For me, there is no better way to explore a city than hopping from cafe to restaurant sampling all the different cuisines and tasting local wines of course. A recent trip to Lisbon was no exception to this however, I was not quite prepared for how different the food was going to be. Generally when travelling throughout Europe, I expect to try a selection of traditional foods but majority of the time will recognise the foods I am tasting…not in Lisbon!
On our quest for lunch on the first day, we stumbled across a restaurant called Sol e Pesca. This amazing restaurant is famous for selling canned fish and little else. The tins decorate the interior of the restaurant along with fishing tackle and unfavourably tiny chairs. Feeling adventurous we ordered what the waiter described as ‘little fish’ with two balls of sweet potato mash all to be washed down with a glass of salt water.
Feeling a little confused (and thirsty!) we decided to head off for a coffee and had our first taste of Pasteis de Nata – delicious milk custard tarts. These bite sized tarts cost €1 and are displayed in every bakery window throughout Lisbon offering the perfect excuse for a little indulgence!
We figured it was only right for us to experience Portuguese wines and headed to Wine Bar do Castelo near to the famous St George’s Castle. We sipped our way through a selection of full bodied red wines with the Terras de S. Miguel Dao Region, 2012 being a particular highlight.
For dinner we headed to fish restaurant Cervejaria Ramiro for a feast of fresh fish. Here I experienced my first (and last!) oyster, got in a complete mess bashing the meat out of the crab, ate garlicky clams and got attacked by a lobster thanks to the waiter! The service was lightening speed with the waiter clearing away your plates before you had finished and picking up your beer to encourage you to hurry up. I wouldn’t say it was a relaxed meal but it was certainly an experience!
We found it increasingly hard to find a restaurant which served what we would class as a traditional meal with meat/fish, vegetables and potatoes and came to the conclusion that this is not something which is done in Portugal. It was so refreshing (and a little nerve-wracking) to look through the menu and not recognise anything that you would usually order and it certainly made us branch out from traditional foods.
If you’re a foodie, I would certainly recommend visiting Lisbon. Word of advice though – if you find yourself thirsty whilst wandering around, be sure to order the water without added salt!