Long time, no see. It has a couple of reasons: we moved and just had a lot on our minds, but in the end, as always, the most obvious reason is pure laziness. And we were feeling a little bit guilty about not doing something that was pretty fun for both of us, so here I am trying to sparkle up an old (almost) habit by finishing the first series we tried writing.
We visited Lisbon a little more than a year ago, but as creepy as Google Maps can be, in combination with pictures and our memories, it helps you with reminiscing about things and places you visited. I’m gonna write about three things: The Time Out Food Market Lisboa, Wine Not? and our supermarket experiences in and around Lisbon.
The Time Out Group originally started with a one-sheet pamphlet with listings for London and eventually expanded into Time Out Food Markets in 2014 with the Time Out Mercado da Riberia in Lisbon. Since then, it is a tourist attraction (in 2018 3.9 million visitors ate at the market!), which you can find located directly opposite of the Cais do Sodré Metro Station (and also a station for the westbound trains towards Belém and Cascais).
If you think you will grab a peaceful lunch there, you can forget about it – it’s heavily crowded (but hey, it’s a market – it should be crowded), and you will have to search for a place to sit (a lot of tourists also put their bags onto the chairs in the dining area and take up double the space they need). So bring patience and a little more money on you: firstly you have the possibility to choose between 40 different food and drink stands and the prices are a little bit higher than on a traditional market.
I find the prices justified as you eat on a market where everything was chosen, tasted and tested to have the flavors of Lisbon under one roof. The only thing that bugged me was the lack of sitting possibilities. I ate some fresh grilled sardines on toast served with salad and olive oil, and it was amazing. I considered sardines as these tiny fishes that naturally occur in cans, are bathed in oil and always taste as a lack of motivation to cook something else. Boy was I wrong.
D. had some prawns and rice, and she wasn’t really blown away as the rice was really dry and the prawns sauce could not compensate for that. Her favourite was the Jamón Ibérico which comes served stuffed in a fig. Simplicity is the motto here. Paired with the local beer (Super Bock) and a cocktail for D. we had a pretty good lunch which I would recommend.
We didn’t really have luck when it comes to the weather – it was pretty cold and windy and it was raining every second day. One such day was the 14. March and, of course, we didn’t have an umbrella with us. We tried to find a shelter to hide from the rain (it was pouring like out of buckets), in some of the nearby restaurants/bars, and we stumbled upon the tapas bar “Wine Not?“. Its located near the Baixa-Chiado Metro Station (3 Minutes by foot) and you have a lot of touristic attractions nearby (Elevador de Santa Justa, Rua Augusta, Praça do Comércio), so its a pretty accessible place to grab lunch at (or drink a glass of wine – they have a neat wine card if I remember correctly).
We were surprised by the interior, because the bar is designed more as a restaurant than a tapas bar (they had a really good-looking chandelier made out of empty wine bottles, I can remember wanting to make it myself). We were also only surrounded by locals grabbing something to eat on their lunch break, so I was really excited to eat there, as these two combined usually guarantee a good eating experience. The prices are cheap to moderate, and everyone should find something to eat on the menu.
The best thing about Wine Not? was the service and a brave kitchen that tries to dish out new ideas instead of clinging to the classics. The waiter we got was really friendly and spoke amazing English. I was also a little taken aback how patiently he described everything to us (and how much information he had about the food), which told me two things: firstly, they are really proud of what they do and put a lot of detail in running the restaurant, and secondly, they don’t cater towards tourists as it is a bit more of a chill, laid-back atmosphere where you can sit a couple of hours and just take your time.
I had some puff pastry filled with goat cheese and drizzled in honey, which tasted great, while D. had some weird looking twist on the classic caprese salad. Whilst I didn’t really like the presentation (you get the whole mozzarella stuffed in a peeled tomato and all that is laying in a basil sauce) it was ok to eat, and I found it interesting.
We liked the place, so we decided we’ll stay there and just enjoy the moment. I mean the whole goal of a vacation is to feel good, and we were already feeling there, so why ruin the moment? We ordered another round of drinks (I was drinking beer, D. was drinking Sangria out of a pitcher) and I had some pimientos de padrón and D. ordered some prawns in olive-garlic-lemon sauce. Also amazing. The whole time the waiter was really friendly and came to check up on us every 20-30 Minutes. We left Wine Not? a little bit tipsy but really happy, and the next time were in Lisbon we are 100% going to visit this place again.
I’m gonna wrap up the series on a really egoistic note – I am going to describe my experiences cooking in Portugal (as said a year ago, we booked a flat over. Airbnb, so we had a kitchen we could use). But not from the standpoint of recipes and techniques, but more so out of the perspective of buying groceries. Everybody that travels somewhere and is interested in the local cuisine and their food should jump in some local supermarket and obviously the farmers markets – that’s the places where you get the authentic tastes of the culture. And Lisbon has two tastes that stayed with me: plain white toast bread and fish. As already described white toast with cheese and ham is a staple in the Portuguese breakfast routine, but it is wild how much they like it.
Living in Germany for a couple of Years now you get used to their bread. I don’t really like the German cuisine, but they know their way around bread (and sausages!). And getting to Portugal where you get these huge slices of toast bread (like really huge, you eat two of them baddies and you are good until the noon) was something I had to get used to. But it wasn’t really hard. I forgot how tasty some fresh, hot toast can be when you spread a little salted butter over it. Add some cheese and thinly sliced ham and you have the perfect snack (also pretty anachronistic, you can eat it for breakfast, as a snack or after a heavy drinking night – it tastes delicious anyway) which is easy to prepare.
And fish – You will find it everywhere. Frozen, fresh, processed, in all sizes and shapes – almost every grocery store has produce right out of the sea. And the most shocking thing for me was that it is considerably Cheaper there. When you think about it, you don’t get to pay for the transportation costs and all that stuff that happens on the way, so you get the best, freshest products for much less. Amazing!
The day we spent at Cascais we were getting back to our accommodation pretty late, and we were exhausted because of all the walking and the sea air (you know the feeling of exhaustion that you get after a long day at the sea or in the mountains?), so we decided not to go out that night. While waiting for a train we walked into the Hypermarket Jumbo in Cascais and bought some stuff, so I can cook a dinner for us. We fetched some prawns, olives, vegetables and the famous Sandeman wine. The result is shown in the picture!
P.S. a little note and a contract with myself online: I killed my commuting time writing this, which helped me distance myself from my job after a day of work and it was really fun, so I am going to do it more often.