By Alison Cayne
10 THINGS I LOVE ABOUT LISBON
Pastéis is the national pastry which is sweet and custardy, but I like the almond pastries even more.
Broa is a cornbread that comes with most meals. It’s made with cornmeal and flour. The outside is crusty and the inside is chewy. It’s a little like a corn muffin, but not sweet.
3) Sardine Paté
If heaven were in the ocean, this is what it would taste like.
4) Red Kidney Beans
I love the perfectly cooked red kidney beans. I like to try beans in every country I visit because I feel like it shows me a lot about the everyday culture and preferences of a place. It's hard to get beans in Spain and Portugal that aren't prepared with pork (which I don’t eat) but they do exist. They make light red kidney beans and prepare them just the way I like them: not crunchy, not overcooked, salted gently and filling without being a rock.
The cheese here is phenomenal. They have fresh cheese similar to ricotta, but for a stinkier, gooier cheese, try the Queijo de Azeitão. It’s a hand-crafted unpasteurized sheep’s mike cheese that has been made at the foot of the Arrabida Mountains for generations.
Madeira comes from the island of Madeira (a Portuguese archipelago) and is made with different grapes. Trust me, it's delish. It was an American favorite before Coke came around.
Make sure to try this delicious Portuguese cherry liqueur.
Try the local Port Sangria, which is made with white port, tonic, strawberries and thyme.
9) Portuguese Table Wines
The Douro is a region of northern Portugal and the home of Port. The Douro river flows east to west from Spain. Though Douro is best known for its port, production here is fairly evenly split between port and table wines.
Port is wine fortified with brandy which stops fermentation and gives it a more viscous, sweeter feel and taste. Single quinta vintage ports are from single estates -- the Port is only made from a single vineyard. Standard port bottlings are made from grapes sourced from several vineyards. Think single batch maple syrup vs. Vermont maple syrup. I love vintage ports -- these are ports that are only made in years with the best vintages, so that’s once every 3 or 4 years. 1977 is the best year from the past 40 years, but yes, you'll pay for it.
WHERE TO EAT & DRINK
Pastéis de Belém
Go early in the morning to Casa Pastéis de Belém for cream tarts. These are tarts with a history. In the 17th century, they were made by Catholic nuns at the Jerónimos Monastery in Belém, Lisbon. In 1837, Casa Pastéis de Belém was the first place outside of the convent to sell them and they named them Pastéis de Belém. You can get them every morning warm out of the oven, sprinkled with cinnamon and powdered sugar. It's always packed, so but if you don't feel like waiting, most of the pasteis around town are pretty awesome. They take their coffee pretty seriously too. I especially love the almond torte.
Rua Belém 84-92, 1300-085 Lisbon
T: +351.21.363.7423 | www.pasteisdebelem.pt
The sardine amuse bouche is briny and crispy and just perfect. They pair wines with the food beautifully and without a lot of false pretension. I love the ‘The Garden of the Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs.’ It's baby mushrooms with bread crumbs and the gooey egg hit all the right spots.
Largo de São Carlos 10, 1200-410 Lisbon, Portugal
T: +351.21.342.0607 | www.belcanto.pt
Come here for Portuguese/ Mozambique food and the bonus of a river view.
Cais do Sodré, Lisbon
T: +351.21.342.3611 | www.ibo-restaurante.pt
DRINK PORT, SMOKE CIGARS
Restaurante Meson Andaluz
Perfect for drinking Port and smoking Cuban cigars.
Travessa do Alecrim 4, Lisbon 1200-019
Restaurante Clube de Jornalistas
For fresh fish, rich cheese, strong coffee and complex wine. Smoke Cuban cigars, sip port and listen to Fado music until late at night, then wander home through beautiful old buildings, winding alleys and streets paved in ceramic tiles. The music literally fills the air here and the sea air makes everything better.
Rua das Trinas 129, Lisbon 1200-274
T: +351.21.297.7138 | www.restauranteclubedejornalistas.com
SIP PORTUGUESE LIQUEUR
This is an historic little bar (more like a window) off of Praça Dom Pedro IV (aka Rossio Square), where everyone goes to get little cups of a cherry liqueur called Ginjinha.
Largo Sao Domingos 8, Lisbon 1150
Restaurante Porto Santa Maria
This is a thirty minute drive or train ride from Lisbon. There really is nothing like eating fish that tastes like the sea. At this seaside restaurant, you choose your fish from the basket in front of you and they prepare it baked in salt or fried. I opt for baked, although you can’t go wrong, everything is pretty awesome. Once the server expertly fillets it, he advises you to drizzle a little garlicky olive oil on it, which I’m always happy to do! Along with a cold bottle of rose, this is my favorite summer lunch.
Estrada do Guincho, 2750 Cascais
T: + 351.21.487.9450 | www.portosantamaria.com
Walk down to the pristine beach, lounge under an umbrella for 2 euros, and take a nap with the cooling ocean breeze. Grab an espresso before you take the short train ride back to Lisbon.
Alison Cayne is the founder of Haven’s Kitchen in New York City. This multi-story Chelsea carriage house is a cafe, artisan food shop, supper club, cooking school and event space all wrapped in a passion for sustainable eating.
109 West 17th Street, New York, NY 10011
T: 212.929.7900 | havenskitchen.com
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