Eating & Drinking, Travels

Lisbon in Winter

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For some reason, each time I've been in Lisbon it's been rainy. Given that I've only ever visited in late December, the rainiest month of the year, but I still say that's no excuse.

We did actually have one day of sun, right when we first arrived. We got into the Lisbon airport early on a sunny Saturday morning; took a coffee and Pastel de Nata; popped a Portuguese sim card into our phones and proceeded to the apartment we were staying at. We knew it wouldn't be ready yet, and it was nice and warm outside so after dropping our bags we made our way to the nearest park for a nice long jet-lagged nap in the sun.

After checking in and fully exploring the enormous apartment, we decided to explore the neighbourhood and went to the nearby Centro de Arte Moderna,  which had a nice exhibition of prints from Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso. The highlight of the centre, though, was the lovely garden surrounding. 

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Somehow I managed to stay awake until 10pm which was enough time to realize that the people upstairs had a very active group of elephants living with them, who liked to run up and down the very, very, very long hallway from dawn til dusk. 

Here is the hallway equivalent on our floor...

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Our room - inspired by the famous black cock of Portugal. 

Our room - inspired by the famous black cock of Portugal. 

Jed's parents got in late and we just managed to hear the bell through our jet-lagged sleepy haze. We went to Sintra the next day - an adventure you can see here - but the day after that we toured around Lisbon together.

Our first stop was the Fundação Aga Khan to meet one of Greg's colleagues within the ADKN. After a tour of the beautiful building and a nice conversation on the Aga Khan's plans within Portugal, we went back into the drizzly weather for a walk to the sardine shop.

Just a side note that those in the inner circle of the AKDN call the Aga Khan "HH" for short. Which, of course, stands for "His Highness." Obviously.

MUST... BUY... SARDINES...

Being addicted to small fish packed into tins of various lightly flavoured oils is not something I would count as a bad thing. Especially if you have a taste for really well designed sardine-tin packaging, which I do. I wouldn't hold it against you if you came back from Lisbon with 10 kilos of dead weight made up of sardine, mackerel & herring and felt sad to distribute them as gifts because you wanted to keep them all to yourself. Anyways, now you know what to bring me next time you want to thank me for being so awesome.

Stop by Conserveira de Lisboa for ideas on how to furnish the pantry you will want to build for yourself to house your collection of dead fish. And don't forget my mackerels in spicy oil! 

I believe around this point we agreed to find somewhere to lunch. Our choice was probably not the best restaurant in Lisbon, but they did have a fine selection of baked goods. One of the best things about travelling with parents who treat you to everything is that you no longer have to restrain yourself when you want a cookie; just glance sideways towards the baked items a little mournfully and behold the magical "family sized" box appear. 

I recommend the not very Portuguese but nonetheless delicious "Linzer" cookies (thanks Austria!); they look like this:

Image via Cupcakes and Cashmere

Image via Cupcakes and Cashmere

Do you like jam? Do you like butter cookies? Do you like sugar? I do. I could eat these until the cows come home.

And let's face it, I live in Toronto. The cows are NEVER coming home.

The rest of the afternoon was spent window shopping; we found a TIGER store (Danish dollar store, which is really more like.... 5 dollar store). We had an early afternoon to rest and prepare ourselves for one of the most outstanding meals of the holiday:

Taberna da Rua das Flores

Go there. Or at least visit their facebook page.

Slightly larger than tapas. The way sharing plates should be. Not like in Canada where a 'tapas style restaurant' is just a thinly veiled excuse for 'tiny portions that cost a shitload of money and taste alright, if only you could get more than a half-mouthful." I'm talking about generous sharing portions, like what comes out of the oven at your grandma's place and she insists that you eat something before you waste away. 

Our entire meal for 4, of which I think we shared 8 plates and had 2 desserts plus a bottle or two of wine AND beer, cost 94 euros. I'm not shitting you. This is impossible to understand, but completely true. The food was fresh, local, artfully prepared and tasted incredible. There are only 3 or 4 tables, so reservations are recommended. 

What else can I say? Lisbon, even in the rain, you shine.