Food in Portugal
When my family travel one of the things we enjoy is to try the local cuisine. Sometimes we have the most delicious food and other times the food or dish is 'interesting but not one we will be trying again'.
When we were in Portugal we made an effort to try local dishes whenever we could and this tells a bit about our experiences with these Portuguese dishes tried.
We drove to a town in the Algarve called Ponta da Piedade and in a lovely little restaurant there we had a bowl of CATAPLANA . Now a little confusingly A Cataplana is a traditional Portuguese dish crafted in copper and lined with tin but it is also the name of the pan it is cooked in.
The dish we had was a kind of seafood and pork stew with lots of clams, pork, other seafood,chorizo, wine, a bit of chilli and vegetables. Some we had were creamier than others which were more tomato based. Whichever recipe we ate they were all really tasty and the dish allowed the flavours to develop and blend beautifully.
Seafood of course is very popular and one favourite is SARDINES. I am not a huge fan as I am not keen on fish with heads still one. I also don't like fiddling with skin and bones so after one I had had enough and this was not something I ordered a second time. They tasted good but needed too much fiddling for me.
I do love the clams, especially the razor clams and another favourite is squid or octopus which is something we eat rarely in this country but I do enjoy when in Spain or Portugal.
Another dish we enjoyed while in the Algarve was "carne de porco a alentejana",which is a sort of minced and marinated pork dish with red peppers and clams and was one I would happily come back for a second time.
PIRI PIRI is of course linked with Africa and Portugal and these hot little peppers add their kick to lots of meals beyond the famous 'Nandos' restaurants. You will often find a bottle of piri piri on restaurant tables and you can add it to a variety of dishes while cooking or after to your personal taste.
A dish that my husband ordered in Lisbon was Salt cod or BACALHAU and this is a food found across Portugal. It reminds me of Jamaican saltfish and is not something I especially like but I do like trying things so tried my husband's dish. It was actually quite tasty but not a dish I would want to eat all of. According to various Portuguese websites the Portuguese are said to have "365 different preparations for it, including fritters, croquettes or poached with tomato sauce and vegetables."
Portugal make a variety of cheeses and one of their most famous is a really delicious really soft cheese that comes wrapped in a special linen called 'Queijo Serra da Estrela' It taste a bit like a soft Brie it is made of ewe's milk and you sort of spoon it onto bread.
Of course olives and olive oil are something that is found across the Med but still always great to eat the different kinds.
Moving on to sweet stuff and while we were in Lisbon we had to try the unique 'pastéis de Belém'. This is a really delicious creamy sweet custard tart that was originally made in a monastery in the 19th century.
My husband is a huge fan of custard pies so when he saw the pastel de nata he had to try them. I am not a fan of egg custards so I did have a bite but although I love sweet things anything that tastes of egg is a nono for me. My husband really liked it though and had several more while we were there. I have to say the Belem pastry was pretty darned similar to these.
Naturally Port is something Portugal is well known for but as a more easily drinkable drink I enjoyed a glass or two of Vinho Verde which was a light and refreshing white wine with a slight spritz.
There it is my little culinary journey in Portugal.