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Everything posted by therese

  1. Lots of restaurants are closed on Monday nights, and on top of that it was Father's Day. Not a real holiday, but presumably enough of one that even restaurants that said they were open on Mondays (including A Velha Gruta, the small place located on the ground floor of our apartment building which we thought we might try given the cold and windy nature of the evening) were closed in some cases. Fortunately Fidalgo was not. We arrived somewhere between 8:00 and 8:30 to snag the last table upstairs (there's a downstairs, and I'm not sure how big it is). No photos as I'd have had to use the flash, so too disturbing to other diners). We started with ham, followed by iscas de figado for me and grilled robalo for M. House vinho tinto. For dessert we got an order of fresh orange and a piece of tarte de gila com amendoas (a sticky cake made with pumpkin and almond, the same as one of the desserts from Al Foz pictured upthread) and shared them. Tarte much better with contrasting flavor and texture of orange. A funny moment while ordering: at the bottom of the menu it's noted that both English and French are spoken by the management. Although I manage to say simple things and order food in Portuguese it's of course immediately apparent from my accent that I'm not from Portugal. so our waiter pointed out that he'd be fine in English or French. So I switched to French (heh heh), but of course since the entire menu is in Portuguese had to switch back to same to specify what we wanted. I could have managed to translate it into French on the fly (with the exception of robalo, as I'm terrible with names of fish in any language) but it seemed a bit silly given that I could just read it right off the menu. Anyway, lovely meal, and we headed home through the now quiet Bairro Alto.
  2. Monday morning came rather sooner that we'd hoped, but fortunately we had no pressing plans, and so had a leisurely breakfast while we considered our options for the day. We'd considered Sintra, but then realized that the sites are closed on Mondays, so we decided instead to see some small museums in Lisbon proper. The first was the Museu da Farmacia, located just a few blocks away from our apartment. Located in an office building that actually houses the Portuguese National Association of Pharmacies and very well done, there's quite a lot there that pertains to food and nutrition. Cool food from NASA, for instance, and all sorts of vitamin tonics and so forth. By the time we left we were, incredibly, finally ready for another real meal, and so stopped in at this likely looking spot. Note from the coats on the passers by that the weathered turned a bit chilly: The inside's quite nice. This couple of presumed grandmother and grandson were very deep in conversation: We drank (well, I drank, as M opted for water): I had roast lamb: M had grilled sardines (which taste of home just like coffee does): We shared some cooked greens and a mixed salad as well: Dessert was fresh mango for me, fruit salad for M followed by a coffee. The total: Well-fed we head off for our next stop, Mae d'Agua. We take the metro to Amoreiras. It's cold and windy, and we decide to get some more roasted chestnuts: We stop first at Pao e Acucar at M's suggestion (very nice). But by the time we leave Pao e Acucar it's turned quite distinctly cold and rainy and extremely windy and we decide that we'll have to see Mae d'Agua another time. And since I fully intend to return some time soon with my children this is not a tragedy by any means. Home via metro.
  3. Sunday evening we both took naps, M swearing that she would not eat again until the next day, possibly the next evening. We headed out to Bairro Alto about 10:30, our destination a fado club called Caldo Verde where we expected to find our Swiss-German friends from the previous night's dinner at Adega das Gravatas. Sure enough they were there, having apparently dined on some not very nice dishes of something or other. I told the waiter that we'd just be having drinks, and he was fine with that, actually moving a table from another part of the restaurant so as to add on to one of the original party's. Most of the original party left soon after we arrived (no, I don't think it was anything I said, but rather the uncomfortable seats and late hour), so we defaulted to a single table and were soon joined by one of the Portuguese couples from the previous evening. We shut the club down (after an encore performance) and headed out into the night. As we were passing through the Praca Luis de Camoes I pointed out our apartment, and then we decided we should all go see the apartment and probably have a drink. Somehow, miraculously, we managed to stretch a bottle of wine 8 ways, and that big box of cookies from Confeitaria Nacional came in handy as well. We bid our new friends good night and fell into bed about 3:00 AM. No photos, I'm afraid, so you'll just have to take my word for it.
  4. As the bus back over Vasco da Gama bridge to Lisbon wasn't due for a while, we stopped in at a swank waterfront bar for coffee (for M, M2, and Z), something fizzy for M2's daughter, and a caiparinha for me. Z considered switching her order to a caiparinha, but then M2 reminded her that she was driving. M2 and Z of course knew the owners of the bar as well as the owners' parents and various other town worthies. We met a lot of people. Here's a view of the water from the bar: We caught the bus back to Parque das Nacoes, doing a little shopping in the mall there before catching the metro home for a rest before heading out that evening.
  5. Lunch was in a nice restaurant called Al Foz on the waterfront in Alcochete. We were met there by M2's 13 year old daughter (who speaks English quite well for her age and experience) and her grandmother, M2's mother, Z (who speaks only Portuguese and Spanish, but with great expression). Z knows everybody and everything in Montijo and Alcochete, and of course ran into lots of old friends at the restaurant. Here's a hazy view of Lisbon across the Tejo from our table: Here's a view from the terrace outside, a bit later in the afternoon as the wind picked up and the haze lifted, of the waterfront in Alcochete: Lunch (and I use the term loosely, as we sat down at 3:00 PM) started with various small dishes as usual, including crab spread in the foreground, tuna spread in the gravy boat, and fish roe in the back (the beige hunks of stuff): Z insisted that we get thin crispy pieces of toast to accompany the spreads. They were delicious. For my main I ordered fried eels with mashed fish roe, but before that I was served, at Z's insistence, a sort of fish soup, comprised of a piece of fish in a fairly thick sauce and pieces of bread: Z later kicked up a bit of a fuss about the bread, as it's supposed to be a certain sort of bread from the Alentejo, not just any old bread. And I have to confess that when I was eating it that it did seem that the dish did lack a certain zing. Here are my eels: Here's what was left of my eels: Here's what Z made us eat for dessert: Portuguese desserts tend towards the heavy and sweet.
  6. The two children tucked in at their party, we headed for more touring, including a trip along the really lovely Arrabida. This photo depicts some plants that I'm sure must be edible in the foreground, and the Troia peninsula across the water: Next stop: Lunch
  7. So we got to bed reasonably early on Saturday night (by about 1:00 AM, I'd guess, so officially it was Sunday morning) and that was a good thing, because we needed to be up and about relatively early on Sunday so as to catch the 10:00 AM ferry to Montijo on Sunday AM. M2 met us in her car at 10:20 with two of her children in tow, and we set off on our big adventure. Our first stop was Palmela, a castle with some very cool history that is now a pousada (where you may be served food, so that keeps this photo on topic): This photo is taken from Palmela and shows some sort of orchard (any idea as to what they might be? possibly oranges?) and the base of a windmill in the upper right hand corner: Next stop was this establishment in a town nearby (precisely which town I don't know): Do you think this man knew he'd be visiting this establishment that morning when he chose his wardrobe? The wall opposite the service area features this work of art: A less primitive depiction of this sweet (which is a very thin sponge rolled around something or other, very nice), along with a glass of Setubal moscatel is here: I'll point out here that for once I was not the one deciding that an alcoholic beverage would hit the spot (that was M2's decision, as she wanted us to try the moscatel), and I followed it up with um galao: Thus fortified, we set off for our next destination, a birthday party to which the children had been invited. Located in a posh housing development plopped down in the middle of some very nice farming country, it all felt quite eerily like being in Alpharetta, GA. Or rather Alpharetta, GA 10 years ago before the posh housing developments took over all the farming country.
  8. Apparently plumas (feathers or quills in translation, I'm assuming) and secretos both refer to specific cuts of meat from porco preto. The ones we had were small flat pieces in which the muscle was apparent (so not cut against the grain). Here in Atlanta we've got just about every possible sort of green (by which I mean collards et al., not salad greens) and I'd probably call this one kale (and I'm assuming the stuff in the bucket on the floor of the photo is the starting material). I saw this restaurant, as we met our party at the coreto, actually standing up inside of it. It took some time to figure out exactly where the coreto was, as it wasn't indicated on either the map I had (although it did display the street where the restaurant was) or the map in the metro station. Or rather it was there, but the presence of the coreto was not indicated. In the end the nice young man at the ticket booth came over to the map, explained exactly where it was on the map, and then took us up out of the station and a block or so along the way, explaining how to get there and bidding us good luck. We found people in Lisbon to be very pleasant and accomodating indeed. Not my favorite, but interesting. And pretty funny to think that we'd come all the way from Atlanta to eat cornbread. The cod we ate at Confeitaria Nacional was presumably topped with crumbs of this bread, as per the name bacalhau com broa de milho.
  9. Yep, plugged "apartment" and "Lisbon" into google and this agency, Traveling to Lisbon, was one of the hits. I spent a fair amount of time looking at different apartments, and emailed a series of very specific questions to the management. They were answered promptly, and based on my queries the management actually suggested this property (#33---the web site shows more photos, including some more of the kitchen) which I hadn't notice because the maximum occupancy is limited to 4 persons and that usually means that there's only one bedroom. This one has two full bedrooms and two full baths, in addition to the amazingly nice kitchen (where I'd have done more cooking if traveling with my family), living room (where I did end up serving food one evening, so it's not off topic to mention it) and large sunny dining room.
  10. For dinner on Saturday night we'd decided to meet up with two local couples who get together informally with visitors to Lisbon who post on fodors.com (there's a long thread there on the Lisbon Dining Club if you want to know more, or hook up with them while you're in Lisbon---very pleasant, normal people who are also into food). The restaurant they'd chosen is outside of central Lisbon, in a neighborhood that was fortunately not destroyed during the Salazar years, Carnide. You take Lisbon's very efficient and clean metro to the Carnide station, and from there you need a detailed map (and I'm not kidding about the detailed map) for the remaining 10 minute walk. The restaurant was Adega das Gravatas, so named for obvious reasons. If you've got a really ugly tie to donate they'd appreciate it: The kitchen: The bar: Because this was a particularly large version of the Lisbon Dining Club that included a 17 members of an English language course from German-speaking Switzerland (who were visiting Lisbon because they'd run out of Anglophone countries) they'd booked a private room in the restaurant. We started out with port in the bar area, and then trooped back to our private room, where the wait staff was overseen by a really jolly guy named Paulo. The food was excellent. Starters included shrimp, fava beans with bacon and blood sausage, fried fish (probably monkfish), cheese, octopus, and probably a few things I'm leaving out. Here's a not too attractive photo of my plate with representative dishes: I don't have photos of the rest of the dinner, so I'll describe it: Grilled fish (several sorts---the staff brought the uncooked fish back to the dining room for to choose) Rice with seafood Bread stew with seafood Followed by: Porco preto (refers to the type of pigs), either "feathers" or "secrets" Beef steak (very tender, possibly tenderloin) served on very hot stone and only cooked on one side, so that you could have it either rare (my preference) or cooked beyond all recognition Various vegetables and salad Assortment of cakes Assortment of fruits Wine and beer Coffee Amarguinha (almond liqueur) Altogether a lovely meal, and the restaurant actually gave us all each a specially made azulejo in memory of the evening. The entire meal, from port to liqueur, including tip, cost 24 euro. We upped it to 25 just because. Home again on the metro to our cosy apartment. We had to use the Baixa exit at our station because the Chiado one was closed off, possibly due to the enormous crowds gathering in Praca Luis de Camoes, where they were loudly celebrating something, possibly a soccer win. The thunderous noise was inaudible behind the closed front windows of the apartment, and only faintly so from the open back windows.
  11. Saturday afternoon we did a bit of touring, and because we were taking the ferry back over the Tejo to Montijo on Sunday morning to see M2 and her family I needed to buy a couple of gifts for her. I found a nice set of cordial glasses along with some raspberry liqueur at Villeroy & Boch and also got a recommendation from the sales ladies there for a really, really typical pastelaria that would have pretty items for gifts. I find this an excellent way to shop, and the longer they consider the possibilities the better, as locals take a lot of pride in sending you to just the right place. Suica was considered and rejected, as they have nice things but are really just too snotty for words, and in the end they decided on Casa Chinesa on Rua do Ouro (laughing over the fact that it doesn't sound like a place that would make Portuguese sweets) and drawing me a little map with directions. As luck would have it Casa Chinesa was closed for repair work that day, with the window featuring a nice note explaining that they'd be open the next day and apologizing for the inconvenience. So we set off for Confeitaria Nacional, where the slightly gruff young woman at the counter let me know that they'd sold out of the already packaged sweets. So I chose as assortment of cookies, assuming she'd re-wrap them as a gift (which I'd made clear was my intention, and she was good about pointing out which cookies would still be acceptable the next day and which ones wouldn't). But she didn't and I said never mind, and we set out for Pastelaria Suica, where the staff was every bit as unpleasant as the sales ladies at Villeroy & Boch had said they'd be, but I did at least find some very pretty almond candies. Oh, and one of those really decadent fresh candies made of egg yolk and sugar. I didn't photograph either the candies or the cookies, but I did document another food-related find that I bought on the way to Confeitaria Nacional, in a small farmacia: I buy local toothpaste everywhere I can find it, and this was the only one I saw in Lisbon (where Colgate and other multinational brands dominate the market). Some of them turn out to be pretty weird, but this one was very nice, very minty.
  12. Having purchased bread and produce we rode the Elevador da Bica back up the hill and stopped in at a small grocery on Rua da Horta Seca to purchase tinned fish and cheese. Back home we laid out lunch: The tin in front is tuna in olive oil, and the tin in back is octopus in olive oil. The cheese was pretty bland, and even leaving it out at room temp for the remainder of our stay didn't do much towards improving it. For dessert we had yogurt and strawberries. No cooking involved, so we didn't utilize the beautiful kitchen to its full potential, but then we were on holiday after all.
  13. The produce at Ribeira was pretty straightforward stuff, so the only photo I took was this one: What the heck is this? Here's a close-up: So far as I can tell it's shredded something or other, possibly tough greens to be used in soup. Other other hand maybe it's to be used for display, perhaps for Easter. We bought a loaf of bread that turned out to contain a fair amount of cornmeal, and looked around the top level, as I'd heard there were arts & crafts vendors there, but all we saw were a book shop and a pretty cool looking ballroom that would be a cool place for a tea dance (but on Saturday only featured a few older ladies sitting alone).
  14. Saturday morning we woke early (again, the sun on the Tejo and the pigeons very effective) and decided we'd go to Mercado da Ribeira to find things for lunch. filipe had pointed out that "all the saints help" on the way down hill, but I decided that we wouldn't rely on them for the return trip, and so took the Elevador da Bica. A very efficient means of getting groceries up a steep incline, and convenient to both our apartment and the market): The market was predominantly fish, meat, and produce, with one egg vendor and a couple of bakeries, as well as a large area for fresh flowers. No dairy that we could find, which is unfortunate as M has a bit of a fetish for yogurt and wanted to try some local production. Some interesting fish: The eels were alive, and writhing suggestively: This woman was scaling this fish, and if you look closely you can see the scales in the air like snowflakes:
  15. Starters at Arrastao included: The latter picture depicts something that's somewhere between chicharrones and pork cracklings. There was also linguica but the photo didn't turn out, almost certainly several other items. The main course was several different sorts of fish. The one shown here is, I believe, sargo, a fish I'd never had before with a distinctive flavor to the flesh: Along with the fish we had plain vegetables (including green beans and boiled potatoes) and salad as well as some very addictive salt-roasted jacket potatoes: I'd been planning on fruit for dessert, but then I saw floating island (which has a different name in Portuguese that I don't recall) in the dessert case and changed my mind. Very rich, with a much eggier and sweeter custard base: We caught the 11:00 PM ferry from Montijo back to Cais do Sodre and strolled home to our cozy apartment.
  16. M2 lives on the other side of the Tejo, in Montijo (where she was born, and where her mother was born, and where she is apparently related to lots and lots of people). We took the freeway around Lisbon (horrific traffic) and across the Vasco da Gama bridge to her home, where she cooked dinner for two of her children and picked up the third for dinner in Alcochete at Arrastao. Arrastao is a large, casual place that specializes in very fresh seafood: Should you not care for fish you might consider rabbit:
  17. Just returned from Lisbon via Madrid (where there are many, many shops at the airport selling cryovac'd jamon and just about anything else you'd want) into Atlanta and I doubt you'd have any trouble whatsoever with the ham. If you declare it you'll have to show it to the Customs/Agriculture officials, if you don't you'll just cruise on through. Note (huge, important warning here) that upon your return to the U.S. if you've got duty free wine, perfume, or anything else that's liquid or liquid-y you'll need to add those items to your checked luggage before continuing through security again to either exit the airport (which is the case in Atlanta, though not everywhere) or to continue on to a connecting flight. This is because you've got access to your checked luggage during the Customs/Agriculture, and could theoretically retrieve something dangerous from your checked bag and move it to your carry-on. I actually did forget and forgot to move a couple of small bottles of perfume, but either they didn't notice or decided to ignore the small volume. I did see a security guard walk away with a confiscated bagged and labeled bottle of wine, so don't risk it.
  18. Friday afternoon we meet a local friend and colleague of mine, also M (so I'll call her M2) at her office, and she drives us west along the coast to Cascais. We stop along the way at an incredibly beautiful place for coffee (for the two Ms) and a caiparinha (for me, possibly explaining the fact that I don't photograph this beverage). In Cascais we see small fishing boats: We also see these traps. I don't know what they're used to catch; in the U.S. I'd guess lobster or crabs, but M2 didn't think so. Does anybody know?
  19. By 1:30 we were ready for lunch. Strolling down from the Se we had to decide between Martinho da Arcado and Confeitaria Nacional. We chose the latter, and regrettably I didn't take any pictures of the exterior as it's quite pretty. The dining room upstairs is also quite pretty, very "ladies who lunch" with a nice sprinkling of business people in suits, and nice views over the Praca da Figuera. We both chose one of the pratas do dia, bacalhau com broa de milho (which was delicious): The price includes a beverage and a sweet. M had something flan-like, and I had rice pudding. Both on the sweet and stodgy side, but then that's what they're supposed to be: Coffee to finish:
  20. The walk up through the Alfama to Castelo San Jorge is circuitous and steep in places, so we stopped at this very swish little cafe and wine and cheese shop that's apparently associated with the very, very swish Palacio Belmonte hotel: I did not, in fact, consume a "licor in chocolate cup" but instead chose water, while M had coffee. Edit to add M's slightly out of focus coffee:
  21. As it grew dark we headed over to the Pingo Doce to stock our kitchen: coffee (there was some, but M wanted fresh), tea, yogurt, breakfast cookies, fruit. cheese, etc. We dined at home on soft unripened cheese, strawberries, and biscuits, walked around Bairro Alto and down to Cais do Sodre, and fell into bed at 10:00. I woke up at 6:30 AM, along with the first light over the Tejo and thunderously loud pigeons just outside my window, and breakfasted on tea, cookies, yogurt and fruit. M takes only coffee first thing in the morning, with yogurt an hour or so later. By mid-morning we'd rolled out of the apartment and caught the 28 tram headed towards the Alfama.
  22. We spent our first afternoon in Lisbon strolling around the Chiado and down to the Baixa, pausing en route at the foot of the Elevador Santa Justa: We consumed (huge surprise here) coffee and beer. I'll let you figure out which one of us enjoyed which beverage: We continued on to the Baixa, where we bought roasted chestnuts from a vendor in Rua Augusta. It seemed awfully late in the season for roasted chestnuts, but they were very nice, and an appropriate first food for Lisbon:
  23. There's also a full dining room. Those chairs are surprisingly comfortable, and the wall of cabinets on the right contains all sorts handy things like guide books and toys and extra linens: Spendid views of Praca Luis de Camoes from the dining room (with a narrow terrace accessible via the french doors): Praca Luis de Camoes is officially in the Chiado, but just at the edge of Bairro Alto, which gets very busy and crowded on weekend evenings. Fortunately the windows are sound-proof, so the noise is no problem.
  24. Okay, so here are some photos along with some additional info that you might find helpful if you're visiting Lisbon. Our flight from Atlanta left about 9:00 PM. I'd worked until 7:00 PM, jumped in a taxi, and arrived just in time to purchase a Big Mac and fries before boarding. I chose the Big Mac because McDonald's had the shortest line in the food court at the airport, but in any case it seemed a fitting last meal in the U.S. I used to work at McDonald's when I was in high school, and I'm pretty sure I haven't eaten a Big Mac since then, but so far as I can tell it hasn't changed a bit. The fries were for my traveling companion, M, a friend from work. By the time we reached cruising altitude an hour had passed, so I took my Ambien (which works better on an empty stomach), fell asleep, and awoke as we approached the airport in Madrid. Madrid airport food concessions are reasonable: I had a ham sandwich and a beer, with yogurt for dessert, and M had coffee. The first of many, many coffees, as she is originally from Croatia and coffee clearly tastes of home. Our flight to Lisbon on Portugalia was brief, but included meal service of a calzone and beverage (beer for me---you'll start to notice a theme here). Cab ride to our apartment was just under 10 euro. Here's picture of the outside. You enter from the green door in the bottom right of the picture, and the apartment's on the 4th floor (U.S. fifth). There's a lift, very convenient for luggage and groceries: The apartment itself is lovely, and includes an extraordinarily well-equipped kitchen: This is only one corner of the kitchen, about a one third of the total space that also includes built-in washer/dryer, refrigerator, separate freezer, microwave, and dishwasher. There's a counter along one wall that serves as a breakfast bar, with a recess for two bar stools, but we took our breakfast at the small table in front of the french doors so that we could take advantage of the view (which includes the Tejo) and the fresh air:
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