If you visit Lisbon you’ll find some new tastes and flavours to try, from unpretentious home style cooking to gourmet fare. As a city Lisbon looks towards the sea and the seafood here is a delight, with the long history of Portuguese explorers seeking out far flung shores to add some extra spice to the cuisine. Then there are the influences of Portugal’s former colonies; the pichana steaks from Brazil, the spicy grilled piri-piri chicken or the African flavours of Cape Verde, Mozambique and Angola.
Casa do Alentejo restaurant in Lisbon
Everywhere you’ll find the traditional salt cod or bacalhau served as a thick chunk of fish in a sauce or as a starter, mixed with potato and fried in small croquettes or pasteis do bacalhau. We found an excellent example cooked with sweet red peppers at Casa do Alentejo, a kind of working man’s club for those who flocked to the big city to find work, from the rural Alentejo region south of Lisbon, set in a tiled Moorish Mansion. Climb up the steps and through the internal courtyard to the restaurant rooms with traditional painted Azulejo tiles to try home cooked favourites like pork stew with clams and almond tart for desert.
Salt cod or Bacalhau in Lisbon
The displays of ultra fresh or still alive seafood in many restaurants may give you the impression of being in an aquarium and there are endless places to try some clams, lobster or simply cooked fresh fish. We climbed up through the charming cobbled streets of the Chiado neighbourhood and found Cervejaria Trinidade, set in a building that dates back to the 1700s, originally as a monastery and later as a brewery. You’ll find a great range of beers here as well as the display of seafood in the entrance. We ate a simple bowl of giant prawns with bread and salad in a large room with mosaic wall decorations and a mural of the monks who looked as if they were also enjoying their beer.
Seafood at Cervejaria Trinidade restaurant in Lisbon
If you visit any of the seaside resorts close to Lisbon in summer you’ll be able to try a plate of grilled sardines, their delicious aroma drawing you in from the street. At other times of year you can buy an interesting souvenir at Conserveira de Lisboa, a small shop close to Castelo de Sao Jorge, that specialises in tins of sardines and other tinned fish, stacked up on the shelves in their colourful, kitsch wrapping paper.
Conserveira de Lisboa in Lisbon
For a little something to wash down your meal, there are many delicious local wines to choose from, but if you want to sip something stronger then look for an aperitif of white or red port – you can try a huge range of varieties at the Solar do Vinho do Porto (the Port Wine Institute) in the Bairro Alto neighbourhood. For something even more unusual there’s the cherry liqueur sold in small booth-like shops like a Ginginha close to the church of San Domingos, sold as a shot to drink on the street and perfect for a nightcap on a warm summer evening.
Pasteis de Belem in Lisbon
If you have a sweet tooth, you won’t be able to pass by the many pastry shops without trying the Pasteis de Nata that gives a typical taste of Lisbon .It’s a sweet tart with a crisp flaky pasty case and warm creamy custard filling perfumed with vanilla. You’ll find them in every bakery and even be offered them for breakfast in your hotel, but the best known place to try them in Lisbon is at the Antiga Confeitaria de Belem near the Monastery of Jeronimus. The tiny shop is always crowded with locals and tourists queuing to get their fix of the Pasteis de Belem as they’re known here. The story goes that the recipe was sold to the bakery by the monks at the nearby monastery when they fell on hard times and is a closely guarded secret. You can take your Pasteis and eat them in the nearby park with a view of the river Tagus or go through the shop into the surprisingly large rabbit warren on cafe rooms behind where they sell pastries and lunchtime snacks.
But be warned, once you’ve tried those creamy, vanilla Pasteis de Nata, you’ll find your mouth watering with the memory of that sweet taste of Lisbon.
To start planning your cheap holiday to Portugal head over to Sunshine.co.uk – You’ll find plenty of Estoril hotels that are great for a relaxing beach holiday and a short distance from the sights and tastes of Lisbon.
Casa do Alentejo, Rua das Portas de Santo Antão, 58, 1150-069, Close to Av. Liberdade, Lisbon Tel 213405140
Cervejaria Trinidade , Rua Nova da Trinidade, Chiado, 20C – Lisbon, Tel 213 423 506
Conserveira de Lisboa. Rua dos Bacalhoeiros, 34, 1100-071 Lisbon Tel. 351 218 864 009
A Ginginha, Largo de Sao Domingos, 8, Lisbon
Solar do Vinho do Porto, Rua de São Pedro de Alcântara 45, Bairro Alto, Lisbon, Tel. 351 213 475 707
Antiga Confeitaria de Belém, 84-92 Rua de Belém 1300-085, Belém, Lisbon
Posted : Monday, June 28th, 2010 at 09:50
Heather Cowper is the author of “Heather on her Travels“, a blog she started to share her passion for her travel experiences with her friends and quickly became as passionate about her travel writing.