We’re in Portugal for the week to celebrate my birthday! The week started in Lisbon, and since Andrew and I had visited once before, I wanted this visit to be more about relaxing and eating than seeing the sights. We arrived at the Lisbon airport at 6am (what can I say, the cheapest flights are not usually the most convenient ones) and spent most of the day stumbling around with our suitcases (carry-on size only, to avoid paying the checked bag fee of course!) eating and drinking coffees to break up the stumbling routine and to stay awake until we could check into our Air BnB. We visited the Time Out Market (or Mercado Ribeira) and tried the famous pasteis de nata at Manteigaria. Wow, so delicious!
It rained on and off all morning, but we had enough sunlight to grab a lunch pastry and eat outside. The tantalizing selection at Casa Brasileria:
We finally settled on the bola de chaves, full of chourico, ham, and chicken!
This fountain was our picnic spot!
Finally it was time to check in and take a nap. These beautiful tiles were near where we stayed:
After our nap, we toured the home of Amália Rodrigues, the legendary fado singer and one of my favorite musicians ever. She passed away in 1999, but her pet parrot, Chico, still lives in the house and is very chatty. I also learned that Amália loved perfume, like I do, and I was able to identify a few bottles in her collection: Guerlain L’Heure Bleu, YSL Paris, and YSL Opium. No pictures were allowed inside the house, but I loved this sign in the courtyard:
Next we split a birthday gelato (chocolate and pistachio with fresh whipped cream) at Nannarella.
Sampling a local beer: Lupum Imperial Stout Coffee & Cocoa at Cerveteca Lisboa (with complimentary lupini beans with rosemary, thyme, and red chili):
For dinner we trekked through the rain back to the Timeout Market, where we sampled baccalau fritters (olive, plain, and red pepper . . . olive was my fave but all were great) at Olhó Bacalhau, black risotto with scallops, and blistered padrón peppers (both at Alexandre Silva, both really tasty!):
After 11 hours of sleep(!!) we were ready for our one full Lisbon day. We had a quick coffee and yogurt in our apartment, then ventured out to the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga. The NY Times “36 Hours in Lisbon” article was really pushing gallery room 61, and I have to say it was just as great as the article claimed! I loved this Salomé painting:
But what really stood out was Bosch’s Temptations of St. Anthony, a crazy, darkly whimsical paneled painting from the 1498, with flying fish, bird people, and other bizarre wonders:
The rest of the day was spent walking around the city exploring different neighborhoods, I chronicled my favorite tiles:
We found the cutest lunch place near Alfama, and sadly I forgot to write down the name! We had a 5€ soup and sandwich special with caldo verde soup (potato kale) and leitão sandwich (suckling pig, with crispy skin).
Also, check out these thick potato chips. Whoa.
Later, we sampled some local wine at the apartment before heading out for dinner. This juice box–sized wine was 44¢!! The taste was . . .not bad.
Dinner was at another food hall, this one not nearly as trendy or crowded, but also beautiful and full of delicious food—the Mercado de Campo de Ourique. Andrew had a salad of baccalau and chickpeas at Alhos e Bugalhos, and I tried the squid rice from Marisqueira. My dish was a bit over salted, but still tasty. For dessert we had the most amazing flourless chocolate ginger torte from Depois! I am going to learn to recreate this back at home, and when I figure out the recipe, I’ll share it on the blog. This was one of the best cakes I’ve eaten probably ever.
After dinner we decided to try out the quirky, toy battleship–filled tourist trap attraction that is Pavilhão Chinês. I would definitely recommend trying it once for the hoarder-chic decor, with collections of toy soldiers, bizarre historical-political ephemera, and other collections, but the drinks themselves were downright awful! Andrew tried a Manhattan (mostly vermouth and melted ice) and I an amêndoa amarga (bitter almond liquor) with ice and lemon (mostly lemon, eek!). And that was that. If I did go back, I would order some port and be done with it. But I have to say, it did look pretty interesting inside!
The next day it was time to head to Porto already, but before we did, we tried a breakfast pastry back at Casa Brasileira. I had to taste the Pão de Deus, because . . . how could I encounter the bread of God and not find out what it tastes like?!?! Well. It was pretty good, but not heavenly, at least I didn’t think so. But it was tasty. Sort of like challah with coconut topping and no raisins.
We walked around a bit and soon it was time for lunch at Beira Gare, and this, I might write home about. The bifana, which is a sandwich made of thin slices of pork simmered in thick, savory broth, served in a roll to sop up all of the juices, and with a yellow mustard to cut through some of the fattiness. WHOA, yum. Here’s the bifana meat, pre-sandwich, simmering away:
And the sandwich itself, in the flesh (if you will . . . he he he):
And with that, we were off to the airport, flying a quick, hour flight on TAP Portugal, with our under-8-kilo carryon bags, munching on our welcome milk chocolates that our flight attendant served as soon as everyone was seated.
Porto is this birthday trip’s second half, and I am already really excited to post about it. We’ve been here for about 5 hours so far, and I LOVE it here. Check back next week to hear about what we eat, drink, and see!