Showing posts with label Portuguese Cuisine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Portuguese Cuisine. Show all posts

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Ville de Conde

This is my favourite day in Porto, simply because we are visiting the beach/seaside, a place that I grew up with :) This is a relatively new place, in the sense that it's quite unknown to the mass tourists and there isn't much of them trampling the whole place down, which is good, as the last thing you would want to see after escaping from Cambridge town is more people. LOL

As a 'ritual' before going home and not seeing my beautiful egg tarts anytime soon, it's something to start the day with, fresh, warm and crispy :P

Next, we wandered around town and found a local supermarket, with eye catching wine prices. Seriously, for 3 Euro's you'll get a really decent wine here. We saw this cookie medley and just had to try it as I thought I was just blinded by the egg tart as Portuguese's only famous pastries. Really interesting mix, especially the one with the burnt bits on the top, shaped like a inverse cone, rich yellow color (there's 3 of them in this pic). That caught my curiosity first and it turns out to be a rich coconut and eggy mixture baked in the over till crispy on the top. Too sweet for my liking, LOL. And no, we did not finish this pack all in one go, let's just say 80% :P

We ventured around town and found the good bakery listed in the mini guidebook. It wasn't hard to find, the town is really THAT small. Besides the egg tarts (again), we tried some odd looking ones which are basically a variant of the egg tarts. Since no one spoke English there, there's no point asking what it is and just try it :) I remember the one on the right with a dust of icing sugar on top, it seems to be less sweet with a richer custardy taste to it. Note that I'd sprinkled some cinnamon on top of the tart on the left. Was on egg tart high that morning, we ate all of that pastries within 1-2 hours of arrival in town -_- talk about binge eating ...

Feeling slightly guilty and quite 'jelak' (sick) of sweet stuff, the beautiful beach was next. It was slightly out of town, and took a good 15 minutes walk at least. The beach is just right next to the residential area, I'm so envious of the ones facing directly to the sea! There is a really exclusive hotel that looks like a some sort of a forte with really high walls and and a bell, facing the sea. The beach is almost unbelievably deserted, except with a really patient man fishing and some (two) sun tanners lying about. Just strikes me how underrated this part of Portugal is...

Especially when you have lunch facing a sea like this, with a good book facing the breeze ...

Monday, April 09, 2007

Porto Part III

I can't believe I forgot to mention how the Portuguese have 'terrorizing' morning greetings. Every morning, everyone goes 'BOM DIA!' and you think there's a war going on or something. For those who are unfamiliar with the Malay language, bom=bomb, dia=him/her, literally. LOL

Anyways, we're up on exploring Ribiera in the day today, it's the place where we had 'Vacky' for dinner. The port is really beautiful, complementing the weather :) This is an initial view of the river, with the familiar Rabelo boat. The Rabelo Boats were the old system of transporte of Port Wine from the mountains to Porto. It's a pity they are not used anymore for this purpose, but they are still constructed on the old fashion way for tourist travels all along the river Douro.

And of course, I had to take the boat cruise for the sake of it! :) Probably not the best idea to do it at noon where the sun shines directly on you. But ah well, need to replenish the Vitamin D deficiency that I've been experiencing in the UK, so sun's up! This came at a price though, as I had sunburn marks on my face due to my sun glasses! And now I look like Baja Hitam or some silly housefly o_Oll

Lunch is up next, haha, finally the food part you say?! We randomly popped to a cafe that was opened which seems to be heavily sponsored by a funny sounding beer brand called 'Super Bock'. Here is a pic of the place with a jug of ice cool Sangria :) Perfect for a warm sunny day...

I finally ordered the Bacalhau, which is a Portuguese specialty - i.e. salted cod. You can call it the Portuguese version of salted fish (ham yu) hehe. This is a really nice starter, a fish ball mini version of it. Crispy, not too salty, and NOT soaking in oil (eeks), good stuff, in small doses only I should think, not much of a big fan of salty food.

The main course is probably the highlight of the day, as I've been reading/seeing pictures of it. Seems to be a local dish, but basically a modified (better + > sinful?) version of the traditional British ingredients of fry ups. Visualize this: toasts, fries, cheese, egg, steak, bacon, chorizo sausage+BEER=Francesinha Especial!

The beer appears to be hidden in the tomato-ey sauce that drenches the fries. Look at that giant pile of thing, it's just an amazing piece of mush. LOL Especially when you are hungry :P Too heavy for my liking, but still an interesting new dimension to the usual fry ups. Just when you think things couldn't be more creative with the traditional English breakfast .....

And finally, after some good food and Sangria, it's time for MORE alcoholic indulgences, hehe. Coming to Porto without visiting the Port factories is just a big SIN, you know. So off we went, walking about 10 minutes just across the bridge, where many famous Port wine brands like Croft, Taylor, Sandeman, etc are situated.

We went for Croft, and had a brief wait before the tour in English was conducted. Not a bad thing, as we were allowed to try their port whilst waiting! Most importantly, we tried something new and not found in the UK --> white port! It IS GOOD STUFF I must say, slightly sweeter than the normal red version (just like white vs red wine) and easier to drink. It's better than a dessert wine since that just extreme sugar overload.

After that, the tour began and the lady in charge was explaining the history of Port wine and Croft to our group. 'Any questions to ask regarding Croft and the wine?' she asked, after reciting lots of numerical numbers of historical dates and random Croft ancestors etc etc. All of us just looked possibly blank as we were not listening. Sensing this, her brilliant answer was 'It's just a story anyway' :P

These are the super old classic, and extremely expensive Late Bottled Vintage (LBV), which is probably decades old Port wine, kept in the cellar. Apparently Croft owners occasionally pop in for a bottle of it, LOL

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Porto Part II

Back to Porto :) This is the view from the bridge of the magnificent river during the evening, separating the main town and Vila Nova de Gaia, where all the port factories are located.

We walked to Ribiera, the street right next to the river, with lots of nice restaurants and shops with touristy stuff. This is another view of it below, with a few biker dudes enjoying the scenery at night.

Dinner, is of course selected from amongst the range of restaurants available there, and ack, I seem to have forgot the name of it at the moment. But it's ok, the food is most important yea? So here we go, I had their traditional dish, Caldo Verde, for starters. It is a simple kale (a type of vege) and potato soup, mild and comforting.

Next, we came for what Porto is famous for: seafood!!! One good way to savor it's freshness is having them deep fried :P Ironically things are always cooked this way whenever the food is less fresh. We ordered Vinho Verde too, which is their local green wine, white this time. There are red ones too, but seems like white is more common. It's slightly sparkly, but refreshing, goes perfectly with the seafood. NICEeee (Quite rare as the only alcoholic drinks I like tastes like fruit juice hehe, e.g. SANGRIA!)

We had deep fried octopus, and a huge pot of rice with kidney beans, which is the common Portuguese way of having rice, they like them soupy. It's the ultimate comfort food, LOL.

We discovered Vacky too, and he has been brutally attacked :'(

This is Vacky, the cute cow. Moments before he perished ...

Hahahaha, can you guess what it is?
It's ice cream within him!
We just had to order it when we saw this on the menu for dessert ...
The Portuguese description did not help either, and the waiter was thoroughly amused (so are we) :P

And of course, their house specialty: caramel cake. It's surprisingly not THAT sweet (not like Caramel Frappucino from Starbucks) with different sponge layer texture. Good stuff :)

The best part is how amazing their restaurant prices can be. Having all that facing the river of Porto, 3 course + wine, turns up to be about 10 euros+ per person only! Nice

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The best of Portugal

Porto Part I

I chose to go Porto for 3 reasons:
a) Because I have not been to Portugal
b) Because I like Luis Figo

c) Because of THIS ...
THIS ...


Woohoo! The land of Portuguese egg tart :P, and may I stress, authentic ones. Always had a soft spot for it since it was sold in the bakeries back home, until a friend brought some fresh back for me from Lisbon, and man (!) what have I been eating all these while is not really the real thing! The crusts are much thinner, yet still crispy even after its cooled down. Most importantly, you have to put cinnamon on top of it before the munch, gives it a better pungent kick I feel. I was really surprised when I bit into my first one (ironically at Delifrance Porto) which was at room temperature, expecting a soggy tart, to find that the crunch was still there :) And again, I'm a sucker for anything fresh out of the oven, so this is really good anyway.

On another note, Porto is the perfect place for slackers, because there's not much to do, have good (and cheap) port, restaurants and bakeries all around, and a few rows of shopping high streets. I refused to enter any church/museum on this trip, simply because I was so enriched culturally in my last trip to Rome, that I need some new experience. And yeap, Porto is the right place to be to escape the hectic Cambridge bubble. It's sunny, chilled out and most importantly near the river/sea :)

This is the main square in Porto in the evening, where my hostel was conveniently located.

So we went to this restaurant recommended in the guidebook called Abadia. It certainly made its mark on me forever :P (P.S. abadi means eternity in malay). Good food, awesome prices and serious portion distortion. A little more on the latter later. So, as usual, I had to try the local specialties in this region, and have known what to call for without looking at the menu. This is the famous Tripas à moda do Porto (tripe with sausage and beans). It's a perfect stew for the cold days really.

I ordered porco à alentejana (Pork Alentejo style), which was my favorite dish of the whole trip. It's a huge pork shoulder steak grilled to perfection with salt and pepper, I think. The best thing was the pile of green thing you see in the picture below, it is actually spinach cream, goes very well with meat dishes I must say! Had a lot of that to make me feel like Popeye ...

We had a huge shock with the portion distortion whilst there, since as you can see below, that huge slab of pork is apparently HALF a portion by its own! Even the tripe stew above, it is half a portion for that solid big saucepan of meat, sausage and beans all in one... o_OII

... and I thought the Americans eat loads. But I don't see a trend of big Portuguese people though.

Until I looked downstairs, checking out how much people are eating there generally. See the 2 aunties in the picture below? If you look carefully at the pile of meat they're consuming, maybe by clicking on the picture? LOL Portuguese aunties are quite hearty eaters :P But then again, they do have less sedentary lifestyle given the hilly town and all the walking they do... just not used to the idea probably as my grandma barely eats much meat at her age.