the ham with mushrooms. Sauteed mushrooms and lardons of magic ham made for a very nice appetizer. After the experience with my pork chops, Sue ordered the grilled Porco Preto, and I orderd Polvo Lagareiro - grilled octopus in garlic. The pork wasn't as amazing as at Carvoaria, but still very tasty -- and terrific house-made potato chips. My octopus was fork-tender (I'm guessing a slow simmer preceded the grilling), very tasty. With a liter of Sangria and water, a mixed salad (look at the picture below -- has that been mixed? No.) it came out a few Euros more than the other Portuguese places we'd hit earlier in the week, but worth it - note they were among the only places we'd been at to include a green veg with the meal.

    Image
    20130810 01 Presunto
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    20130810 02 Presunto
    Image
    20130810 03 Polvo
    Image
    20130810 04 Salad
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    20130810 05 Porco Preto
    Image
    20130810 06 Chips


    Restaurante Leão D`ouro
    Rua 1º de Dezembro 105
    1200 Lisboa
    Portugal
    +351 21 342 6195
    http://www.restauranteleaodouro.com.pt

    Overall, we had a great time. It's not high on my list of places to return to (there's only a few sights we didn't get a chance to hit), but it was a wonderful week spent with my lovely wife of 30 years, great food, lots of exercise and relaxation. It wasn't the discount vacation we'd thought we'd be getting, what with their economic situation, but wasn't outrageous either. Last minute tips would include finding a supermarket to buy a 1/2L or larger bottle of water to carry around (and refill), plan your walking trips to start uphill and walk downhill, and go to the beach on Monday (when the museums are closed), and the museums on Sunday (when many are free). Remember that Portuguese are mostly not very tall -- you may have obstacles (I hit these metal strap hangers about one trip in three getting on the Metro)

    Image
    20130811 Metro by joelfinkle, on Flickr
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #15 - August 29th, 2013, 4:34 pm
    Post #15 - August 29th, 2013, 4:34 pm Post #15 - August 29th, 2013, 4:34 pm
    One last photo I'd forgotten until Sue started building photo albums:
    "This way to the GNR!"*
    Image
    Sintra Street Signs

    * It's the Guarda Nacional Republicana, the National Guard (really more of a police group than military).
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #16 - August 29th, 2013, 5:05 pm
    Post #16 - August 29th, 2013, 5:05 pm Post #16 - August 29th, 2013, 5:05 pm
    There are GNRs all over Sintra!

    Image
  • Post #17 - December 4th, 2015, 9:19 pm
    Post #17 - December 4th, 2015, 9:19 pm Post #17 - December 4th, 2015, 9:19 pm
    Joel, I'm going with my husband for our 25th to Spain and Portugal in May. I can't thank you enough for this thread, I hope some of the places you cited are still open! We won't have quite as much time, probably 3-4 days max, and our daughter will be with us. She's been to Lisbon, we want to hit Porto for a day, so I'm looking for tons of recs and suggestions. So if anything strikes you feel free to send me message :-).
  • Post #18 - December 5th, 2015, 10:13 am
    Post #18 - December 5th, 2015, 10:13 am Post #18 - December 5th, 2015, 10:13 am
    The most memorable things we ate were:

    The pork chops at Carvoaria -- it's a little outside of the touristy areas (it was close to our hotel though), but man can they grill a pork chop.

    The egg tarts in Belem. Everyone in Portugal makes them, none were half as good as the originals. A big part of that is due to volume: getting them warm out of the oven at the peak of crispness of the crust.

    The soups everywhere, but especially at Restaurant Medieval in Evora. You wouldn't think hot soup in the heat of summer would be so refreshing, but it's a way to add more liquid when you're dehydrated, and these were all awesome (especially that Sopa de Cação).

    It's not local Portuguese food, but the pizza and pasta at Casanova was very very good, and reasonably priced.

    There were a number of places we wanted to try, but were unable to because they were closed either on the day we went to look for them, or for the August holiday period (which makes no sense, but there you are).
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #19 - December 6th, 2015, 12:28 am
    Post #19 - December 6th, 2015, 12:28 am Post #19 - December 6th, 2015, 12:28 am
    sujormik - You'll have a great time!

    I second everything in Joel's posts, except for the Belem egg tarts. They're the local specialty, and I won't turn down any pastry fresh out of the oven. But I didn't find it revelatory and I wished I had branched out to some of the other also great-looking desserts. Original location is still worth a stop.

    The few days before your trip, a leafy greens diet is recommended - it's easy to get fatigued when the best dishes are often pork/seafood in cooked in butter served with fried potatoes.

    Mercado da Ribeira makes for a great "lazy-day" lunch, since you can graze from stall to stall. Be sure to check out the canned fish stall - Portuguese canned sardines are the bomb and my single most memorable bite in Lisbon was bread dipped in canned smoked oysters in chili oil.

    Go easy on the bacalhau

    Image


    --------
    Mercado da Ribeira
    Avenida 24 de Julho, 49, Lisbon, Portugal
  • Post #20 - December 6th, 2015, 12:53 pm
    Post #20 - December 6th, 2015, 12:53 pm Post #20 - December 6th, 2015, 12:53 pm
    In Oporto, a friend in the wine biz set us up with a private tour at Taylor's. It was incredible! But I also suspect that the regular tour would be fine, too: Taylor is a high-class outfit.

    Also, it's lovely to drive up the river into the hills where the vines are--beautiful countryside, and wonderful terraces along the river.

    Geo
    Sooo, you like wine and are looking for something good to read? Maybe *this* will do the trick! :)
  • Post #21 - December 7th, 2015, 1:21 pm
    Post #21 - December 7th, 2015, 1:21 pm Post #21 - December 7th, 2015, 1:21 pm
    I just got back from Lisbon and Sintra last week. Do go to the Mercado da Ribeira--great options for lighter meals or snacks and just fun to check out. Best places I ate at were Tascadero in the Principe Real neighborhood for lunch (grilled dourade, very simple) and Casa do Pasto in the Cais do Sodre neighborhood (delicious seafood bisque and grilled wild mushrooms with orange). Minibar was a fancier, Alinea-esque option--the chef worked at El Bulli in Spain--and the menu concept of a play with "acts" and so forth is a little labored, but it was really excellent, especially the liquid balls of intense flavors and a foie gras course. We also ate at Bica do Sapato, which John Malkovich partly owns, but it was frankly disappointing, especially for the American-style pricing--got some pork ribs that were pretty dry, if flavorful.

    Just went to Sintra for the day, but I found a great and very friendly place to pick up a half-bottle of wine and a sandwich: Cantinho Gourmet. They also have a deal with a sandwich and a glass of wine for something ridiculous like 5 euros.
  • Post #22 - February 11th, 2016, 1:27 pm
    Post #22 - February 11th, 2016, 1:27 pm Post #22 - February 11th, 2016, 1:27 pm
    bernard wrote:sujormik - You'll have a great time!

    I second everything in Joel's posts, except for the Belem egg tarts. They're the local specialty, and I won't turn down any pastry fresh out of the oven. But I didn't find it revelatory and I wished I had branched out to some of the other also great-looking desserts. Original location is still worth a stop.

    The few days before your trip, a leafy greens diet is recommended - it's easy to get fatigued when the best dishes are often pork/seafood in cooked in butter served with fried potatoes.

    Mercado da Ribeira makes for a great "lazy-day" lunch, since you can graze from stall to stall. Be sure to check out the canned fish stall - Portuguese canned sardines are the bomb and my single most memorable bite in Lisbon was bread dipped in canned smoked oysters in chili oil.

    Go easy on the bacalhau

    Image


    --------
    Mercado da Ribeira
    Avenida 24 de Julho, 49, Lisbon, Portugal


    Thanks for the tips, we will be coming from 4 days in Madrid so not sure the leafy greens will happen so much!
  • Post #23 - April 19th, 2016, 8:11 pm
    Post #23 - April 19th, 2016, 8:11 pm Post #23 - April 19th, 2016, 8:11 pm
    Leaving for Madrid next Friday, replying to (a) bump this up and (b) more so to thank everyone for your help. I will try to keep records worthy of LTH.
  • Post #24 - May 24th, 2016, 8:53 pm
    Post #24 - May 24th, 2016, 8:53 pm Post #24 - May 24th, 2016, 8:53 pm
    Home from our Iberian adventure, and I will return with a more detailed report, but I did want to thank y'all here for the many pieces of advice.
  • Post #25 - April 30th, 2018, 11:30 am
    Post #25 - April 30th, 2018, 11:30 am Post #25 - April 30th, 2018, 11:30 am
    I was in Lisbon all last week on business. Didn't take a lot of pix, but had some really good food. I'd noted that it didn't seem cheap 5 years ago, it seems cheap now. I think it's partly that we were away from the tourist zone, partly that I've gotten used to eating out at pricier places.

    The day I arrived I went to a local mall called Amoreiras to pick up a monitor for our booth (renting a 24" monitor for 3 days cost more than twice buying one), and had some nice dim sum in the mall: szechuan dumplings and a pork bao. They had a rather nice food court with crepes, sushi and local cuisine.

    Dim Sum
    Av. Eng. Duarte Pacheco 1028, 1070-103 Lisboa, Portugal
    http://dimsum.pt
    +351 21 240 2235

    Across from the hotel was a row of restaurants including kabob, pastries, pizza and a couple Portuguese places. I asked the doorman which ones were worth eating at, and he pointed at what looked like the smallest, dingiest of the bunch called O Cardo ("the thistle," probably artichoke). The inside was much nicer, but the combination of visible AC units and old signage masked a very nice place. The front window is their seafood case, including live crabs and an array of cold shellfish.

    Sopa Alantejo is bread and garlic with broth and a poached egg. The tureen they brought out would have fed 2 or three people (except for sharing the egg). Grilled Dorado came with potatoes and vegetables; I like how they cook cabbage lightly here. A little underseasoned, perhaps, but that may just be the soup's garlic talking.

    Image
    Image

    O Cardo
    3, Av. Fontes Pereira de Melo, 1050-005 Lisboa, Portugal
    +351 21 353 8294
    http://ocardo.net

    The next day I took a colleague back to Carvoaria Jacto, our favorite spot from 5 years ago. Pork chops are still stellar; the black beans with chouriço were really good. Some folks near us had steaks and skewers which also looked outstanding.
    Image

    Carvoaria Jacto
    R. Maria Andrade 6A, 1170-132 Lisboa, Portugal
    +351 21 814 7555
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Carvoari ... 9485674033

    The following night, we took some clients to a nearby place called A Cisterna, which featured a 17th century well in the building (no longer drinkable water). After some shrimp sauteed with garlic, and another appetizer I've forgotten, I ordered a roulade of sorts with beef around chouriço, with a spicy tomato sauce. Very tender, well seasoned. Veg look dull but are just on the edge between crisp and hammered. They also made a very nice creme brulee for dessert.
    Image

    A Cisterna
    Rua de São Sebastião da Pedreira nº 31 1050-206 Lisboa Portugal
    Phone : +351 21 3159067
    http://cisternarestaurante.net/en

    Wednesday night, my boss asked if I could guide them around, and I begged off, having not slept well. I found a place nearby that sounded fun, and a little more casual: Churrasqueira Chu Chu (pronounced "shoe," not like a train). More of the same sorts of Lisbon cuisine, well prepared, inexpensive. I had the vegetable soup with a nice slice of sausage, and a mixed skewer, which alternated steak with bacon, the ubiquitous chouriço, bell pepper and onion. And oh, yeah, a killer piri-piri sauce. Highly recommended (although as it went on, service slipped -- took forever to get a check).
    Image
    Image

    Churrasqueira Chu-Chu
    R. de Santa Marta 31D, 1150-281 Lisboa, Portugal
    +351 21 314 0062
    churrasqueirachuchu.wix.com

    My last day in town I went back to Belém for their famous Pasteis. Are they really better than all the other custard tarts around Lisbon? Yes, only because they're fresh out of the oven, still quivering and warm.
    Image
    Pasteis de Belém
    R. de Belém 84-92, 1300-085 Lisboa, Portugal
    +351 21 363 7423
    http://pasteisdebelem.pt

    Since our 2013 trip, Time Out took over half of the Mercado Ribeira and turned it into a food hall. I wasn't so hungry so just grabbed a combo of 3 croquettes, chips and a drink for about 7 Euros: Game sausage with rapini, cuttlefish with ink, and bacalao; crisp outside, gooey inside. Chips were perfect, I'd be in the food hall for lunch all the time if I were in downtown.
    Image
    Mercado da Ribeira / Time Out Market
    Croqueteria
    R. Ribeira Nova 50, 1200-109 Lisboa, Portugal
    +351 918 932 855
    https://www.facebook.com/Croqueteria/
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang

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