27 June 2011

Portuguese Meal Rules and Greek Alevropita

In the middle of a hectic day at work, I ran down to the cafeteria to grab something to eat for lunch.  Ten minutes later I was sitting at my desk, simultaneously eating a ham sandwich and proofreading a draft on my laptop.  The Portuguese staff came in, saw me, and did a double take.


Because to eat a cold sandwich for lunch while sitting at a desk working is completely oddball American behavior.  My Portuguese co-workers (much like Bacalhau Boy) require lunch at a table! With utensils!  Hot food, and plenty of it.

Things can seem a bit through-the-looking-glass here when it comes to meals.  There are many ways in which a North American visitor might become confused.  Here are the five top mistakes I have made things to remember when eating in Portugal:

20 June 2011

Bacalhau com Natas

If you are reluctant to eat bacalhau because it is fish, and fish is "too healthy and bland"...

If you have ever had a crush on someone who wasn't very good for you...

If you have a cholesterol level under 200 or an overactive metabolism you would like to cure in one night...

THIS is your bacalhau.

14 June 2011

Frango na Púcara, Santo António, and the Marchas Populares

Behold, my first attempt at recreating the deliciousness experienced in Alcobaça, which I raved about in a previous post.  Monday was the Feast of Saint Anthony, a big holiday and day off in Lisbon, so what better way to fill my afternoon than with a couple hours of fussing over some delicious, drunken chicken stew?

12 June 2011

The Great Santini Gelado

Today, Bacalhau Boy and I were three-hour tourists.

Lisbon is emptied of half its inhabitants thanks to a four-day weekend, and poor Bacalhau Boy was stuck working for most of it.  This afternoon we said enough!, and turned the car towards the storybook charming village of Cascais for some strolling in the sun.  Even if we couldn't take a proper vacation, we were going to pretend we did anyhow.

Although Cascais is just 25 miles (40 km) from Lisbon, we rarely visit on weekends.  Today I asked myself why, again and again.

And again.

After a brief wander through the picturesque streets of the old town and some delicious arroz de marisco (shellfish rice) for lunch, we made our way here:

08 June 2011

Bacalhau à Gomes de Sá

Portuguese classics will almost always include six or more of the following ingredients:

1. Bacalhau
2. Onions
3. Garlic
4. Potatoes
5. Eggs
6. Olives
7. Parsley and/or fresh cilantro
8. Lots of olive oil

With these pantry staples, one could create a week's worth of meals, each one different than the last, but each one the same.  It is thrifty and mind boggling-- and something I never much noticed before I started documenting this journey into bacalhau.

I am mildly unsurprised, then, to present a dish which embodies ALL of these ingredients: Bacalhau à Gomes de Sá.

07 June 2011

Perfect American Pie Crust

When it comes time for sweet things in Lisbon, pastelarias will do you just fine. Crisp puff pastry shells filled with custard, wodges of chocolate cake covered in chocolate sprinkles and oozing liquid fudge centers, gooey sweet sponge cake, little meringues called "kisses"... there is a whole compendium of sweets which Portugal does exceedingly well, and which perfectly explains their delightful ritual of the afternoon coffee.

Then, there are the times when all a girl wants is some pie. Pie that makes you feel comforted and at home.  Pie that is the perfect dessert when you have a bounty of fresh fruit in front of you.  Pie that makes you feel a little less homesick.

It's not that you don't see pie on the menu in Portugal, it's just such a different creature it is impossible to take comfort in the taste of it.  There are no pie pans here, only tart pans.  And inevitably the restaurant pie is an industrial-tasting concoction with plenty of gelatinous goop and hard slices of apple smashed in between two rather tough layers of dough, in which not an ounce of buttery goodness can be found.

So, what could I do except go old school and try to quell homesickness with a quest for the perfect pie crust?
My Thanksgiving Table O´ Pie 2010. The quest begins.

04 June 2011

Summer Strawberry Pie

Strawberries taste like summer.  It's hot out.  Eat some.

Add a creamy filling of white chocolate and crispy, flaky crust.  Because you roll like that.

Take a big slice outside with a side of cool breeze and a tall iced coffee.