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An American in Portugal Tours http://americaninportugaltours.com “Experience Portugal, The Way I Do Everyday, Through The Love of Food & Drink” Thu, 02 Jul 2015 15:45:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.4.5 Peixe em Lisboa Revisted with Restaurant Pap’Açorda http://americaninportugaltours.com/peixe-em-lisboa-revisted-with-restaurant-papacorda/ http://americaninportugaltours.com/peixe-em-lisboa-revisted-with-restaurant-papacorda/#comments Fri, 08 May 2015 20:21:39 +0000 http://americaninportugaltours.com/?p=1691 Deprecated: Non-static method PageLinesTemplate::page_type_breaker() should not be called statically in /home/american/public_html/wp-content/themes/pagelines/includes/library.options.php on line 119

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  It’s been two years since the last time the American In Portugal dynamic duo (my fabulous food photographer friend Rochelle Ramos and myself) paid a visit to Peixe em Lisboa.  Translated to “Fish In Lisbon”, this is the capital’s most known local food and wine event, featuring chefs and restaurants from in [...]]]>
 

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Samplings from Restaurante Pap’Açorda, our favorite out of Peixe em Lisboa. -Photo by Rochelle Ramos

It’s been two years since the last time the American In Portugal dynamic duo (my fabulous food photographer friend Rochelle Ramos and myself) paid a visit to Peixe em Lisboa.  Translated to “Fish In Lisbon”, this is the capital’s most known local food and wine event, featuring chefs and restaurants from in and around the greater Lisbon area, showcasing the region’s love of fresh (and majority local) fish and seafood in both traditional and modern/fusion dishes.  Each year, a group of known chefs and restaurants are invited to participate, along with other local wine and food vendors, and some have become repeats over the years while others rotate in and out.  The first time we went to Peixe em Lisboa in 2012 with fellow Lisbon guide Mary H. Goudie , we interviewed the then, up and coming Chef José Avillez and sampled several of his dishes, along with some tasty stuff from 100 Maneiras, which I chronicled on here in “Peixe Em Lisboa “Lisbon Fish & Flavors”-A Portuguese Gastronomic Event That Deserves More”.  We decided to return the following year and this time I featured our experience on Catavino- “Peixe em Lisboa: Exploring Restaurant SeaMe in Lisbon” where we interviewed Filipe Rodrigues, another innovative chef who had been cooking up some amazingly delicious fusion fish and seafood dishes at SeaMe.   After taking a year off from the event in 2014, we got a good reminder to return this year from the improved social media advertising the event has been getting more recently. So we conceded to come back and see if Peixe was still fun the third time around.  And indeed it was!

For Peixe em Lisboa 2015, we decided to turn to a classic Portuguese restaurant to feature, and managed to snag an interview with Chef Manuela Brandão of Pap’Açorda.  Co-owned surprisingly by American actor John Malkovich, Pap’Açorda is one of the most well-known traditional Portuguese restaurants in downtown Lisbon, and has been in business since 1981! With successfully surviving over three decades, the restaurant has really carved out a notch in the city’s food culture, serving up its namesake açorda– a traditional Portuguese dish similar to stuffing, normally made with seafood or saltcod (along with a meat variation done there), as well as many more classic Lisbon fish and seafood dishes and a very famous chocolate mousse.  Though it’s a bit pricey for a traditional style restaurant, locals continue to praise it and had always assured me that it’s worth the money to go and enjoy this historical Lisbon food icon.  Thus, I was curious to find out!

<strong>Chef Manuela Brandão from Pap'Açorda. -Photo by Rochelle Ramos</strong>

Chef Manuela, who has been at Pap’Açorda since the beginning, also continues to express the same passion and enthusiasm for cooking as when she started there over 30 years ago.  Although a bit shy at first, she warmed up to us and explained how she normally prefers to stay behind the scenes and focus on her craft, rather than playing to the media.  This probably explains why we had never heard of her name in the restaurant industry here, despite her being an integral part of such a known Lisbon eatery.    As exampled in her dishes, Manuela likes to keep it simple and delicious, letting the local/seasonal ingredients speak for themselves, which is one of the best features of traditional Portuguese cuisine.

Listening to Chef Manuela Brandão talking about her over 30 years experience working in the kitchen of Pap’Açorda. -Photos by Rochelle Ramos

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First we sampled their cavala alimada- a cold salad dish of Atlantic chub mackerel marinated with a simple garlic and red onion vinaigrette, it’s a great method to smooth out the stronger flavor of the mackerel.

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Filete de Cavala Alimada- Atlantic Chub Mackerel marinated in a garlic and red onion vinaigrette from Pap’Açorda. -Photo by Rochelle Ramos

Next, we tried one of their breaded sardine fillets, a not-so-traditional preparation for a traditional Lisbon fish, yet simple and satisfying.  The light citrus salad Manuela paired with it was also a nice contrast to the rich flavor of the sardine.

Filete da Sardinha panada- Breaded sardine fillet with a simple citrus salad. -Photo by Rochelle Ramos

Thirdly, we dug into Pap’Açorda’s take on the traditional Portuguese fried fish fillets with seafood rice, but instead of using the typical pescada– hakeChef Manuela opted for peixe Galo– John Dory fillets and mixed in fresh local berbigões– cockles into the rice.  This created a much smoother and more satisfying flavor on an otherwise ordinary dish, it ended up being my favorite out of the fish dishes at the entire event.

“Filetes de Peixe Galo com Arroz de Berbigão”- John Dory fish fillets and stewed rice with fresh cockles from Pap’Açorda. -Photo by Rochelle Ramos

It was refreshing to meet a female Portuguese chef that has managed to do so well for so long, yet she hasn’t seem to have gotten nearly as much credit as her male counterparts in the industry here.  I think this is a shame in some ways, because we need to see more talented female chefs not just here in Lisbon, but in the global restaurant industry overall.  Here in Portugal, it’s a common fact that the majority of the typical Portuguese tascas– the traditional family restaurants that always put out simple, delicious food- do so well because of the powerhouse female cooks in the back pumping out this great stuff day after day.  And they are not making anywhere near as much money or getting as much appreciation as the known male chefs in the cities’ fine-dining establishments, and who rarely stay in business half as many years as these tascas.   Pap’Açorda then appears to be one of the few, high-end restaurants that has managed to have maintained the same lifespan as a reliable tasca, and perhaps this is because of humble, focused female chefs like Manuela.  Girl power!

Listening to Chef Manuela’s story. -Photo by Rochelle Ramos

In a heavenly finale to our tasting, we tried Manuela’s signature chocolate mousse.  While this dish wouldn’t outwardly appear to be traditionally Portuguese, it’s actually quite a staple in the cuisine here, and I have tried many a chocolate mousse over the years at various birthday parties, picnics, family dinners etc.  However, this one was BY FAR THE BEST chocolate mousse I have ever had, anywhere in the world!  And I am normally not a big chocolate mousse fan either, but both Rochelle and I, as well as our other friends who had joined us, gobbled down Manuela’s mousse like it was our last meal!  It most definitely lived up to its hype, and has obviously contributed to Pap’Açorda’s continued fame.

The best chocolate mousse EVER- Chef Manuela’s secret recipe! -Photo by Rochelle Ramos

I really enjoyed talking with Chef Manuela, she was wonderfully down-to-earth and honest.  When asked what she thought of the other restaurants and chefs here, she said she liked them all and couldn’t pick out a favorite. She told me: “We all work in this industry together and we have happily traded our dishes with each other to sample during the event, it’s like family.”  It was so nice to hear such an experienced chef say something like this, one who thankfully has not lost her sense of humility and compassion.  After such a great experience, I look forward to visiting Chef Manuela at Pap’Açorda in the near future to sample the rest of the menu, and I hope she keeps up that spirit!

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#TeamWork: Chef Manuela with her Peixe co-pilot, Sous Chef Fabio Pereira from Restaurante Bica do Sapato, both restaurants are under the same ownership, so they often help each other out on large events. -photo by Rochelle Ramos

Trufas de Mousse de Chocolate- Chef Manuela’s Chocolate Mousse Truffles, little bite-size pieces of heaven :) -Photo by Rochelle Ramos

Overall, we enjoyed our time at Peixe em Lisboa, we sampled some wines from both José Maria da Fonseca, the event’s main wine sponsor, as well as from some of the other local wineries.  The ticketing like I mentioned in the first year is still a bit silly with only one wine and one food tasting, but one can still work with it and purchase more tastings during the event if they wish.  And whether traditional or modern, I hope Peixe em Lisboa continues to showcase Lisbon’s great restaurants and Portugal’s love for fresh fish!

Peixe em Lisboa- I think we’ll be back next year!

 

Cheers,

Andrea and Rochelle

Jarred and canned Portuguese fish from Manna for sale at Peixe em Lisboa. -Photo by Rochelle Ramos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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One of several local Lisbon wine vendors at Peixe em Lisboa. -Photo by Rochelle Ramos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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An American In Portugal On Bizarre Foods’ Lisbon http://americaninportugaltours.com/an-american-in-portugal-on-bizarre-foods-lisbon/ http://americaninportugaltours.com/an-american-in-portugal-on-bizarre-foods-lisbon/#comments Mon, 03 Nov 2014 16:17:16 +0000 http://americaninportugaltours.com/?p=1653 Deprecated: Non-static method PageLinesTemplate::page_type_breaker() should not be called statically in /home/american/public_html/wp-content/themes/pagelines/includes/library.options.php on line 119

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It’s been a busy and successful year so far for this American in Portugal! Throughout the past 10 months, I’ve had the pleasure of hosting numerous guests on my food and drink adventures in and around Lisbon. We visited some fabulous food markets, sampled some scrumptious Portuguese cured meats and cheese, dined in traditional style with some [...]]]>
Selfie with Andrew Zimmern while taking him on my Eat & Drink Like A Local- Morning Tour for Bizarre Foods' Lisbon!

Selfie with Andrew Zimmern while taking him on my Eat & Drink Like A Local- Morning Tour for Bizarre Foods’ Lisbon!

It’s been a busy and successful year so far for this American in Portugal!

Throughout the past 10 months, I’ve had the pleasure of hosting numerous guests on my food and drink adventures in and around Lisbon. We visited some fabulous food markets, sampled some scrumptious Portuguese cured meats and cheese, dined in traditional style with some charming locals and savored hundreds of bicas and bolas de Berlim.  

It was back in July though when I was given the opportunity to tour around one of the most famous foodies himself, Andrew Zimmern of Bizarre Foods!  I was contacted by the Travel Channel some months before as they were beginning to plan their Lisbon episode and ended up being one of Andrew’s guides for a segment of the show!  So Andrew got to experience the complete itinerary of my Eat & Drink Like A Local- Morning tour and he had an awesome time.  Despite not knowing any Portuguese, he really bonded with the locals, especially the old ladies (who had no clue who he was), and at the market they were inviting him home for dinner by the end!  I also taught him a lot about Portuguese food history and how it’s so ingrained into their culture, and he got to meet the people whose stories and homemade dishes I learned this from.  I think he left wanting to come back soon for more!

I don’t want to give away anything else about our segment or the rest of the show, so you’ll just have to tune in tonight for the premiere- Monday, Nov. 3rd at 9/8c on the Travel Channeland you can check out their Lisbon photo reel preview and Lisbon Travel guide video to get pumped for the show!  Unfortunately due to copyright regulations, I won’t be able to watch the premiere tonight from over here in Portugal, so I’m counting on the rest of you for your feedback afterwards!  Hopefully I didn’t look too nervous or a total cheeseball on camera….I mean, it was Andrew Zimmern of all people! :)  The producers already told me though it looks to be a great show so I hope you enjoy it!

After the premiere, I will post some more of my behind-the-scenes photos from the filming of our segment, so don’t miss out!

Cheers,

Andrea Smith

Your American In Portugal

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It’s Time To Reinvent Your Soup- Portuguese Style! http://americaninportugaltours.com/its-time-to-reinvent-your-soup-portuguese-style/ http://americaninportugaltours.com/its-time-to-reinvent-your-soup-portuguese-style/#comments Fri, 27 Dec 2013 15:45:42 +0000 http://americaninportugaltours.com/?p=1441 Deprecated: Non-static method PageLinesTemplate::page_type_breaker() should not be called statically in /home/american/public_html/wp-content/themes/pagelines/includes/library.options.php on line 119

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Feliz Natal and Boas Festas! – Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Portugal!  I’m sure all of you have been eating and drinking a ton of rich, fatty, sweet and alcoholic stuff for the past month or so, I’ve certainly have because the Portuguese are all about the food during the holidays!  Now that [...]]]>
Feliz Natal and Boas Festas! – Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Portugal!  I’m sure all of you have been eating and drinking a ton of rich, fatty, sweet and alcoholic stuff for the past month or so, I’ve certainly have because the Portuguese are all about the food during the holidays!  Now that (hopefully) the worst of the holiday overeating is over, many of us are probably thinking about gearing up for the post-Christmas, New Year’s resolution diet…..ugh.

So what is the best thing to eat in Portugal when you’re on a diet?  SOUP!  I’ve had a soup evolution, and I’ve learned that the Portuguese do it better!

I’ve always loved soup, I love to eat it and I love to make it (preferably both) and nothing makes me happier than taking the time to put together a really nice soup for when friends and family come over.  But when I have those cold nights after a long day and perhaps a big, fatty late lunch (which is common here in Portugal on the weekends), and I’m too tired and not that hungry to do much cooking, spending hours in the kitchen prepping and simmering soup is not what I want to do, though I still want some something warm and nourishing at the end of the day.  One of my favorite soups to have or make back home was tomato soup, I grew up watching my mother open up a can of Campbell’s tomato, adding some macaroni and serving it with grilled cheese sandwiches on nights when she didn’t feel like cooking.  Well here in Portugal, it’s a bit hard to find any Campbell’s soup, and when you do, it’s super expensive.  Besides, why should I spend a bunch of money on the processed stuff when I can make my own?  But then when I look up tomato soup recipes online, all of them have a bunch of butter, cream, stock and long simmering times……both unhealthy and too much time to make when I’m tired and feeling fat!

So I decided to switch from Google.com to Google.pt to see if a Portuguese version of tomato would be better.  As I mentioned in an earlier post this year, traditional Portuguese style soup is normally a purée of various vegetables, including pumpkin, carrot, potato, leek, onion, garlic and turnip, with cabbage or green beans or spinach mixed in after blending.  For sopa de tomate – tomato soup, I found it normally follows this method as well, though there were several variations depending on the region.  Tomato soup is most popular in the southern region of Alentejo, and has not only tomatoes, onions and garlic, but normally red and green bell peppers as well, and is not always entirely puréed.  Even their version of gaspacho is not puréed, and both have those token big chunks of crusty Alentejo bread like you saw in my post about their Açorda Alentejana.  However, I prefer my tomato soup to be a purée, and I easily found plenty of this version for a general Portuguese tomato soup.

I ended up choosing the one from Chef Tiger, a cute little grey-striped Portuguese kitty whose owner has apparently taught him to cook well :)  The recipe has a really nice picture layout and boasted how simple it is:  4 ingredients- tomatoes, onions, garlic, cilantro (plus water, salt, olive oil and bay leaf) 4 quick steps- slice, sauté, simmer and purée, and 25 minutes to make a soup for two people (you can easily make more in that time) that costs about €2.00 for the whole recipe.  It also includes poaching two eggs in the soup (like the Açorda) and serving it with some toast if you want (which I did). And not only was it a quicker and much healthier version of tomato soup, but perhaps even tastier!  The tomato and fresh cilantro are great together, and then swirling that runny, soft-poached egg yolk around in your bowl is just heaven!  With the protein from the egg and a small piece of wheat toast, you basically have a complete, satisfying (and healthy) meal right there, though a warm, grilled cheese and ham sandwich pairs nicely with it as well :)

I was so amazed by my discovery of this awesome Portuguese version of tomato soup, I decided to look up other simpler, healthier versions of other popular soups.  And I found another winner, Portuguese “cream” of broccoli soup, but this recipe has no cream, instead it uses zucchini in the purée that gives it a deliciously creamy texture without the calories!  This was the secret ingredient on one of the episodes of known Portuguese chef Henrique Sá Pessoa’s namesake cooking show, Ingrediente Secreto and I found the video recipe of it on You Tube and the chef does a great job showing you each step of this simple but surprising 3-ingredient soup, with a couple of poached eggs to garnish at the end of course :)  And this soup also tasted better than any fatty broccoli soup I had ever had back in the US, I couldn’t believe it.

And so I want to share such wonderful discoveries with the rest of you, at a time of the year when we all need a little detox but don’t want to give up the flavor.  And though these photo/video recipes I found are a great visual help, they’re still all in Portuguese so I have kindly translated them for you below, with a little bit of my own style added in to it.  Please let me know if you decide to make these, and if you thought they were as fantastic as I did.

Happy New Year and Happy Dieting, The Portuguese Way!

Portuguese Tomato Soup: Recipe from Chef Tiger 

Yield: 2 – 3 servings

Ingredients:

– 4 to 6 fresh tomatoes (4 if large, 6 if small to medium), de-skinned and rough chopped (you can slice off the skin or I just blanch all of them in boiling water for easier removal)

– 1 large yellow onion, sliced

– 2 to 3 cloves of garlic, sliced thin (I use around 4 because I love garlic)

– 1 Bay leaf

– 1 bunch fresh cilantro, washed and destemmed

– coarse sea salt (preferably Portuguese)

– olive oil

-water

– 2 eggs

*Parmesan cheese and toast for garnish

Method:

1. Sauté the onions and garlic with the Bay leaf in olive oil until soft and translucent, about 5 mins. (I add a small pinch of sea salt here to get them going)

2.  Add the tomatoes and cilantro, mix in well for a minute or two then add enough water just to cover ingredients.

3.  Add a generous pinch of sea salt (about a tablespoon or so), mix and bring to a bowl, then turn down and let simmer until you can smell all the flavors melded together (about 10-15mins).

4. Take off heat, taste and adjust seasoning if necessary, remove Bay leaf and purée in pot with hand blender.  Put back on heat to bring to just a slight simmer.

5.  Gently add the eggs, one at a time on opposite sides of the pot (crack each into a small bowl then add them from there), let cook about 3-4 minutes or longer if you don’t like runny yolks.  You mat need to turn them a bit to get them covered with the white but don’t worry if they come out messy, the flavor is what counts!  Ladle each egg into a bowl, then fill up with more soup, garnish with toast and cheese. Enjoy!

 

Portuguese Broccoli Soup: Recipe from Ingrediente Secreto

Yield: 6 – 8 servings

Ingredients:

– About 2lbs. of broccoli with stems (or one large bag of fresh broccoli heads), slice the stems thinly and break the florets into small pieces.

– 1 large zucchini, sliced thin

– 1 large onion, sliced thin

– sea salt (preferably Portuguese)

-olive oil

– water (for both the soup and a separate pot to poach the eggs)

– 2 eggs ( or more if you have more people)

*Parmesan cheese and toast for garnish

Method:

1. Sauté the sliced broccoli stems and onion in olive oil until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the zucchini, a pinch of salt and a little bit more olive oil, sauté another couple of minutes.

2. Add just enough water to cover, bring to a boil.  Add the broccoli florets only when the water is boiling (very important so that they stay green in color), mix in well, add another generous pinch of salt and let boil until all veg are soft (about 10-15 mins)

3.  Meanwhile, heat another saucepot of water until just simmering, (add a splash of vinegar if you want) swirl the water and gently add the eggs (cracked each into separate bowls) to cook one at a time, helping them turn the white to cover with a spoon if necessary. Cook about 3-4 minutes or longer if you don’t want runny.  Remove with slotted spoon and gently lay on paper towel, sprinkle with salt and cracked pepper and reserve.

4.  Remove soup from heat, taste and adjust seasoning if necessary then purée in pot with hand blender.  Ladle soup into bowls, gently put poached eggs on top.  Garnish with Parmesan cheese and toast if desired.  Enjoy!

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Autumn In Portugal: Homemade Açorda Alentejana http://americaninportugaltours.com/autumn-in-portugal-homemade-acorda-alentejana/ http://americaninportugaltours.com/autumn-in-portugal-homemade-acorda-alentejana/#comments Fri, 11 Oct 2013 15:18:43 +0000 http://americaninportugaltours.com/?p=1399 Deprecated: Non-static method PageLinesTemplate::page_type_breaker() should not be called statically in /home/american/public_html/wp-content/themes/pagelines/includes/library.options.php on line 119

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Autumn is my favorite season.  It’s not too hot, not too cold and there’s a crisp, wood-burning aroma in the air.  Makes me want something simple, warm and comforting, which pretty much describes most Portuguese food Last year I wrote about “5 Strange Portuguese Foods That I’ve Grown To Love”, and one of [...]]]>
Autumn is my favorite season.  It’s not too hot, not too cold and there’s a crisp, wood-burning aroma in the air.  Makes me want something simple, warm and comforting, which pretty much describes most Portuguese food :)

Last year I wrote about “5 Strange Portuguese Foods That I’ve Grown To Love”, and one of them I talked about was the “bread soup” Açorda Alentejana.  Different from the mushier variety, Açorda de Gambas, it’s a nice brothy bread soup made from simply garlic, fresh cilantro and extra virgin olive oil boiled up in a pot of water.  Eggs are then added to poach right before serving over a bowl full of torn pieces of crusty pão Alentejano.   Many people also add bacalhau, Portugal’s beloved salt cod, to the dish.    I had recently enjoyed Açorda Alentejana at a local restaurant for lunch and was inspired to try making it at home on a cool night when I didn’t feel like doing much for dinner.  And it is indeed such an easy recipe, it took less than 20 minutes to prep and serve the whole dish!  And despite such few ingredients it was a very hearty meal, we couldn’t even finish our bowls!  I made it with bacalhau as well, and though this fish can be pretty smelly just plain boiled, when added to the soup it really mellows out the flavor and makes it nice :)

So try this for yourself on the next chilly autumn night you have, it’s great with or without the cod and it will fill you right up!

 

Açorda Alentejana: (makes 2-3 servings)

  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 1 bunch of fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 2-4 eggs, depending on if you want more than one egg in your bowl
  • 2-3  slices of Alentejano style bread or any other good, crusty bread/roll, torn into pieces
  • sea salt (Portuguese sea salt would be great, but any regular will do, or kosher salt)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Salt cod filet, pre-soaked, rinsed and ready to cook – I used a frozen one  (or you can use fresh cod or something similiar)

Method:

1. Boil the cod in sea-salted water with a good slug of extra virgin olive oil for about 10 mins or until it floats to the top and looks flakey.  Remove and shred the flesh, discard the skin and bones and set aside.  You can use the boiling water as the water for the soup if you want, but it might be more fishy.

2.  Crush together the garlic cloves with a good pinch of sea salt and half of the cilantro.

3.  Heat up a pot with olive oil, add the crushed mixture and sauté for a couple minutes, without burning the garlic.

4.  Add about 1-1.5 liters of water to the pot and bring to a boil.  Adjust seasoning if necessary.

5.  Once boiling, swirl the water and gently crack the eggs in, add the rest of the cilantro and let simmer until eggs are cooked – a couple of minutes if you still want them runny on the inside, more time if you want them fully cooked.

6.  Remove from heat and ladle into bowls with torn bread.  Spoon the shredded cod on top and serve!

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Photo Gallery: A Foodie’s Vacation In Algarve, Portugal http://americaninportugaltours.com/photo-gallery-a-foodies-vacation-in-algarve-portugal/ http://americaninportugaltours.com/photo-gallery-a-foodies-vacation-in-algarve-portugal/#respond Fri, 13 Sep 2013 15:16:06 +0000 http://americaninportugaltours.com/?p=1342 Deprecated: Non-static method PageLinesTemplate::page_type_breaker() should not be called statically in /home/american/public_html/wp-content/themes/pagelines/includes/library.options.php on line 119

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It seems like everyone in Portugal is in Algarve in August, and it’s not hard to see why.  The southernmost region of Portugal is surrounded by a wide array of beautiful beaches with the warmest water and sunniest weather you can find in the country during the summer.   Most Portuguese families have their own [...]]]>
Following my seasonal fig craving all the way down to Algarve, the heartland for figos!

Following my seasonal fig craving all the way down to Algarve, the heartland for figos!

It seems like everyone in Portugal is in Algarve in August, and it’s not hard to see why.  The southernmost region of Portugal is surrounded by a wide array of beautiful beaches with the warmest water and sunniest weather you can find in the country during the summer.   Most Portuguese families have their own vacation home there or rent one for several weeks or the entire month of August, where they’re within walking distance or a short drive to the beach and one of the major cities for shopping and restaurants.  This also the case with my boyfriend’s family, who own an apartment in Loulé, where we spent five days with them last month just eating, sleeping and going to the beach.  And when it’s so blazing hot and you have no air conditioning, you basically don’t want to do much more!

Now it’s true, there are many parts of Algarve that are quite touristy (namely the cities of Albufeira and Portimão) but there are still plenty of unspoiled towns and villages where you can enjoy the regions treasures – not just the beaches but the delicious food and local ingredients. And the best place to find them is at a local mercado, which we were lucky enough to be in Loulé where they have an excellent open market.   My boyfriend’s grandparents got up early on several days to bring back some excellent fresh fish for lunch, while arrived there later in the morning to pick up some other tasty tidbits to share.  Below are the photos I snapped in between my beach tanning sessions and food comas of some of my favorite local products and some homemade Portuguese dishes made with them, courtesy of the boyfriend’s very skilled avós who cooked for us :)

At the Mercado de Loulé on a Saturday when they have everything, including several vendors of tasty cured Portuguese meat and cheese

At the Mercado de Loulé on a Saturday when they have everything, including several vendors of tasty cured Portuguese meat and cheese

 

A closer shot of some delicious Salpicão, a type of Portuguese salami that tasted very similar to pepperoni, yum :)

A closer shot of some delicious salpicão, a type of Portuguese salami.  This particular one tasted very similar to pepperoni, yum :)

 

Grilling up the market catch for lunch back at the Algarve HQ, my boyfriend's 85yr old grandfather is a grill master!

Grilling up the market catch for lunch back at the Algarve HQ, my boyfriend’s 85yr old grandfather is a grill master!

 

Our perfectly grilled Sardinhas and Carapaus for lunch :)

Our perfectly grilled Sardinhas and Carapaus for lunch :)

 

On one of our late beach days, my boyfriend's mother taught me how to dig for cockles in the sand with my foot, we ended up bringing back 17 large ones to cook up!

On one of our late beach days, my boyfriend’s mother taught me how to dig for cockles in the sand with my foot, we ended up bringing back 17 large ones to cook up!

 

And here are these beauties all steamed open with some sautéed garlic and olive oil- absolutely delicious!

And here are these beauties all steamed open with some sautéed garlic and olive oil- absolutely delicious!

 

Ok not food, but had to get in one gratuitous shot of beautiful Loulé all lit up on a hot summer night :)

Ok not food, but had to get in one gratuitous shot of beautiful Loulé all lit up on a hot summer night :)

 

We went out for dinner one night with friends and I had a fabulous espetada de lulas - a grilled squid kebab with bacon wrapped shrimp, cherry tomatoes and chouriço - sooooo good.

We went out for dinner one night with friends and I had a fabulous espetada de lulas – a grilled squid kebab with bacon wrapped shrimp, cherry tomatoes and chouriço – sooooo good.

 

Oh and you cannot miss trying one of Algarve's famous Cataplanas - fish or meat stew cooked in a cataplana pot, this one was made with tamboril - monkfish and camarão - shrimp

Oh and you cannot miss trying one of Algarve’s famous Cataplanas – fish or meat stew cooked in a cataplana pot, this one was made with tamboril – monkfish and camarão – shrimp

On our last trip to the market, we picked up some local goodies to take home with us: whole Algarve amendoas (almonds) and some fig, almond and alfarroba (carob) rolls.  Sweet and healthy!

On our last trip to the market, we picked up some local goodies to take home with us: whole Algarve amendoas (almonds) and some fig, almond and alfarroba (carob) rolls. Sweet and healthy!

 

These were the biggest lingueirões - razor clams I had ever seen!  Straight from the  Loulé mercado :)

These were the biggest lingueirões – razor clams I had ever seen! Straight from the Loulé mercado :)

 

Some carapauzinhos - small mackerel and linguados - sole all seasoned and ready to fry to go with our razor clam rice for lunch

Some carapauzinhos – small mackerel and linguados – sole all seasoned and ready to fry to go with our razor clam rice for lunch

 

Our ready to eat traditional Portuguese dish: fried fish and arroz de lingueirão - razor clam rice with garlic, onions and cilantro :)

Our last traditional lunch in Algarve: fried fish and arroz de lingueirão – razor clam rice with garlic, onions and cilantro :)

 

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Fig Season Is Arriving in Portugal! Portuguese Food Fact Monday http://americaninportugaltours.com/fig-season-is-arriving-in-portugal-portuguese-food-fact-monday/ http://americaninportugaltours.com/fig-season-is-arriving-in-portugal-portuguese-food-fact-monday/#comments Mon, 05 Aug 2013 15:37:16 +0000 http://americaninportugaltours.com/?p=1311 Deprecated: Non-static method PageLinesTemplate::page_type_breaker() should not be called statically in /home/american/public_html/wp-content/themes/pagelines/includes/library.options.php on line 119

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It’s that time of the year again! You may be able to get your hands of plenty of dried figs in most places but fresh figs are a luxury.  They have a short harvest time and go bad quickly once picked, often getting their delicate skin bruised in the process.    Fortunately Portugal has an excellent [...]]]>

Fresh figs for sale at my local mercearia!

It’s that time of the year again! You may be able to get your hands of plenty of dried figs in most places but fresh figs are a luxury.  They have a short harvest time and go bad quickly once picked, often getting their delicate skin bruised in the process.    Fortunately Portugal has an excellent climate for cultivating  figs!  And starting now until about the end of September you can find plenty of fresh figs in the mercados and small mercearias here, both the green, Moscatel variety and the purple (black mission variety) figs, especially in southern Algarve region where there is an abundance of fig trees.  Or if you’re lucky, you may get to know some Portuguese who have fig trees at home and are more than happy to give you a big bag full of them since they have more than they can eat before they go bad!  And make sure you eat yours right away as well, freshly picked figs only last a couple days or less.

What’s the best way to eat fresh figos?  Most Portuguese tell you to gently peel off the outer skin and eat it just like that, as they’re sweet enough without needing anything else.  However, you can always dress them up with perhaps a drizzle of local Portuguese mel – honey or have it with some requeijão – the Portuguese version of ricotta cheese but richer and better with desserts.  And what to drink while you’re indulging in some figgy goodness?  I recommend a Moscatel de Setúbal – a lovely fortified wine made from the Moscatel grape, grown and produced mainly in the Setúbal Peninsula, south of Lisbon.  This wine has its own delicious honey and fig aromas and flavors to compliment your fresh fruit for a match made in heaven.  There are both young and aged styles of Moscatel, and for an even more aromatic  dessert wine, try a Moscatel Roxo – Purple Moscatel, made from another, more delicate cousin of the Moscatel.  One of my favorite producers of Moscatel Roxo is boutique brand Horacio Simões  while I have plenty of favorite styles of Moscatel de Setúbal (and Roxo) from José Maria da Fonseca.

A selection of Moscatel wines from José Maria da Fonseca via Comer, Beber e Lazer

A selection of Moscatel wines from José Maria da Fonseca via Comer, Beber e Lazer

If you’re a fig lover then, now’s the time to come to Portugal for a blissful fig and Moscatel experience and so much more on one of my tours!  And even if you miss the fresh fig season, there’s always the rest of the fall and winter to enjoy the newly dried figs from the harvest and doce de figo – fig jam, mmmMMM!

If you want to know more about Portugal’s seasonal produce, check out my Catavino article: How to Shop For Food In Portugal: What and Where to Find the Best Produce in Season

Até Já! :)

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Friday Foodie Foto Gallery: My Adventures In Canned Fish Land http://americaninportugaltours.com/friday-foodie-foto-gallery-my-adventures-in-canned-fish-land/ http://americaninportugaltours.com/friday-foodie-foto-gallery-my-adventures-in-canned-fish-land/#comments Fri, 26 Jul 2013 16:32:54 +0000 http://americaninportugaltours.com/?p=1229 Deprecated: Non-static method PageLinesTemplate::page_type_breaker() should not be called statically in /home/american/public_html/wp-content/themes/pagelines/includes/library.options.php on line 119

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I spent a lot of time “can fishing” with all different types of Portuguese and Spanish canned fish for my latest Catavino post, “Conservas de Peixe: The Tasty but Discernible Truth Behind Canned Fish in Portugal” and I photo documented many of them.  As I’ve said before, I don’t claim to be a photographer, [...]]]>
I spent a lot of time “can fishing” with all different types of Portuguese and Spanish canned fish for my latest Catavino post, “Conservas de Peixe: The Tasty but Discernible Truth Behind Canned Fish in Portugal” and I photo documented many of them.  As I’ve said before, I don’t claim to be a photographer, but I thought I’d share some of them to illustrate some of the types, styles and restaurant creations I mentioned in the post (and if you haven’t read it yet, go back to the link above to check it out!).  Maybe you’ll find these handy on your next trip to Lisbon, and if you need any help, perhaps I should suggest one of my fun foodie tours then? :)

Happy Fish Friday!

 

Minerva Sardine fillets in olive oil on the left and La Gondola whole Sardines in tomato sauce on the right - These were two of my favorite styles and brands for eating at home

Left: Minerva Sardine fillets in olive oil, Right: La Gondola whole Sardines in tomato sauce on the right – These were two of my favorite styles and brands for eating at home

Petingas (small Sardines) in olive oil by Piteú, a supermarket sub-brand of CofacoAçores - these weren't

Petingas (small Sardines) in olive oil by Piteú, a sub-brand of CofacoAçores – these were pretty good for a supermarket brand and you got a lot in one can, great with some tasty Saloio cheese

 

Some supermarket brand canned fish that my boyfriend's grandparents always keep stocked in their cupboard

Some supermarket brand canned fish (both Portuguese and Spanish) that my boyfriend’s grandparents always keep stocked in their cupboard, they are fans of cavala fillets, petingas and anchovies

 

"Picas" Peixe Agulha (unknown fish) with olive oil and lime juice at Can The Can restaurant - very tasty!

“Picas” Peixe Agulha (unknown fish) with olive oil and lime juice at Can The Can restaurant – very tasty!

 

Another delicious Can The Can creation: Cavala (Atlantic Chub Mackerel) fillets with mashed sweet potato, quince confit, tomato and dill

Another delicious Can The Can creation: Cavala (Atlantic Chub Mackerel) fillets with mashed sweet potato, quince confit, tomato and dill

 

Can The Can Chef Akis moved to Portugal 25 years ago after growing up in Greece eating surprisingly Portuguese brand canned fish Luças - his inspiration

Can The Can Chef Akis moved to Portugal 25 years ago after growing up in Greece eating surprisingly Portuguese brand canned fish Luças – his inspiration

 

Can The Can's canned fish gift shop, pretty awesome selection!

Can The Can’s canned fish gift shop, pretty awesome selection!

 

My favorite from the Poças Port wine and Pinhais brand canned fish dinner at Can The Can: Pinhais Sardine roe with eggplant mousse, tomato confit and aromatic herbs paired with Poças Special Reserve Dry White Port - absolutely spectacular!

My favorite from the Poças Port wine and Pinhais brand canned fish dinner at Can The Can: Pinhais Sardine roe with eggplant mousse, tomato confit and aromatic herbs paired with Poças Special Reserve Dry White Port – absolutely spectacular!

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How To Order & Savor Coffee In Portugal http://americaninportugaltours.com/how-to-order-savor-coffee-in-portugal/ http://americaninportugaltours.com/how-to-order-savor-coffee-in-portugal/#comments Thu, 18 Jul 2013 14:05:29 +0000 http://americaninportugaltours.com/?p=1149 Deprecated: Non-static method PageLinesTemplate::page_type_breaker() should not be called statically in /home/american/public_html/wp-content/themes/pagelines/includes/library.options.php on line 119

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I live on Portuguese coffee.  It’s quick, inexpensive and readily available on almost every corner café/pastry shop around the country, but most importantly it’s tasty!  And of course it gives you that nice caffeine boost you need to get through any time of the day or night, as many Portuguese like to have up to [...]]]>
live on Portuguese coffee.  It’s quick, inexpensive and readily available on almost every corner café/pastry shop around the country, but most importantly it’s tasty!  And of course it gives you that nice caffeine boost you need to get through any time of the day or night, as many Portuguese like to have up to five cafés a day (breakfast, mid-morning, lunch, after work, dinner).  For me though, I tend to keep it limited to two or three a day but I always enjoy my coffee here with one of the many delicious pastries that this country is known for, and it’s a blissful experience every time.

Are you a coffee lover as well?  Then you can’t make a trip to Portugal without thoroughly enjoying some of their coffee.  However I will warn you, if you’re only looking to drink a “café Americano” then stay. at. home.  When in Portugal, do as the Portuguese do!  And that means we drink real coffee, which you may know as espresso grade (FYI: If you ask for an American style coffee you’ll just get a watered down espresso, actually called a carioca, but so not worth it!).  Yes, espresso has a strong flavor, yes it’s very tiny when you want more but don’t worry, the Portuguese have plenty of different styles you can choose to have your coffee, without a strong flavor.  And if you know how to order them, you can skip the awkward, embarrassing scenes you normally fear in a foreign country and just savor you coffee like it should be.

Want to know more about the history and origins of Portuguese coffee?  Check out my full in-depth Catavino article: Portugal’s Coffee: A Sumptuous and Delectable Treat

 

The Basics for Ordering Coffee (or anything at a café):

“Bom dia!”, “Boa tarde!” (boa tard) – Good morning!  Good Afternoon!  Always greet the server/barista before you order, it’s polite.

“Um, dois, tres, quatro, cinco” (oom, doish, tresh, quatroo, sinkoo) – One, two, three, four, five.  Know your numbers so you can order the right quantity.

“Faz favor” (fazsh fahvor), “Obrigado/a” (oh-bri-gah-doo/da) – Please and Thank you (“o” if you’re a man, “a” if you’re a woman when saying thank you) should always be used when ordering as well!

So let’s practice: A simple coffee order for you and a guest: “Bom dia!  Dois cafés, faz favor.” -“Good Morning!  Two coffees (espressos), please.”  Then, when the coffee is served, say: “Obrigada!” – “Thank you!” with an “a” if I had said it because I am a female.  Don’t forget to tell them thank you and good morning (if it’s still morning) or good afternoon again when you leave.

Sugar Substitute?  Regular sugar is always put with coffee unless you request otherwise.  The only sugar substitute comes as a little white pill (eww!), called adoçante (ah-doh-sahnt).  I say stick with the real thing.

And the bill? If you’re standing at the counter, you can simply ask: “Quanto é?” – “How much is it?”  And if you’re sitting at the table, you can flag down the waiter and ask: “Pode trazer a conta, faz favor.” – “Could you bring the bill/check please?”

Tip?  No, you don’t tip in cafés and pastry shops.

 

Common Styles of Coffee:

*There are numerous Portuguese coffee brands, some of the most popular in Lisbon are: Delta, Nicola, Sical and Camelo

  • Café (café) – “coffee” A basic espresso, strongest in flavor.  Don’t worry if you end up dumping your whole packet of sugar in it because most Portuguese do the same haha :)  If you want to use local lingo for ordering, say “uma bica” when in Lisbon and “um cimbalino” in Porto.

 

  • Café cheio (café sheioo) – “Full coffee” A long espresso, filled to the top of the cup, not as strong in flavor but still basically the same amount of caffeine, if perhaps more.  Most Portuguese order this instead of a café duplo (double espresso).
  • Café Pingado ( café peengadoo) – This is an espresso with a pingo – drop of milk.  The “drop” can be more or less depending on where you go, sometimes it’s made very similar to a macchiato and other times it’s really just a tiny drop.  If you prefer more with the foam, try asking for a garoto (“gahrotoo”).

 

 

 

  • Meia de Leite (meiya duh light) – “Half milk”  This is essentially the Portuguese version of a latté or cappuccino, served in a chávena – a large teacup.  It again depends on where you order it whether you’ll get it more latté or cappuccino style, most of the time it’s just espresso and hot milk filled to the top but sometimes they’ll put a little foam, especially if they see you’re a tourist 😉  Many places also give you a choice in the morning whether you want it com machina – with the espresso coffee, or sem machina – using their lighter café da manhã or “morning coffee” that they brew in a big pitcher and has a smoother flavor.  A meia de leite always comes with two packets of sugar, yes the Portuguese do love their sugar but I never put in more than one, sometimes less, you don’t need more if you’re eating something sweet with it :)

 

 

  • Galão (guhl- ow) – The lightest style of Portuguese coffee, with only a touch of espresso and the rest filled with hot/foamed milk served in a tall glass.  Many people like to have this as their first coffee of the day with breakfast, such as fresh bread or a sandwich or a torrada – the delicious Portuguese style toast.  However, it is perfectly acceptable to order this, or any other style of coffee in the afternoon.  Again, comes with two packets of sugar but this style if so light  and smooth it almost doesn’t need any.

 

  • Iced Coffee? – Uh….not really, you’ll have to make your own.  I always ask for “um copo com gelo” – a glass with ice, along with my coffee order.   First I’ll taste and add sugar if necessary while the coffee’s hot, then quickly dump it into my glass and give it a good stir.  It’s not perfect but much more refreshing on a hot day then drinking hot coffee, though I only recommend trying it with smaller styles, like café or café pingado.

 

Have a deliciously wonderful café – filled day! :)

 

A foamy meia de leite with a merenda- ham and cheese pastry

 

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Friday Foodie Foto: Tarte de Gila http://americaninportugaltours.com/friday-foodie-foto-tarte-de-gila/ http://americaninportugaltours.com/friday-foodie-foto-tarte-de-gila/#respond Fri, 12 Jul 2013 18:47:14 +0000 http://americaninportugaltours.com/?p=1140 Deprecated: Non-static method PageLinesTemplate::page_type_breaker() should not be called statically in /home/american/public_html/wp-content/themes/pagelines/includes/library.options.php on line 119

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Gila or “chila” is a type of green striped squash/pumpkin that is native to the Americas but was introduced to the Mediterranean in the 16-17th centuries.  In Portugal, it is cooked down and mainly used to make sweets, such as doce de Gila – Gila jam, or in this case, a tart.  The texture [...]]]>
Gila or “chila” is a type of green striped squash/pumpkin that is native to the Americas but was introduced to the Mediterranean in the 16-17th centuries.  In Portugal, it is cooked down and mainly used to make sweets, such as doce de Gila – Gila jam, or in this case, a tart.  The texture is lightly crunchy even after cooked but the flavor is a lovely sweet, light, “white pumpkin” flavor and most Portuguese adore it.

I had this house-made tart, a mixture of gila, sugar, cinnamon and egg yolk (another Portuguese favorite in sweets) at our favorite Restaurante Amalia (formerly Arena dos Petiskos)  in nearby Alcochete, across the river from Lisbon.  And it was delish :)

Bom fim de semana!  Have a good weekend!

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Favas: A Portugal Favorite You’ll Come to Love http://americaninportugaltours.com/favas-a-portugal-favorite-youll-come-to-love/ http://americaninportugaltours.com/favas-a-portugal-favorite-youll-come-to-love/#comments Mon, 01 Jul 2013 14:05:26 +0000 http://americaninportugaltours.com/?p=967 Deprecated: Non-static method PageLinesTemplate::page_type_breaker() should not be called statically in /home/american/public_html/wp-content/themes/pagelines/includes/library.options.php on line 119

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Fava beans, also known as broad beans, have never really been popular where I’m from.  In fact, many Americans only know them by  Hannibal Lecter’s infamously creepy description of one of his favorite meals in Silence of the Lambs.  Not exactly the most appealing reputation to make people want to run out and [...]]]>

Fava beans, also known as broad beans, have never really been popular where I’m from.  In fact, many Americans only know them by  Hannibal Lecter’s infamously creepy description of one of his favorite meals in Silence of the Lambs.  Not exactly the most appealing reputation to make people want to run out and buy them!  Here in Portugal however, favas are one of the most beloved beans used in traditional Portuguese cuisine, and during my time here I have come to see why.

First off, Favas are quite healthy, rich in protein and dietary fiber, they are full of vitamins and minerals including Vitamin A, copper and magnesium.  They also contain a high concentration of L-dopa (dopamine), an amino acid that regulates brain function and can help boost your mood.   Health benefits aside, it’s the flavor that  matters most.  Fava beans have a similiar appearance to lima beans, but they are much bigger and so much tastier than the latter.  Their texture is smooth and in my opinion they are definitely the richest tasting of all green beans and trumping many other types of beans in flavor.  And because of this richness, they can be prepared both simply or mixed in with heartier dishes, probably why Hannibal enjoyed them with his liver then 😉

You can find favas in the supermarkets here frozen year-round but the actual season for fresh favas is between April and July.  This is when there are plenty of fresh favas at the mercados and mercearias.  In fact, my little mercearia across the street not only sells them whole in the shell but also freshly shucked and ready to use in small sacs, saving me the hassle of removing them myself.  It was back in April when they first started appearing that I bought one of these little sacs to try out a simple Portuguese fava bean salad that I love at home.  The salad can be done with raw favas if you like, but most people here, including myself,  prefer to boil them up in sea-salted water with some extra virgin olive oil.  And though they are quite large, they take hardly any time at all to cook, about 10 minutes and they’re tender.  And there’s no need to pre-soak them either.  So after I boiled and drained the favas, I let them cool then tossed them in more EVOO with a splash of vinegar (you can use cider vinegar or white wine vinegar), minced garlic and chopped fresh cilantro.   The quantities aren’t exact, just  be careful on the amount of vinegar and do it to taste.  And if the raw garlic is too strong for you, sauté it up first in a little EVOO, then cool and reserve it in the oil to use in the salad, I might do this the next time I make it and maybe even sauté a little bacon or presunto with it, mmm :) This salad is the perfect petisco, a small appetizer dish to munch on before dinner, and you can sub fresh parsley if you don’t like cilantro or even add some chopped hard-boiled egg and tuna, another Iberian variation.  The best part is this salad is that it’s quick, easy and tasty!

Favas Guisadas at Tasca do João, the white wine was for my bf’s fish ;)

My favorite Portuguese fava dish though has to be favas guisadas com entrecosto e chouriço – stewed favas with pork ribs and sausage, it is a succulent, rich dish that I first tried at my favorite restaurant, A Tasca do João and I continue enjoy it there often.  The beans are stewed together with some fatty pieces of marinated pork ribs and two types of sausage, normally chouriço de carne (a regular cured meat sausage) and chouriço de sangue (a cured blood sausage).  The dish is served with a handful of fresh coentros (cilantro) on top.  Of course this fava preparation certainly isn’t as healthy as the salad but it is oh so mouth-watering tasty!  Pair it with a nice Portuguese red wine and some crusty fresh bread to mop up all the meat juice and it’s heaven :)  If you’re tempted to try making this at home and can find some good-quality chouriço in your area (try a gourmet market) then I’ve provided a translated recipe below.

Whichever way you choose to have your favas, the Portuguese way will always be the tastiest!

 

Favas Guisadas á Portuguesa- Stewed Favas with Pork Ribs and Sausage

Original Recipe in Portuguese from Petiscos.com

Ingredients:

600 g pork ribs, get an inexpensive cut with some nice fat on them
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 dl or about a 1/2 cup white wine
1 Bay leaf
1 bunch of fresh cilantro
Salt to taste and piri-piri (optional if you don’t like spicy)
1 onion, chopped
1 dl or about a 1/2 cup of olive oil
½ – 1 chouriço de sangue (cured blood sausage), sliced into small rounds
½ – 1 chouriço de carne (regular cured sausage), sliced into small rounds
1 small leek, chopped (optional)
1 kg (2.2 lbs.) of fresh (or frozen) fava beans

Preparation:

1- Arrange and cut the ribs into small pieces, season them with salt, piri-piri and mix with the garlic, paprika, white wine, Bay leaf and cilantro (save a bit of the cilantro for garnish at the end).  Let it marinate for at least 30 minutes.

2- Heat up the olive oil in a saucepan or small pot, add the ribs (reserve the marinade) and brown them well on both sides.  Add the onion and let it cook another 5 minutes.  Add the sausages, chopped leeks, meat marinade and about 2 1/2 cups of water, cover and let it simmer for about 40 minutes or until the meat is soft and tender.

3- Add the fava beans and water just until covered, put the lid back on and let it cook until the favas are nice and soft (about 10-15 mins.)

4- Taste and adjust the seasoning, remove from heat and serve garnished with fresh cilantro.

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