Our favorite tasca in Lisbon

Susan P:

I have eaten in some of those delight full little “holes in the wall, and I can vouch for the great food in those places. I need to visit this one!

Originally posted on Salt of Portugal:

Das FloresTascas are modest, inexpensive restaurants that offer a small, seasonal menu. They are often family affairs; the parents cook and the kids wait the tables. The quality of tascas is highly variable, some are good, a few are great, many are just passable.

When tascas become popular, they often have trouble coping with success, and their quality suffers. That is why people who find a great tasca usually like to keep it secret.

We’ll break with these social norms and tell you the name of our favorite tasca in Lisbon: Das Flores in Rua das Flores. This establishment is not to be confused with the more posh (and also very good) Taverna da Rua das Flores located on the same street.

You could write a dissertation about the eating habits of Lisbon residents by studying Das Flores’ menu. It includes items like poached grouper, grilled sole, codfish cakes with tomato rice, pork and clams Alentejo, and grilled lamb chops. All perfectly prepared with pristine ingredients. Many items on the menu cost less than 10…

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Flash Mob In Coimbra

Coimbra is approximately half-way between the north and the south of Portugal.

“The history of the University of Coimbra dates back to the century subsequent to the very foundation of the Portuguese nation, since the University was established in the 13th century, in 1290.”

This is a very short but beautiful “Flash Mob.”

If you are interested in more info about Coimbra, check out this link: http://visit.uc.pt/en/about/

Oh Porto!

Susan P:

Porto is where I first saw women at a communal wash house where women could do their laundry if they did not have facilities at home. The closest I came to it was washing our clothes by hand in the bathtub.

Originally posted on Salt of Portugal:

O Porto, Rui Barreiros Duarte, ink on paper, 2015.

Portugal’s second largest city and the unofficial capital of the North is called Oporto. The city has a much older feel than Lisbon. While much of Lisbon was destroyed by the 1755 earthquake, Oporto preserved its meandering medieval streets and ancient buildings.

Oporto is a place full of surprises. The city looks austere, but its granite architecture is just a ruse to make the gorgeous Douro river look even more seductive. Life in Oporto is hectic, but residents always take the time to give visitors a warm reception. There are plenty of restaurants that look ordinary but serve great food. And there are many hidden treasures in the port-wine caves that store, sometimes for centuries, the precious nectars from the Douro valley.

The Portuguese call the city Porto, while the English call it Oporto. There are two theories about this discrepancy. The most plausible is that…

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We hope it rains in August

Susan P:

Just as people in the USA have learned to turn skimpy meals into a gourmet meal, the Portuguese have their own secret recipes to carry hungry people through the tough times.

Originally posted on Salt of Portugal:

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When friends who visit Portugal tell us they tasted some amazing mushrooms, we always worry they are mistaken. During hard times, Portuguese cooks found ways to make tasty dishes out of many animal parts to make sure nothing went to waste. So those delicious “mushrooms” were probably pig ears in coriander sauce or sautéed veal kidneys.

But Portugal does have amazing wild mushrooms. They’re called “míscaros” (pronounced “meescaros”) and grow in the pine forests of the Beira region.  You can stew them, cook them with meat, or combine them with rice. They’re one of the crown jewels of Portuguese cuisine.

One of our grandfathers loved eating míscaros. He was always happy when it rained in August because that meant that míscaros would be abundant in the Fall. We remember him very fondly for many things, big and small. And we always like it when it rains in August.

You can often find míscaros in the Fall at Salsa & Coentros, one of…

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Adventures on the peach tree island

Susan P:

Beautiful scenery along the water front and “Peach Island.”

Originally posted on Salt of Portugal:

Composit do Pessegueiro-3One of the most captivating beaches in Portugal is the Pessegueiro (peach tree) beach near Porto Covo in Alentejo. It is wonderful to seat on the sand feeling the sea breeze and enjoying the view of the Pessegueiro island. The island looks so mysterious that it is impossible to resist the temptation to plunge in the emerald waters and swim a shore. It is great fun to explore the 15th century fort and the ruins that date from Roman times.

In the afternoon, it is fantastic to go horseback ridding along the coast. Claudia Castanheira and Paulo Rosa of Herdade do Pessegueiro provide all you need: well-trained, intelligent horses, horse-ridding instruction, and a picnic. Riding a horse through trails and sand dunes,  feeling one with nature is an unforgettable adventure.

Click here for the Herdade do Pessegueiro web site.

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Peniche’s golden waves

Susan P:

An interesting historical event

Originally posted on Salt of Portugal:

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In 1786 a Spanish galleon, San Pedro de Alcantara, departed from Peru loaded with a fortune in silver and gold and a precious botanical collection of tropical specimens. The galleon also carried a famous passenger: Fernando Tupac Amaru, an inca whose father had started the most successful uprising against Spanish rule in Peru.

The ship’s captain used a French map that omitted the position of the Berlenga islands. This error had tragic consequences: on the night of February 2, 1786 San Pedro de Alcantara shipwrecked near Papoa, a small peninsula on the coast of Peniche. Almost everybody died but Tupac Amaru managed to swim ashore.

The Spaniards hired divers from all over Europe to come to Peniche help salvage the galleon’s treasures. They also succeeded in recapturing Tupac Amaru.

Today, Peniche’s perfect tubular waves attracts surfers from all over the world. How many of them know that beneath those waves once lied a fortune in silver and gold?

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The best grilled sardines in Lisbon

Susan P:

A lovely Portuguese treat!

Originally posted on Salt of Portugal:

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The best place to eat grilled sardines in Lisbon is Casa do Peixe, a modest restaurant on the second floor of the Saldanha food market. This eatery dates back to the first part of the 20th century, when a cook from Galicia came to Lisbon and set up a few tables in the market to serve poached fish. The restaurant quickly became a destination for food lovers.

The current owner, Aníbal Sousa, bought the restaurant 30 years ago. When the Saldanha market moved from its graceful old building to its current unremarkable location, he added a charcoal grill and started to grill sardines and other fish.

The restaurant is noisy and there is no ambience. But it is always full of locals who love to eat fresh fish, everyone from clerks and shopkeepers to government officials and business executives.

Three cooks work nonstop to produce a constant flow of perfectly cooked…

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The Portugal Adventure – The Rain in Spain

http://www.greece-map.net/europe.htm if you’d like to map the trip.

On the road - Harry conferring with Tó Figueira. Tó was  one of the young adults who worked with the Americans.

On the road – Harry conferring with Tó Figueira. Tó was one of the young adults who worked with the Americans.

 

On the Road

Ebullient teens crammed  the vans with suitcases and bodies.  The astonished sun blinked  as he peered  over the horizon. Vigorous activity at this early hour seemed indecent.  The babbling of Portuguese language assaulted my sleepy ears.   One year of Spanish in high school did not begin to cover the differences between the countries.


The hot desert held little charm. With the of sunrise it had turned into a sauna. But the heat did not deter the teens. Our boys thrust their heads out of the window and bellowed cat-calls to the girl of each town. Then we stopped at a café for lunch. There was no menu.

I should have ordered whatever every else had. What was meant to be a short stop ended nearly two hours. The rest rooms were the worst  I had ever walked into. I managed to enter and exit without touching anything. I was not sorry to say “adios” to the café.

Tó’s English was good, and he had declared that he would translate the conversations for me. I put too much faith in that promise. The translating began well, but it is exhausting to sustain a conversation in a sometime language.   More frequently, Tó  and Harry were involved in other conversations.Without translations. I found myself listening to a lot of Portuguese.

Madrid

We arrived in Madrid about 9:30 that evening tired and hungry. As I was wondering where we would  find a place that was open. We walked up to a restaurant, and the place was closed. My stomach kind of rumbled. It was a long time since lunch. with the management, they agreed to open early for us. Yes, in Spain, 10 p.m. is an early supper.

The waiter seated us and gave us menus. I now had three languages to field. I recognized “pollo.” Yes, chicken! I jumped on it. Orders made, the Portuguese asked me what I was eating, and that was how I learned that  Portuguese chickens  are “frangos.”  And we waited. A long time.

During the long interval between ordering and the eating,  the Portuguese tried valiantly to converse with the exhausted Americana. They were indefatigable. Finally, someone asked me, “How are you?” slowly, and in Portuguese. I dredged up  my high school Spanish and responded, “Estoy cansada.” (I am tired.”) My interrogator instantly came back with something that the folks around us found hysterically funny. She repeated it again slowly in Portuguese: “Estás cansada, ou casada?” I thought that I was getting a Portuguese language lesson.  But, from the tone of the laughter it occasioned, it had nothing to do with a vocabulary malfunction. It was more like they were laughing at a joke.  And and it was contagious.

I looked to Harry in my best damsel in distress expression. Would you believe that man was still laughing hysterically at this  joke that I did not understand? Finally, he caught his breath, and told me:  “She asked you if you were tired, or married.” A few explanations, and I got the word play: casada =  married and cansada = tired. I laughed again, this time with them. I recognized that  the humor was the right hand of fellowship. I knew then that I could fall with love these people. Who else did I know who could make me laugh even when the joke was on me?