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Portugal Restaurants: Reviews & Recommendations


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I remember reading this great post you wrote where you listed all the typical dishes of Portugal and thinking "Wow - this guy didn't miss a beat!", as I so agreed with you.

So, whether I come to New York or you come here, I thinik we can safely say we're assured of a good meal, no? :)

Being a musician, I make it my business to miss as few beats as possible, especially when it comes to food!

And yes, I know a few joints in both places que têm boa cozinha--and in these instances, I'm always happy to share! :wink:

Edited by Eric_Malson (log)

My restaurant blog: Mahlzeit!

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Miguel,

We finally made it up to Joao Portugal Ramos's winery near Estremoz, which you mentioned in your PM to me, and as always, you were right--wonderful wine.

As you know, the operation is only seven years old, but he's already making wine that seems to be the talk of Portugal, and the UK, and the US...

We bought half a dozen bottles of his Vila Santa, extremely fruity and just wonderfully frrsh tasting red, as well as three bottles of the Marques de Borba Reserva, 2002, I think it is, which I suspect is a much earthier, more powerful and more "classic" red, but won't try it till we return to Canada, and then may keep it for a while.

From what we could observe on the drive up, there seems to be hundreds of acres of new vines being planted in the area--very exciting. If what Portugal Ramos is doing is any indication, the area will soon by one of Europe's celebrated wine regions. Fascinating to see it in its infancy, and thans again for the tip.

Arthur Johnson, aka "fresco"
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Miguel, et al...

I'm staying in a unit in Abufeira (Algarve) with a kitchen, for a week.

My plans is to spend a few extra days (up to a week) in or near Lisboa.

But probably in a hotel with no cooking facilities... :sad:

Approximately, how long is the drive to Lisboa or Sinstra ???

I MIGHT decide to spend another week, somewhere in Algarve, where I'll have a kitchen and do day-trips to Lisboa/Sintra.

Obrigado !!! :biggrin:

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I'll be there mid-April - HungryTraveler, where did you get that list of markets?  This thread has me even more eager to go! Thanks to Miguel and all :wub:

Hi V.Wang :smile:

Sorry but I didn't see your question earlier :rolleyes:

Here's one of the sites that has information about the local markets as well as other handy info: http://www.algarve-information.com/markets.htm

Will also attempt to send this same info directly to you !

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Approximately, how long is the drive to Lisboa or Sinstra ???

I MIGHT decide to spend another week, somewhere in Algarve, where I'll have a kitchen and do day-trips to Lisboa/Sintra.

Obrigado !!! :biggrin:

That's a long haul through some fairly dull landscape on a high speed highway (with tolls).

Spend a couple of nights in Lisboa or Sintra. I think it would be most lovely to stroll Sintra after a leisurely dinner. Very romantic.

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Approximately, how long is the drive to Lisboa or Sinstra ???

I MIGHT decide to spend another week, somewhere in Algarve, where I'll have a kitchen and do day-trips to Lisboa/Sintra.

Obrigado !!!  :biggrin:

That's a long haul through some fairly dull landscape on a high speed highway (with tolls).

Spend a couple of nights in Lisboa or Sintra. I think it would be most lovely to stroll Sintra after a leisurely dinner. Very romantic.

Obrigado TSquare !!!

Will start looking for accommodations in Sintra/Lisboa area !

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Just returned from a quick week's trip to Portugal, with 3 days in the Algarve and the rest in Lisbon. We travel there 2 to 3 times yearly to visit our daughter and her family. Let me recommend a lovely resaturant in the neighborhood where we stay, a little off the tourist track. It is "Solar dos Nunes" at Rua dos Lusiadas, 68-72, Tel:21 364 7359. Closed Sunday. If you travel by bus or trolley, you'd get off just under the 25 Abril bridge and walk up Rua ? de Oliveira one block, then left one block to the restaurant. We usually go for lunch and choose from the daily specials (be sure you look at the menu in Portuguese for these). Last week we had rice with shellfood, and grilled baby kid - both superb. Of course they always bring "starters" to the table that include olives, wonderful little soft cheeses and often slices of "pata negra" ham. The latter is truly special but expensive. To the contrary the daily specials are exceedingly reasonable and always great. The house red wine from the Alentejo is delicious. The restaurant is traditional and very attractive and the service is wonderful. In Lisbon, we had time for one other restaurant meal and, following an excellent recommendation by Miguel Cardoso, sought out "O Solar dos Leitoes," in the Benfica neighborhood, which specializes in very fresh grilled fish. The neighborhood feels like a small village and it is a surprise to find this lovely little restaurant here. We lunched on grilled "perago"? which was superb accompanied by a fresh salad and delicious boiled potatoes. They have an extensive wine list and prices are reasonable. It's at Travessa Marques Lesbio, 20. Tel:21 778 7587.

In the Algarve, we stayed near Silves and ate only in places recommended by Miguel - Marisqueira Rui in Silves, Vila Lisa, O Sueste in Ferragudo and the Clube da Pesca Desportive in Sao Rafael (west of Albufeira). Highlights at Rui were the "ameijoas a Bulhao Pato," incredibly wonderful with the best juice that you almost want to drink - or at least sop up with the good bread. My 2-yr old granddaughter must have eaten at least 25 clams herself - good girl. Their seafood rice dish is spectacular, and cataplana, and the percebes a fresh taste of the sea. At Vila Lisa the sopa de conquilhas, in a broth with rice was great as was the beef marrow soup with chick peas. Had grilled Robalo at O Sueste and grilled scabbard fish at the Clube da Pesca, both excellent. Loved the atmosphere at the Clube de Pesca -very genuine and family-oriented, and also quite reasonably priced. We also stopped in Guia for grilled chickens to take out (for a final light dinner) and heavenly fresh navel oranges from a roadside stand outside Silves. Miguel says the food in the north is better, but this was very hard to beat. Thanks, Miguel for all the recommendations!

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How sweet and trusting of you to actually follow my recommendations, MMerrill! That's definitely a sign of friendship in my book. And how did you find Solar dos Leitões? Even Lisboans get lost going there. As for Clube da Pesca, you're only the second party - out of about fifty - that have actually found it. Do you have some special navigational sense you'd like to share with the rest of us?

I am so absolutely happy you all enjoyed the food - your grand daughter's demolishing of 25 clams shows there's hope for us all! Perhaps next time we can all gobble up good things together! Thank you so much! :)

Edited by MiguelCardoso (log)
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It helps to be a map fanatic, use the internet, and have a Portuguese son-in-law who will ask directions. It took three stops to find Clube da Pesca, and it was worth the trouble!

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Marisqueira Rui in Silves!

what did you think? I go every time I am in the Algarve (and will be there again next week)! for me the best part of the meal is always the cold prawns + garlic mayonnaise served before what you have ordered!

would like to hear more about Clube da Pesca - am taking my parents, however, and though they like prawns/lobsters they are not wild about the more arcane types of seafood - they are more 'plain grilled fish' types. would this be a good place for them?

thank you! And Miguel, I too have perused your Algarve recommendations - we will also be trying Sudoeste.

Fi

Fi Kirkpatrick

tofu fi fie pho fum

"Your avatar shoes look like Marge Simpson's hair." - therese

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Definitely take your parents to the Clube da Pesca (which is actually called the Clube da Pescadores Desportive, or something close to that). They had a large selection of beautiful fresh fish that they will grill, bake, whatever. It is not a fancy place but comfortable and full of families enjoying the good food. Our fish was served with plenty of delicious bread, fresh salad and wonderful potatoes and lots of olive oil and the little girls had some of everything as well as great soups - carrot, and chick pea. My companions drank beer and I had my own little pitcher of fresh and delightful vinho verde. If you are driving west from the outskirts of Albufeira, following the signs for Sao Rafael, you will enter a valley with a new development of very brightly multi-colored town houses on your left. Not much farther is the left turn to the Clube which sits on the hillside and has a sort of dome with Oceanarium written on it.

We missed the prawns at Rui because I usually find them disappointing in Europe. Will have to try them next visit. But the clams, the seafood rice dish and the cataplana were magnificent. We also had the best waiter ever - doing special things for the children, keeping beer glasses filled, zipping in with finger bowls and clean plates. It is a wonderful restaurant! Wish I were going back next week too.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Definitely take your parents to the Clube da Pesca (which is actually called the Clube da Pescadores Desportive, or something close to that).

MMerrill, thank you for this - I took my parents and we had a really lovely evening - I see what you mean about the 'brightly coloured townhouses' (my god) but the place was full of local people who really do use the club as a club; lots of families; one enormous table of 20 people having fish soup (which looked wonderful). We had really superb prawns fried in olive oil + butter + whole cloves of garlic which I think had been softened in the oil prior as they were soft and delicious; there was a kick of chili to them. They were served with hot buttered toasted country bread - like we needed more butter - but very delicious for juice-soaking. We then had a whole grilled fish, don't know what it was called in English (or indeed in Portuguese) but big, flaky, like a sea bass but slightly bigger flakes, with the steamed potatoes (which my mother particularly enjoyed as they had, in the Scottish parlance, 'a bit of a bane in them', meaning they were ever-so-slightly al dente. Not haute cuisine at all, but simple fresh delicious fish - thank you for this reco!

Fi Kirkpatrick

tofu fi fie pho fum

"Your avatar shoes look like Marge Simpson's hair." - therese

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Curlywurlyfi: what an absolutely wonderful expression "a bit of a bane in them" is! Please thank your mother for me. Potatoes, imported from mysterious South America, were long regarded as poisonous by suspicious Europeans, frightened of their close relationship to the deadly nightshade. So it took an embarassingly long time for us to cotton on to their all-round goodness. The same happened with tomatoes and peppers...

Your mother's comment is all the more intelligent and apposite considering that there was a long, intermediate phase when raw potatoes were still considered a poison, although thoroughly cooked (i.e. overcooked) taters had been cleared. So the Portuguese passion for toothy, waxy potatoes - we hate floury! - has finally been defined. In the cheap and wonderful Clube da Pesca, no less. Very fitting!

But the Scottish expression is sublime because it implies a sort of risk, of putting-your-life-on-the-line bravery which would be ideally applied (and have no doubt I will apply it next time I partake!) to the enjoyment of "fugu" sashimi with just a hint of that gum-numbing, sometimes fatal poison from its delicious liver. Not to mention uncertain mushrooms and certain meals in dubiously hygienic - but delicious - dives.

"Bane" will be, from hereon, my favourite word for 2004. :)

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Don't know whether this is the right forum, but'll post anyway.

Gong to Sheraton Algarve with Mrs Viking and our two Vikingettes for a week starting the 22nd, staying at Sheraton Pine Cliffs, anyone know the on-site restaurants? (Usually I don't go for resort/hotel restaurants in touristy areas, but the hotel looks rather nice, som might give it a shot).

Secondly: Vila Joia provided a superbly memorable meal 12 years back, and we're booked there the 23rd. Any recent experiences?

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Steve Klc and I were recently in Lisbon to take part in a forum on innovation in cooking, to give a demonstration and to judge a national wedding cake competition. While were were there we stayed at the Hotel Lapa Palace, which was simply amazing and consummately professional in every respect, and we enjoyed two very good meals with a very young Portuguese chef named Vitor Claro. Here are the menus and some pictures of his cooking, which was less traditional and more modern in spirit, with apologies in advance about the wine notes, I was writing quickly and in the dark.

Restaurant Pico no Chao in Lisbon owned by Vitor Claro - an up and coming young Chefe de Cozinha--does an a la carte lunch which changes daily and a fixed-price dinner tasting menu which runs for a two week period. Since he is only 23, smart, reflective and quietly confident, Steve and I both agreed he has a very exciting future in cooking ahead of him.

Rua de O seculo 170; Lisboa Tel 21431973

Here is their website http://picanochao.restaunet.pt/en/index.asp

Pico is very small and intimate - 15 seats - but realistically it seemed more like 12 seats. i6019.jpg

Here is Steve and Victor in the tiny kitchen - many people sit at tables bigger than this kitchen -

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it is amazing that so much great food comes out of it.

We enjoyed Victor's tasting menu on our first night in Lisbon - 7 courses E30 (a bit over $30)

Creme de favas com tamboril e molho de soja baunilhado (Broad beans creamed soup with monkfish tartare, vanilla & soy syrup)

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Petisco de azeitonas, tremoscos e braesola (olives, lupines & bresaela appetizer) with Quinta da Alorma Late Harvest 2001

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Peixe do dia salteado com polivinho, legumes e azeite de canela (daily fish pan fried with baby octopus, vegetables and cinnamon oil) with Reigia Colheita Regumgrs D.O.C. 2002

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Pineapple sorbet

Bochecha de porco preto mousse de aipo e pesto de tomate e anchova (black pig cheek with creamed celeriac and tomato and anchovy sauce) with Don Rafael Mouchao 2001

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Pao de lo cremoso com roqueforte e limao, gelado de rum com passas (Creamy sponge cake with roquefort cheese, lemon and rum raisin ice cream) with Limoncetta di Sorrento

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Terrina de ameixa e arroz doce de coco, kumquats, e molho de vinho (plums & coconut sweet rice, kumquats & wine sauce) with Noval Port Tawny Reserve

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Victor changes the menu every 15 days and we were lucky enough to taste a first draft of his new menu. Since we did not get a menu I do not have the Portuguese:

Creamy Cauliflower soup with foie gras and with sea bream, Quinta del Orna wine

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Two amuse: Shrimp with spicy chocolate sauce and percebes (barnacles) with gelee (lime, chervil)

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Black pork sausage appetizer with asparagus and warm pesto of tomato and anchovy

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Beef with vegetables, cinnamon oil and black truffle with Regia Colheita wine, also tried a Meandro Red wine from Duro in the North of Portugal which Vitor said comes from the same estate as Barca Velia used to come from. It is a very young wine intended to be drunk young (2001) Just started releasing this in 1999

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Lamb tenderloin from the saddle chop with marscapone, tomato and olive pesto

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Goat cheese with baby corn and chocolate chocolate chip sorbet

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Pate a brik with sweet egg filling and saffron ginger whipped cream and raspberry with J.P Moscatel de Setubal

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Great pics and description. I'm thinking of finishing off a culinary trip to Spain in October with a few days in Portugal. My question is how best to spend them? Lisbon, the Algarve and Douro are all extremely enticing as well as other areas. Figure three nights. I know that it is not enough time to get anything remotely resembling a comprehensive overview, but what I want is a beguiling taste. Any eGulleteers available to meet for a meal then?

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Hmm, it seems like something is moving in Portugal's cooking scene.

Did you get the impression that Vitor's offering was the only one in that style, or there's a trend in Portugal to move towards the use of sophisticated techniques?

PS1: Thanks for the post and the pictures, chefette. They're great!

PS2: Docsconz, I'm sure we'll be able to arrange a good meal in October if you are around.

PedroEspinosa (aka pedro)

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I'll chime in with my impression, Pedro, and I can only contribute an outsider's "sense" after my two too-short visits this past year and my discussions with maybe 20-25 of the best chefs and pastry chefs there: my gut tells me it will be a long time before the very traditional forces firmly entrenched within Portugal allow much movement. Either that, or the few modern-leaning chefs have to keep getting better, keep refining their work, keep fighting the odds to the point that their excellence and brilliance is undeniable within two of these three segments 1) within the professional chef community--which is VERY traditional and against change--2) abroad and 3) reinforced not only by savvy tourists who visit but also by open-minded residents--who see creative capable of exisiting side-by-side traditional (not better or worse just a different excellence.) It wouldn't hurt if they got some city government or tourist board support (if there is such a thing) since talk of modern chefs in addition to strong traditional cooking tends to drive articles in the foreign press and would drive even more visitors to Lisbon--which is an incredibly beguiling and affordable city. But too many forces, with strength in numbers, seem allied against movement. I got the sense Lisbon residents didn't even realize how amazingly fortunate they are to have something so modern and relevant as the Belem Cultural Center and Design Museum there. But driving every day from Belem up and down the river, from bridge to bridge, it is inescapable: this waterfront area is developing, more upscale condos and hotels will be springing up, more upscale restaurants and clubs will spring up to compete and to service that demand, and this is where an increasing number of internationally savvy tourists will frequent--I fully expect more innovative cuisine to rise up to serve this audience.

Vitor didn't display any "sophisticated" techniques other than a mental freedom to be more personal and more adventurous--the soy and vanilla with fava and monkfish tartare for instance--he was not any more sophisticated technique-wise than what one might experience at the Pestana Palace or at the hands of any of the other talented French-leaning chefs or pastry chefs in Lisbon, of which there are many more than a few. (We unfortunately didn't get to sample Miguel's number one pastry recommendation, Fabien Nguyen of the Casa de Cha at the Tavares Rico because it closed eariler than we could get there on our one free night. But everyone else should try!) But Vitor's kitchen was, frankly, an under-equipped closet by US home standards and he innately eschews what some casual eGulleteers might call the Adria tricks. What do I mean by that? He doesn't have an ice cream machine let alone a Pacojet, he knows the proper place of espumas--i.e. not to be used indiscriminately--and I don't believe he served us a single foam in the 17 dishes of his which I saw or tasted! What he demonstrated was more of a willingness to look beyond Portuguese tradition and borders, to Spain (he did a stage with Santi Santamaria at El Raco de Can Fabes) and to France, the fact that he was unafraid of salt was a dead giveaway he cooked under Antoine Westermann at the Hotel Fortaleza do Guincho. Any failure of his--like the coconut sweet rice plum thing which was a disaster--was more than balanced by something brilliant--like that roquefort pao de lo, which still resonates weeks later.

The demo pastry chefs at HOREXPO were me (doing a modern version of arroz doce which Vitor graciously translated for the audience) and Michel Willaume, now with Sole Graells based in Barcelona (he did his Pastry World Cup winning entremet) and the chefs were Vitor and Fausto Airoldi of Bica do Sapato who were very generous with their time. Whatever forward-thinking we displayed was very well-received by the audience. But I found Vitor, the pupil, to be the more adventurous and rewarding cook of the two who put together the more interesting dishes and meals--but then that comparison isn't fair to the more-experienced Fausto because Fausto, the teacher, didn't cook a tasting menu for us, we ordered only once from the menu. Bica is wonderfully stylish, with a super view of the river and I bet has won all sorts of restaurant design awards and loyalty from the see and be seen crowd--but it is also high volume, succeeding very well for its volume, and Fausto supervises rather than cooks hands-on these days. (Incidentally, my poor education was reinforced in the company of these chefs--both Vitor and Fausto speak perfect English and Michel is fluent in French, Spanish and English.)

Vitor has a champion in Portugal in Paulo Amado, the young forward-thinking Director of Inter magazine and head of Edicoes do Gosto Publicoes--and having that "in" always helps younger chefs. But Paulo is also smart enough to know he has to serve all segments of cooking and pastry--he's very active on behalf of all the more traditional regional chef and pastry chef associations and that means he won't slight the French-leaning or the older more traditional cooks from the Algarve or from the North in the process. (I've invited Vitor to come to New York and cook in November at the International Hotel, Motel & Restaurant Show, we'll see if he can get away from his family and restaurant for the trip.)

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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my gut tells me it will be a long time before the very traditional forces firmly entrenched within Portugal allow much movement. Either that, or the few modern-leaning chefs have to keep getting better, keep refining their work, keep fighting the odds to the point that their excellence and brilliance is undeniable within two of these three segments 1) within the professional chef community--which is VERY traditional and against change(...)

Many thanks to chefette and to Steve for the superb report from Pica no Chão (which tallies perfectly with my experience there, thanks to a recommendation from Steve himself) and for the wise words - spot on! - about the prospects for creative cuisine in Portugal.

Above all, I'm touched by how gracious you both were. As I've said elsewhere, wherever I went I heard very endearing reports about your stay in Lisbon and how open and welcoming you both were.

I should say, however, that although there are a handful of very good modern chefs working in Lisbon (Vítor Sobral and Júlia Vinagre are world-class), Portuguese cuisine is indeed VERY traditional and VERY conservative. It all depends where you stand on this question. For the record, I'm all in favour - there are so many places in the world where you can get innovative cuisine. In Portugal - a small country, remember - it's good that we stick to our guns and obsessively reproduce a cuisine that has stood the test of time. Very fresh ingredients, "simply" cooked ("simply" is an illusion - it's actually very, very difficult and requires years and years of experience to correctly grill, steam or boil fish, for instance) and served in an unpretentious setting, for prices substantially lower than the rest of Western Europe.

Portugal is divided into several very distinct regions and there are thousands of great dishes which are complex preparations and require even more expertise. Most great restaurants and cooks have been specializing in one (rarely two) dishes for decades. They know what they're doing and no other Portuguese restaurant can come close, obviously.

We don't experiment; we have no taste for novelty - all our curiosity is devoted to the traditional dishes of other countries, of which we are avid consumers. What we want is predictable, reliable, delicious-tasting, freshly-made (and served only on that day of the week!) food, well served and as cheap as possible.

This may be lamentable to some but it's just the way we are. :)

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In general - my thoughts about Lisbon were that it seems as if it has languished neglected and unchanged for a long time (like in a time bubble) but that recently there has been a restart and suddenly the wheels are turning again, blood is moving through the arteries and veins and things are starting to change. From the meals we had it was hard to say what the state of things culinary was. We ate lunch twice at the Expo prepared one day by the Junior Culinary Olympic Team, and the next day by the Senior Team. Both meals were really nicely presented and seemed in line with things that you see come out of such groups in the US and in France - but I am not a good judge of that.

My thought on the cooking and cuisine is that there is new money coming into Portugal, new interests, new visibility, new alignments, new competitiveness for tourism and with the modernization, with upgrades and rebuilding, with new tourism and new visibility come new demands, new expectations and that what may have been great for 500 years is being adapted. I think that Spain and to some extent Italy went through much the same thing about 10 or 20 years ago - the transition from local & traditional to more international & to varying degrees more modern cuisine. I think that there was much bemoaning that move but at the same time this awakening and changing brought alot of new energy, excitement, and innovative thinking to the cooking there. I get the sense that this is starting to happen in Portugal.

I know that I missed out on alot since I don't care for fish and seafood. I really liked the Black Pork though. Plus, they have some really great, really under-appreciated wine.

I think that chefs like Vitor seem hungry and excited to try new things, do new things but it does seem as though it is hard to move in the directions they want to go since the consumer base appears to prefer the more traditional, but where there is one - there is usually another and chefs like Vitor (who seems aglow with excitement for creative cooking) who are just beginning their career and get encouragement I think will ultimately influence and affect many more chefs. Maybe we are seeing the trickle at the source of the Amazon River.

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Chefette,

I couldn't agree with you more about Lisbon. When I was there recently for an assignment for Bon Appétit, I found the same thing. It is coming alive, thanks to the influx of money, trade, and tourism. The Lisboetas are grasping the concept of competive business and are offering better services. The food, too, is moving in interesting directions. I'm sure there'll always be comidas tipicas, because that's the heritage of the country, but I believe that as younger chefs who are infleunced by other parts of the Europe and America take the helm, we'll see a shift in the cuisine. All the people I interviewed said they believe that within the next decade Lisbon will be one of Europe's hottest food and tourism destinations in Europe.

David Leite

Leite's Culinaria

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  • 1 month later...

I haven't yet visited Portugal, but plan to at the end of a culionary trip to Barcelona and San Sebastien in October. I know that it is not enoughtime for anything more than a taste. I'm hoping to whet my appetite for further adventures. My question is what would be the best way to do this? I am particularly interested in the fresh fish and shellfish as has been so mouth-wateringly described here as well as getting a sample of the sites, culture and history. Three possibilities that come to mind are Lisbon, the Algarve and Oporto. Any thoughts? Miguel?

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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I used to live in the Algarve in the 70s and 80s but I hear it's been way over-developed. One place that is truly magical is the mountains north of Lisbon where the royalty whiled away hot summers: SINTRA.

I'm sure those who live there now will weigh in with more current recomendations for food but Seteais in Sintra is really something to see. It's about 45mins from Lisbon and quite a car-ride if I recall.

October is beautiful there. I'm jealous... :sad:

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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Dear Doc:

The truth is you can go anywhere, but that kinda ruins the fun. Wherever you go in Portugal, at whatever time, you'll encounter the same philosophy of enjoyment. Perhaps a better word would be "mentality", as it's an overriding factor.

It all depends on how long you'll be here. I assume it's less than a week. Well, for a crash course in the best of both I'd recommend you come to Lisbon. The North has good fish and shellfish, but it's mainly cold-water; the South has a different set, mostly warm-water.

What is truly unique about Portugal is the Setúbal-Sesimbra-Lisbon-Guincho-Ericeira-Peniche mid-country Atlantic region which produces the best fish and shellfish in the world, as it's not too warm amd not too cold - but perfect.

The fish you want, which have nothing to do with the insipid, mealy Mediterranean versions or the cold, tasteless Northern Atlantic ones) are: pargo (sea bream); carapau (horse mackerel); salmonete (red mullet); sargo (rock bream); garoupa (Atlantic grooper); cherne (wreck fish); linguados de Cascais (Dover soles); pregados(turbots); robalos do Cabo da Roca (real sea bass); douradas de Peniche (dourades); rodovalhos (brills). as well as sardines. These are all sublime.

The shellfish list is longer but no less captivating.

Come to Lisbon and, in Lisbon, for all the best fish, go to "Solar dos Leitôes" (say I recommended you) in the Calhariz de Benfica. It's a magnificent restaurant, truly Portuguese (cheap, familar, unpretentious) and the phone number is 21-885-1024. For the shellfish go to Ramiro, in the centre of Lisbon, in the Almirante Reis. The number is 21-885-1024.

In these two places you can sample the best of Portugal.

I hate to leave this on the Internet but, since I've enjoyed and profited from your contributions here, I couldn't resist.

My ideal programme? At least 7 days. In Solar dos Leitões and Ramiro you can sample, cheaply and in typically familiar surroundings, the best of Portugal.

(I shall erase this comment in 2 days time, so please jot down the details). :)

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