Portugal will always be one of my favorite countries. I took a recent family trip there which was one of my best vacations ever. Everything from the people, culture and food in this country is unpredictable with a pure, raw energy that can be best experienced by visiting. The food scene I’d say is a hodge-podge, given all the various immigrant influences throughout its history, but there are still a few of those traditional items that manage to blow you away. And for pescetarians, it’s heaven. The Portuguese love their fish and know how to cook it well.
While I’m sure there is a lot I didn’t get to explore in Lisbon’s extensive culinary scene, I wanted to blog about some of my favorites from classic Portuguese cuisine that left a lasting impression on my palette.
My very first meal was at Restaurant 33 in the business district of Lisboa and comprised of the Bacalhau (Cod) A Bras; a warm salad made from thin strips of cod mixed in with onions, thinly grated potatoes and bound by eggs. The flavors were so rich and natural that every bite left you desiring more. The Port I drank with it was a good idea too. At the same restaurant, I also tried the Shrimps in Cream, which was a simple dish packed with intricate flavors. The shrimp was tender and translucent, and the tomato based cream sauce was somewhere inbetween a bisque and curry; both of which I love. In fact, I loved it so much, I went back just to have more of this dish, for my last meal there.
The second favorite delicacy I enjoyed was Bacalhau (Cod) Sandwich at the famous Time Out Mercado da Ribeira. Time Out has transformed this main market in the Ribeira District of the city into a foodie hangout, by bringing together the city’s best and favorite food shops. The energy at this food market is indescribable, and lucky for us, we visited there on a Friday. Of the many things I tried there, the fish sandwich from O Prego Peixaria was the clincher. The tenderest fillets of cod were served on two slices of onion flavored, homemade bread, filled intermittently with lots of kale and caramelized onions. Mind you, there were absolutely no condiments or seasonings in this sandwich, so you can imagine how amazing the natural flavors were to still make it so mouth-watering. I think I inhaled it in a matter of seconds. It was just the right portion to make you and keep you full.
But not that full, that I couldn’t make room for my third favorite- The Almendoa Torta (Almond Tart). A beautiful piece of almond tart topped with caramelized almonds and a thick, buttery crust definitely hit the spot after that delicious sandwich. This, along with the Nata pastry (egg custard tart), are probably the two most popular desserts in Lisbon.
What I loved about the food in Lisbon was that everything I ate was truly different from the other. It’s like there’s a well-kept secret among the Lisboeta chefs on how to serve the most flavorful dishes using the least amount of ingredients. But in the end it won’t matter, because it all tastes so delicious, that you’ll only be thinking about where you’ll eat your next meal. Especially if you’re a foodie, a visit to Portugal is a must!