Our favorite restaurant in Sintra

Susan P:

If you prefer seafood over turkey, you might try this place.

Originally posted on Salt of Portugal:

Azenhas do Mar Composit

Our favorite restaurant in the Sintra region is not in Sintra. It is in a nearby beach called Azenhas do Mar. If you’re visiting Sintra it is worth traveling the 12 km to restaurant Adega das Azenhas.

Located in an old wine cellar, Adega serves Portuguese fare without a trace of foreign influence. Everything on the menu is simply great: fried codfish, hake fillets, codfish cakes, black pork chops, fried cuttlefish, grilled fish eggs. Some of the most delicious dishes have untranslatable Portuguese names: pasteis de massa tenra, rissois de leitão, cozido à Portuguesa.

If you go to Azenhas do Mar at night you’ll enjoy a great dinner. If you go during the day, you’ll have the added bonus of seeing the gorgeous landscape of the Colares region.

Colares is the plural of colar, a word that means necklace. It is a fitting word to describe this region that surrounds Sintra with…

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Ruby, Vintage or Tawny?

Susan P:

Port Wine is of Portugal’s export.

Originally posted on Salt of Portugal:

2 Port winesPeople in the Douro valley say that babies and port wines are often born at night. Port producers let the grape juice ferment for about three days. They choose the perfect moment to add a neutral grape spirit (aguardente) that stops the fermentation before the yeast eats all the grape sugar. This moment often comes in the middle of the third night.

Most of the Douro grapes are used to produce ruby ports. These inexpensive ports are first stored in cement or stainless steel vats to prevent oxidation and then bottled. The result is a wine that retains a dark ruby color and fresh fruit flavors.

When the quality of the grapes is exceptional, port-wine producers declare a vintage year. These ports are stored in wood casks for one or two years and then bottled. With little exposure to air, the wine is dark red. Aging brings out complex flavors, such as notes of vanilla, chocolate, and…

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In Moments Such As These (While Paris Is Bleeding)

Susan P:

n Donne: Poems “For whom the bell tolls”

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.”

Originally posted on john pavlovitz:

Paris is bleeding tonight.

We know little more than this with any certainty, and yet this is the only thing we really need to know right now.

It is more than enough to enable us to do what we are most qualified and called to do from where we are in this moment—It is enough for us to bleed too. What we do know is more than sufficient enough for us to run to suffer alongside those who are suffering.

We know that right now mothers, fathers, children, friends, spouses, lovers, coworkers, and neighbors are grieving and hurting, and though we may not recognize their faces or know their names or speak their language, it is in our grieving and hurting that we assure them that they are known and loved. Our solidarity is pledged to them in tears and prayers and the brokenness of our hearts. It is a sacred kinship offered in the raw-throated cries that we release into…

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Sophia’s cookbook

Susan P:

Here is one of the tenets of good cooking no matter what cuisine you are planning to cook.

Originally posted on Salt of Portugal:

We spent a wonderful afternoon with Maria Azevedo Coutinho Vasconcelos e Souza, an aristocratic octogenarian who was a close friend of the great poet Sophia de Mello Breyner Andersen.

Sophia liked to eat well and was a great cook. One day, she gave Maria a handwritten cookbook with her favorite recipes. This little book shows Sophia’s attention to detail and joie de vivre.

In the first page, Sophia lays out some general advice:

1 – smell everything before cooking;

2 – use small amounts of salt and pepper; they mask the natural taste of the ingredients;

3 – Salt the fish just before cooking;

4 – Be faithful to the nature and the truth of every flavor.

“This book is a proof of her friendship,” Maria told us, “and friendships like ours are becoming rare because they require an element that is increasingly scarce: time.”

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The rebirth of Lisbon

Susan P:

Even ruins can be delightful to the eye.

Originally posted on Salt of Portugal:


One of the most beautiful monuments in Lisbon is a ruin. The Carmo convent, founded in 1389, was destroyed by the earthquake that stroke Lisbon on November 1, 1755. The convent’s gothic arches were left reaching towards the sky, asking questions for which we have no answers.

Today, Carmo is a place of peace and tranquility. For we know that from the ashes of the old city, a new Lisbon was reborn.

The Carmo convent is located in the homonymous Largo do Carmo in Lisbon.

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A monarchic cake

Susan P:

A great sweet!

Originally posted on Salt of Portugal:

Dona AméliaIn 1901, the Portuguese royal family embarked on a visit to the island of Madeira and Azores. The event was a great honor for the local populations but presented them with a difficult problem: how do you choose a gift for monarchs who have everything?

The Azores Terceira island offered queen Dona Amélia a new cake made with local ingredients: corn flower, raisins, sugar cane molasses, and cinnamon. The queen enjoyed it so much that the new creation became known as the Dona Amélia cake.

More than a century later, the cake continues to be popular in the Terceira island and for a good reason. We loved the Donas Amélias we tried at O Forno, a great pastry store in downtown Angra do Heroism.

The ability of royalty to inspire the delicious Donas Amélias makes us wonder whether we should restore the monarchy.

O Forno is located on Rua São João in Angra do Heroismo, Terceira, Azores, tel. 295 213 729.

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The Alcobaça game

Susan P:

If you travel with children, it’s always a good idea to have something for them to entertain themselves. This is the Portuguese version.

Originally posted on Salt of Portugal:

Alcobaça Composite

It can be hard to visit monuments with little kids, so it is always a good idea to engage them in a game. If you visit Alcobaça, a beautiful abbey in the middle of Portugal, you can ask your kids to go on a treasure hunt. They can look for stones with carved initials and photograph them. This game can turn an otherwise boring visit into a memorable one.

Masons often carved their personal marks on stones placed in the parts of the cathedral where they worked. They did it to show pride in their work but also to claim the work as theirs so they could get paid.

Centuries later, these signatures remind us of the humble people whose hard work created a legacy of enduring beauty.

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Casa de Pasto

Susan P:

Some of my favorite foods this week.

Originally posted on Salt of Portugal:

Casa de Pasto

Casa de Pasto was the designation given to humble restaurants that served comfort food to country folks, making them feel at home when they visited the city. So, it was with low expectations that we walked up the stairs of a Lisbon restaurant called Casa de Pasto. We were greeted by an exuberant decoration that combines ceramics and artifacts sold in country fairs with a deft sense of design.

The food was a revelation. First, a gazpacho so intense that it could make a Spaniard blush with pride. Then, the freshest sea bass, perfectly grilled, the kind of delight that you can only enjoy in Portugal. Next, we shared a grilled veal T-bone steak, so large and succulent that it would bring tears to the eyes of a Florentine. The meal’s ending was a chocolate mousse so perfect it could convince a Belgian to move to Lisbon.

Casa de Pasto is a restaurant…

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Memorable pastries from Vila Real

Susan P:

If you are not hungry before you look at this, your sweet tooth will be clamoring for some!

Originally posted on Salt of Portugal:

Crista de GaloMore than a century ago, a baker from Vila Real was given four secret recipes from the local Santa Clara convent. The pastries she made with these recipes were so extraordinary that she decided to turn her bakery into a pastry store.

Today, her great grandchildren continue to use the same prized recipes at Casa Lapão, a pastry store in Vila Real. Their most popular pastry is called “Crista de Galo,” which means rooster comb.  We recommend that you try them with your eyes closed so you can better appreciate the heavenly combination of the flaky dough with the egg and almond filling.

If you’re near Vila Real, a stop at Casa Lapão can turn an ordinary day into a memorable one.

Casa Lapão is located at Rua da Misericórdia 53/55, Vila Real, tel 259 324 146, email casalapao@gmail.com. Click here for their website. 

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