I am very fortunate that I come from a close and loving family. Don’t get me wrong we have our eccentricities and not the Waltons, but I count my blessings for my wonderful weird family. It’s been a few years that we’ve had a full family holiday away together for one reason or other. But this September my parents were celebrating their 35th wedding anniversary which is no mean feat. Also they’ve been married multiple times without being divorced between each time, which needs some explaining as they had their first wedding 35 years ago, then for my Dad’s 50th my mum surprised him and took us to Rome to celebrate and arranged to renew their vows in the only non Catholic church in the whole of Rome. So for their 35th they decided that we would head to a city we hadn’t been to before and find a nice spot to exchange some chosen words on their anniversary. Lovely stuff isn’t it.
We packed our bags and had a glass of bubbles at the departure lounge which is the correct way to start a family holiday heading to Lisbon!
For our first morning in Lisbon, I had arranged for us all to take part in a food tour along the #28 Tram route of Campo de Ourique. I had done a food tour in Rome earlier in the year and loved the experience of discovering a neighbour you might not of visited but through their food offerings. Check out Taste of Lisboa and the wonderful selection of tours and courses you can take part with the fabulous Filipa. She was a fantastic guide putting up with our silliness and random food and Lisbon questions. She also kindly helped with some other bookings of restaurants. And oh boy did she have some foodie treats ready for us to try!
Our first stop and our breakfast was a place that literally means ‘The Best Chocolate Cake in the World‘ which is no small title! Three layers of crispy meringue, each separated by oozing, rich chocolate mousse, and covered in deep delicious chocolate glaze. Paired with a deep rich espresso, this is the way I want to start all of my days! The cakes come in two styles, traditional chocolate with 53% cocoa, and dark semi-sweet with 70% cocoa, they kindly gave us a sample of the milk chocolate version to try. I personally preferred the dark chocolate version as it wasn’t as sweet and too moorish!
We headed to the Mercado Campo de Ourique (local food market) to take in the sights of all the incredible produce on offer. When I visit places like this I always wish that in the UK we had the same level of connection as to where are food comes from. I think we are getting better but can you imagine these fish displays in the UK??
In the market we stopped for Fried Mangetout and Fava Bean and Chorizo Salad. The mangetout in Portuguese are described as the sardines of the garden, which I really like the sound of! Hot crisp batter encasing the sweet tender mangetout was perfect to break up the sweetness of our breakfast. The salad was fresh with meaty nuggets that added a smokey note to the dish. Great to mop up the juices with fresh bread.
You can’t come to Portugal without trying at least one Pastel de nana or Custard Tart. But they are so much more than your boring tarts that you were forced to eat by elderly relatives. These are super sexy with a puff pastry base, soft set custard that has a satisfying wobble and a healthy dusting of cinnamon and icing sugar on top. Pure heaven.
I mean, even my brother who doesn’t like custard ate his fair share of these little tarts while we were away.
The sweet theme continued at Resves Gelataria, with a scoop of Fig Cheese Ice Cream. A super cute gourmet ice cream palour with some interesting flavours to try out like eucalyptus and melon. The fig that we tried had a fantastic complex flavour of almonds, the earthy figs and a hint of aniseed. A really interesting flavour. a very grown up flavour to be savoured.
Another savoury stop at Flagrante Delitro, the home of famous Portuguese poet and writer Fernando Pessoa who not only wrote under his own name but that of approximately seventy-five others which held their own personalities and styles.
We had traditional Codfish Cakes with a bean salad which again was a welcome break from the delicious sweetness of the previous dishes. Salted Cod is a bit of a divider product that some people love it and others hate it. I’m borderline. I’m not a huge fish fan but the saltiness of the cod and the crisp batter with the uncomplex rice was perfect to have in the sun.
Sadly we had come to our last stop on the tour, Cantina at Hotel da Estrela is part of a hospitality college where the students have practical on site training of managing the restaurants and the hotel. The restaurant is super interesting format that on the menu each dish there is a price bracket and the consumer can pay as much they think the quality of the food and service is deserved. A great incentive for a great experience.
With a glass of chilled green tea, we lounged and savoured the Sponge cake, made with lot’s of egg yolks and sugar. Many of the desserts are egg yolk rich as the whites were used to starch clothes of the wealthy by the nuns and monks in the monasteries and the yolks were in huge surplus, hence lot’s of tempting golden dessert. This was light as air and similar to an egg yolk marshmallow with a hint of cinnamon. A great way to finish such a fun tour and we had to find a spot to have a nap after. If you are heading to a new city, see if there is a food tour to take part in as they are a great way to have a nose around the city and pick up history of the place and the people.
We strolled through the Botanical Garden to digest all that wonderful food in the sun.
You know I love a good food blog to get tips on where to eat while we’re away. The place I found for dinner was Tasca da Esquina and super happy with the choice. The food was great and would definitely recommend a visit. We started with gooey local cheese smeared on warm cheese, crisp croquettes and olives.
I went for the cold apple soup with fresh curd cheese, a silky smooth soup bursting with fresh flavours and the hint of creamy tang from the curd. Great way to start the meal.
Sautéed Quail followed in a rich white wine, garlic and bay sauce. Tender flesh and seasoned skin just a perfect plate of delicious morsels.
Another fresh dish that we order was the Curd Cheese, Peppers and Pennyroyal. Pennyroyal is a type of mint and really added a zing to and fresh note. I really want to try out this dish when Summer finally comes back around.
My auntie ordered the Black Pork Toasts. Crisp wafers of cured ham, sandwiched between shards of sour dough on a bed of aubergine purée.
To get some veggies I went with the Roasted Mushrooms with Mint with a divine layer of ooze cheese and fresh mint and parsley and crisp courgette.
Not sure how I managed a dessert after all of those great dishes I don’t know but I went for the Floating Islands. Meringues poached in a custard with a good dose of cinnamon. Light and cooling and a great way to end the evening of great food.
Next day the sun was shining and we got exploring…
Obsessed with the ceramics everywhere…
It’s like being back in Bristol…
Captain Oddball fancied a small about of Candy Floss….
Stay tuned for Part 2!
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