So last week I wrote all about why you should visit Porto – the city of wine – and why it matters!
If you’ve missed the earlier installments about Portugal, here they are below:
Our trip to Portugal coincided with a journey to Spain too!
Readers have asked me what my opinion has been, and which country I would choose, considering Spain & Portugal.
I’ll tell you which one at the end of this post, although it’s not really hard to fathom which one it is!
So what are we waiting for?
From the most typical to the most sophisticated tavern, Portuguese tradition go hand-in-hand with creating recipes, with a taste of Portugal.
Portuguese cuisine is very much influenced by the Mediterranean, it’s former colonies, and the surrounding environs of the country itself – the sea!
Portugal is a seafaring nation with a well-developed fishing industry, which is reflected in the enormous amount of fish and seafood that is regularly eaten.
Portugal has been fishing and trading since the 15th century, is Europe’s highest fish consumption per capita, and is among the top four in the world for consuming seafood!
Seafood can be found in Portugal in various guises such as grilled, boiled, poached, simmered, fried, deep-fried, stewed, cooked in a clay pot à la Asian-style cooking, roasted, and steamed.
I don’t know whether you know this, but I’m a sucker for seafood, and in Portugal, I was in seafood heaven!
In Portugal, there’s a world of flavour just waiting to be discovered!
So we did!
Get ready to be amazed!
This meal was a highlight of Portuguese feasting!
Francesinha otherwise known as Little Frenchie, was a meal that “The Tall Young Gentleman” was just dying to try out!
And let me tell you, more than a sampling of this meal per week will either have you running away screaming, or fit to burst in no time at all!
If you can finish it.
The challenge is yours!
Francesinha is a Porto-derived traditional Portuguese sandwich, made from a triple-decker mass of bread, ham, chouriço and roast meat, covered with masses of melted cheese, a fried egg on top, and served on a large plate of hot chips, with some sort of sauce!
I only had time to take a very quick photo and I didn’t even get a chance to nibble it, as not only was I frightened by the sight of such a huge meal, I was also warned off by the haunting eyes of our young tween son!
A favourite stew that we had was called Tripas à Moda do Porto and there’s a story to it!
We were at a local tavern called Café Santiago in Porto, when I got chatting to a local businessman who happened to be quietly sitting next to me.
I’m not one to lose an opportunity for local contact, so I got chatting!
We were in some sort of diner and because we were in rather a famous place, there was a long queue and a one (1) hour wait.
Since we were just three (3) people, I decided to ask if we could get a small table.
It wasn’t possible but you could leave your name as a reservation, and come back later! As soon as the waiter heard that my name was Victoria, he changed his mind and got all excited, (apparently, there was some sort of festival going on at the time and it had something to do with a Victoria!) and confirmed that there were no tables, but would we be willing to eat at the “bar” instead?
Er. Yes, we would!
And so to the local businessman.
He was not impressed by the fact that both The Music Producer and “The Tall Young Gentleman” were happily tucking into the very famous Porto dish – Francesinha Santiago – while I had simply ordered a “glass of your local wine please!”
He ordered me a small dish of Tripas à Moda do Porto, which is a traditional meal originally from the 14th century, where it was said that every meat item (except for offal), was shipped out of Porto, to feed Portuguese troops overseas, thus leaving the local people with nothing to eat, but tripe!
Tripas à Moda do Porto is one of Porto’s most famous dishes.
It’s a meal made from tripe (the stomach lining of a cow), white beans, tomatoes and chouriço, which is a Portuguese pork sausage!
This businessman also got us to sample various mini-glasses of port.
Let me tell you, I was quite light-headed at the end of it all!
However, he was a jolly fellow, knew all the staff, and made sure that we were served quickly, neatly, and properly.
Oh, and he paid for all the extra dishes and drinks!
Isn’t Portuguese hospitality marvellous!
Bacalhau or salted cod is the most popular type of seafood which can be found, all over Portugal!
It is believed that there are more than 365 ways to cook cod!
One for every day of the year!
In fact, it’s so popular, that bacalhau has earned the nickname fiel amigo or`faithful friend!´
Portuguese locals sing about it in folk songs, and it has become the national dish of Portugal!
Unlike in the UK, where cod is used to make a lovely batch of fish n’ chips, cod in Portugal is almost always eaten when it’s dried and salted!
This custom stems from the old fishing tradition, developed before the invention of refrigeration, where the cod is either soaked in water or soaked in milk! Whatever the case, cod dishes are often flavoured with virgin olive oil or white wine vinegar.
We had these delicious snacks of fried potato skins covered in sea-salt at the very smart family friendly roof-top bar – Madame Petisca, in Lisbon. They came in a metal jug-like bucket, an excellent roof-top view, and quite a few glasses of wine and cocktails, even if I say so myself!
Quite a scrummy killer, as we just kept on ordering more!
Pastel de Nata or Pastel de Belem, is that most delicious snack known as a Portuguese Custard Tart!
We had these tarts everyday and even brought a couple of boxes back home to Berlin!
A Pastel de Nata or Pastel de Belem is a small, round, crisp, puff-pastry case, filled with egg custard, and sprinkled with powdered sugar and cinnamon!
The custard tart first originated in the Jerónimos monastery in the Santa Maria de Belém area of Lisbon, where the monks used egg whites to starch their clothes, and the leftover egg yolks to make cakes and pastries.
The monks sold the recipe to the neighbouring sugar refinery when the convents and monasteries were taken over and closed down, in 1834.
The company started baking the famous Pastéis de Belém in 1837 and continues to do so today, and can I just say that out of all the custard tarts that we had, those from Pastel de Belém, were the absolute best!
You can eat them whenever you want, but they taste best when they’re hot, and ready to melt in your mouth!
Were they delicious or were they delicious?
It’s not only mouth-watering good people, but it warms up the heart and makes you feel all scrummy inside!
Wine is the traditional Portuguese drink.
There is red wine, white wine, rosé wine, and green wine!
Vinho Verde, otherwise known as green wine, isn’t exactly green in colour!!!
It’s termed “green” being that it’s a wine that needs to be drunk “young,”and in fact can actually be red, white, rosé, and usually slightly sparkling!
Green wines started production in 1908 and are only produced in the historic Minho province, which is in the north of Portugal.
It goes without saying, that one of Portugal’s most internationally famous exports, is the port wine, named after the city of Porto itself!
As I told you last week, until a year ago, I had never even heard of the city of Porto!
Yes, of course, I’ve had many a glass of port in my time.
But somehow, it didn’t click that the lip-smacking tipple of port, came from an actual place called Porto!
Until last year!
But what do we know about port anyway?
Port wine, otherwise known as Vinho do Porto, is a Portuguese fortified wine produced exclusively in the Douro Valley, in the northern part of Portugal.
Port is typically a sweet, red wine, often served as a dessert wine, although it also comes in a variety of dry, semi-dry, and white.
Under European Union law, only port wine produced in Portugal may be labelled as port or Porto! “Oporto,” “Porto,” and “Vinho do Porto,” are foreign, non-generic names for Port wines, and recognised as originating and produced in Portugal!
Luckily, on every corner and in every shop in Portugal, a bottle of port can be found in a multitude of forms and sensations such as ruby, tawny, white, rosé, and vintage!
Drum roll pleeeeease!
There are over 250 million people who speak Portuguese world-wide, it has left a most profound cultural and architectural influence across the globe, has an advanced economy, and a higher living standard than France, Spain and Italy!
The people are welcoming, the weather is nice and warm, and the food and drink are delightful.
Visitors are able to relax on the beach and bask in the sun in the Algarve, take pleasure in the culture and history of Lisbon, and enjoy a weekend destination while fishing, or simply sailing along the rivers and shores, in Porto!
Portugal offers an unforgettable experience.
WOULD I COME AGAIN?
I choose Portugal!
This article is not sponsored and all opinions, and the scrummy custard tarts and fascinating tripe, are my very own!
Next week, I’ll tell you where I’m going for the summer!
On June 13th, I’ll be at the first Book Launch of Sophie Kinsella, at the British Embassy, in Berlin!
From June 28th – July 2nd, I’ll be at Berlin Fashion Week.
Save the Date!
June is going to be splendid!
I’ll be there. Will you?
If you’re not in Berlin in June, you must be bonkers!
Watch this space!
See you in Berlin.