Pastel de nata. Pastel de Belem. Whatever name you want to call it, in Portugal this is the national treasure and really all you need to know about Portugal food. It is the food of the Gods. Flaky crust, warm egg custard interior with torched sugar top that oozes creamy goodness as you bite into the lusciousness. Seriously, I am in love with a tart. I’ve already searched for where I can find it back home in Seattle and am considering how to smuggle home a few (or a backpack full) to tide me over. Full. On. Obsession.
Yes, the seafood is pretty good here too. Thom had a grilled sea bass at the Fado place near our arbnb that was quite tasty. BTW, Fado is seriously promoted here. You can walk almost any curvy ancient cobblestone street here and find a Fado bar where the music starts about 9 p.m. We ordered right before the singing started. Big mistake-no food service while the singing is going on. Thank goodness the singers were really loud so their soulful tunes covered the sounds of our stomachs rumbling loudly in hunger. Finally around 10 p.m., the singing stopped and the food flooded out to the hungry patrons. Fado was nice but since it is sung in Portugese (duh!) and I couldn’t understand the sad words, it was a one night and done for us to enjoy.
Acting on a recommendation by my cousin Eve, we went to the Anthony Boudain-approved seafood joint, Cervejaria Ramiro. Far away from the main square and tourist area, we walked through Lisbon’s Chinatown and into the best food ever. We thought by going “early” at 7 p.m. it would not be so busy as most people eat late here after they enjoy their afternoon siesta and go back to work for awhile. Nope. Even at 7 p.m. there was a line forming and the #’s were being given out to wait until you could be seated.
After a short wait though, we were directed upstairs from the main floor craziness. The iPad with the menu was quickly discussed with the friendly wait staff that wanted us to order everything on the menu. Having checked out the reviews, I knew to go with the garlic shrimp, garlic bread and steak sandwich for Thom. With no choice to go with a single glass of wine, I had to order the “small” bottle. Once again, cheap and delicious, I couldn’t finish the wine before we left. So much wine, so little time! Soaking up the juices with the bread, the garlic shrimp was divine. Thom was making yummy sounds as he enjoyed the steak sandwich and stole a few of my shrimp. Seriously, we could eat this every day and be very, very happy. Total bill for two with wine was under 25 euros. Thanks, Eve, for the tip!
Last night we just cooked in our teeny, tiny kitchen. We found that every train station has a grocery so on our way back from Evora we picked up eggs, bread, etc. for a quick breakfast dinner (with wine of course!). I still can’t understand how anyone can eat the huge slabs of salted cod you find in all groceries. Must be an acquired taste. The food is very inexpensive here in groceries and restaurants.
Coffee is not a big deal here. Most people drink espresso in cafes. We didn’t even have a coffee maker of any type provided in our arbnb. We found a cheap coffee press at Flying Tiger for 8 euros that we’ll leave for the next guest. Cheaper to do that than buy coffee out every day. We found one Starbucks at the train station but that was it for national coffee chain stores. Tea is not big here either though we did have a hot water kettle provided in the apartment. Next time I’ll bring more Starbucks instant coffee to tide us over as you just never know.
For lunches, toasties are big here, as in grilled cheese and grilled ham/cheese. We’ve had several of these and for about 2 euros each, provide a quick and hot lunch. Tarts and toasties-that’s seems to be my standard diet here with cheap and tasty wine to wash it all down. The sangria is amazing with so much fruit and spices that it is a tango on your tongue. Even the food carts get into the vino action. We found “wine with a view” on the waterfront in Belem, cork bar and all. A perfect way to end a day in sunny Portugal!