I’m back safe and sound. I’ve been home about a week and a half now and I’ve been dragging my feet on posting. Not because I don’t want to share all the glorious food details with you, but because I have so much to share that I just don’t know where to begin. I took 215 photographs and ate everything from gooseneck barnacles and suckling pig to gorgeous little pastries called pasteis de nata. I’ve decided to break it down into parts.
I did a ton of research before leaving. I searched chowhound and made several posts asking for must try restaurants and dishes in Portugal. I got very little feedback. I don’t think it’s a hot travel destination for Americans. While there for a week, I met 3 couples and we literally found one another by overhearing each other chatting. It was a bit isolating for me, I have to say. Keep in mind, this was my first trip to Europe. Back to the research. I put together a list of dishes I wanted to try, like leitao assado (roast suckling pig), bacalhau (salt cod stew), serra cheese (soft sheep’s milk cheese) and pasteis de nata (custard pastries). I also included in my list historical sites I wanted to visit, including The Belem Tower, Jeronimos Monastery and Castelo Sao Jorge. I think I conquered 95% of my list. It was quite a feat, I tell you, and there were many low blood sugars along the way. It was difficult (but not impossible) to manage my Type 1 diabetes. While I considered the time difference, I didn’t think about the affects of adrenalin, exercise and stress. But we persevered and fell into a good groove after a couple of days.
I hit the ground running. No sooner did that plane land that I was on a food mission from…. me. We set out to explore the streets of Lisbon, the capital of Portugal. I’m not going to bore you with historical facts but I was in a perpetual state of awe by the architecture, cobbled streets and streetcars. Kevin had to re-attach my jaw on several occasions as it had become disjointed and was hanging on my chest! Our first meal was a quick bite to eat at a cafe off of one of the center city squares(pracas). They have these little cafes everywhere! When I say everywhere I mean that they have one after another, after another, after another. The Portuguese will stop in quickly for a drink and a bite to eat often just standing at the glass counter. They generally serve beer, wine, coffee, pastries and small bites to eat like presunto (cured ham similiar to prosciutto), breads and sandwiches. Most of them have the futebol game on the television (main rivalry is Benfica vs. Porto). I had a half bottle of vinho verde (a light, effervescent white wine that’s lower in alcohol) and the guys had a Sagres beer (local brew). We ordered a plate of presunto, a roasted pork sandwich on crusty bread and they always bring you a basket of crusty bread with a plate of pre-packaged spreads (sardine pate, butter, etc). Check it out: