Posts from Portugal by Camilla Lovell
My latest foodie adventure was a road trip where I ate at a rockstar chef's table and found Porto's take on hangover food.
My partner Pablo and I visited Portugal for exactly the little break we'd hoped for after seven weeks of a strict lockdown at home in Spain. We weren't allowed to even exercise outdoors - only individual, short trips to buy food or medicine. The economies of some countries truly rely on tourism, so being able to support our neighbouring country was important to us too.
As a foodie and avid photography lover, now I'm obsessed with this charming place. With its beautiful beaches, its inexpensive culture and the people! Also, of course, the food. We started and ended our road trip in Lisbon with the Algarve, Cascais, Ericeira and Porto along the way.
As the country is only around 344 miles from north to south, it's super easy to hop from city to city on a road trip. I didn't really know what to expect in terms of food, except that a Pastéis de nata, (or two or three) would be on the agenda.
Here are 6 of my slices of foodie heaven from our road trip:
I don´t eat meat or dairy and my diet is predominantly plant based. Occasionally, I do eat fish and was really surprised with the incredible options Portugal had to offer, such as…
Pastéis de nata: This egg custard tart is baked in a very hot oven so the custard puffs and the pastry has a crunch.
Peixinhos da horta: These green beans in batter are a Portugeuse take on tempura.
Franchesinha: This is hangover comfort food. It's a doorstop of a sandwich, with layers of pork, smoked sausage, bacon and a slice of beef. It's topped off with a fried egg and cheese sauce (Even if I ate meat, I don't think I'd try one as I think my stomach would explode!) Porto now has incredible vegan options too.
Caldo verde: A green vegetable soup, which traditionally includes chorizo, and can of course be vegan friendly too.
Bacalhau à brás: A dish made from shreds of salted cod, onions and thinly sliced fried potatoes.(One of the best meals I´ve eaten. We tried this dish at Cantinho do Avillez in Porto and just 'wow'!
Livraria Lello, Porto: A beautiful bookshop featuring this crimson staircase (Pictured below) Opened in 1906 by brothers José and António Lello, it's one of the oldest bookstores in Portugal with incredible architecture.
Watch the sunset from one of Lisbon's famous miradouro (viewpoints). I recommend: Miradouro Santa Luzia (pictured below), Cais das Colunas, Miradouro da Senhora do Monte. Plus any street or corner of the Alfama district.
We spent our days jumping from brunch spot to picnic spot, in order to keep the trip's cost down. But we are so glad to have enjoyed a meal at Cantinho do Avillez, where rockstar chef José Avilléz shows his Michelin-star talent. The cuisine is inspired by traditional Portuguese gastronomy and influenced by José's world travels.
4Pastéis de Nata
Portugal offers plenty of plant-based options, but I did struggle to find vegan Pastéis de Nata. We once walked close to an hour just to find a cafe with dairy-free Pastéis de Nata (I call that determination.) So as soon as I got home I wanted to give it a whirl and make my own. Currently, I'm perfecting the recipe but, as soon as I have, I will share.
Pablo and I both love healthy food. While travelling we usually fast in the mornings, as we tend to not set our alarms, and opt for exploring the city before breakfast. We usually enjoy our first meal around 12pm and we love brunch.
Here's my Lisbon best brunch list:
Dear Breakfast (The best avocado toast)
The Mill (For coffee and cake)
Fauna y Flora (Best Açaí bowl)
Nicolau (For atmosphere, central location and pancakes!)
Café Janis (Best for outside seats and tropical vibes)
My best post-brunch spots:
Hamburgueria do Bairro (This burger restaurant was so good and reasonable we came back twice. Try their tempeh burger with the herbs mayo)
Mercado de Ribiera (Time Out Market)
A trip highlight was stopping to surf at the coastal village of Ericeira, which reminded me of my Bali trip last year. It's a town where I can say, “I can see myself living there”. It's a hotspot for digital nomads. With its relaxed atmosphere, remarkable coastal views, beautiful sandy beaches and community feel, it stole my heart.
Ericeira is often seen as the surf mecca of Europe, and in 2011 it was chosen as part of the World Surfing reserve. In another lifetime I dreamed of being that surfer girl who arrives at the beach, rolling in on her skateboard. Newsflash - that's definitely not me! But not to worry, if you've never surfed or waves aren´t really your thing, as there are brilliant beginners' surf lessons here. Here, truly, we found a sense of calm that we´ve found so hard to find in this 2020.
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