In my previous visits here, the focus was either on seafood, or local, family-owned restaurants. But Portuguese food is quite rich, varied, and distinct. Simple grilled fish is always a great option. Meat dishes tend to be slow cooked. And of course, Portuguese wine is a big deal here. Much like other countries on the Mediterranean, olive oil is also a big part of cooking and their culture.
I distinctly remember the quality of the cheeses and bread on my previous visits. And no meal is ever complete without the famous custard tart, pastel de nata, and a cup of expresso.
But salted cod is the “national” dish, even though most of it comes from Norway these days. Bacalhau has its origin in the days before refrigeration, as a means of preserving fish. About 25,000 tons are imported yearly. And there are about a thousand recipes, the best of which calls for soaking the cod in water to remove the salt. Most commonly it is baked or “stars” in a casserole, or shredded with scrambled eggs, onions, and fried potatoes.
But here are twelve other must haves on your culinary journey:
- Pastel de nata (custard tart) quite delicious
- Octopus with olive oil and potatoes
- Porco preto (Iberian black pork) another favorite
- Arroz de pato (duck rice)
- Grilled sardines (Mike’s favorite)
- Francesinha (Little Frenchie) a stack of cured, wet ham, linguica, steak or roast beef, and melted cheese, often with a fried egg, on thick bread, drowned in hot tomato and beer sauce, served with french fries.
- Arroz de marisco (seafood rice) one of my favorites
- Acorda (bread soaked in broth) sounds awful but has lots of seafood added
- Queijo (cheese) try to find a place with a great cheese cart
- Prego (steak sandwich) prego means nail, for the garlic cloves pounded into the steak before cooking
- Leitao assado (suckling pig) a spit roasted, whole hog affair, similar to the Hawaiian celebration luau
- Cataplana de marisco (seafood stew) clams are treasured in this dish
I noticed the sausage is quite different here, not at all like the Portuguese sausage or linguiça from Hawaii. Here, it is stuffed with chicken or game bird meat, then compacted with bread. It is most often served with a fried egg and fries. It can catch you by surprise, especially when eaten at the golf course. I was expecting a typical pork sausage, and got this, which was different but pretty good. The beer made it taste better.
Caldo verde is a cabbage soup with a smoky flavor imparted by copious amounts of barbecued sausage.
Some meals are best completed with Salame de Chocolate, a chocolate “salami” consisting of dark chocolate, nuts and broken up cookies. Perhaps a glass of port would go well with this?
I recall very little from my meals here, other than they were both tasty, and affordable. And with plenty of good wine and port.