Last weekend Steve and I went for a long weekend in Lisbon, Portugal. As usual I did lots of research before hand and had a jam-packed itinerary, including plenty of places to eat and drink. We arrived late on the Friday night and were greeted by our friendly ‘Airbnb’ host Fernando who showed us to our apartment based in Cais do Sodré.
When exploring cities, if possible I try to walk to most places to get a real feel for the place and it also allows Steve to build up those steps on his Fitbit! On the Saturday morning we set out straight away on a mission to sample the famous custard tarts at Pastéis de Belém. This was just over an hours walk which got nicer the further out we got. We stopped off at Ar de Mar for brunch which to our disappointment wasn’t being served on that particular day. But as it was almost lunch time anyway, I thought it was acceptable to order pork and clams which I’d heard is a traditional Portuguese dish. It came in a bowl loaded with pork, clams and potato rostis in a delicious tomato and paprika sauce. Steve had steak in a creamy sauce.
After lunch we continued along the River Tagus until we spotted the impressive Padrão dos Descobrimentos which in English means ‘The Monument to the Discoveries’, created by Cottinelli Telmo and the sculptor Leopoldo de Almeida which celebrates the age of discovery. Then across from here was Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, a beautifully constructed former monastery of the Order of Saint Jerome. A short walk down from the monastery is the famous Pastéis de Belém which was flooded with tourists eager to get a taste of these famous tarts made from a secret recipe passed down from the neighbouring monastery. Despite the queue, we quickly got served – four custard tarts to go. We had a quick nosy around the bakery which is absolutely huge and offers plenty of tables if you’d prefer to sit in. As it was such a lovely day, we sat over in the adjacent park. The tarts were delicious – lovely warm custard inside crispy pastry, I’m so glad we got two each! With full bellies and 15,000 steps under our belts we decided to get the train back to Cais do Sodré.
We walked towards the beautifully quaint ancient side of the city known as the Alfama neighbourhood and then through small side streets and challenging hills to São Jorge Castle where you get terrific 360 degree views of Lisbon. As the evening grew in we thought it was time to get a drink and went to Park Bar, Calçada do Combro, 58. This bar is located on top of a car park and isn’t signposted anywhere. We walked past it several times and it wasn’t until Steve spotted the trees on top of a car park that we were able to pinpoint its location. We joined a queue of young, trendy people for the elevator to take us up to the seventh floor. It felt like we’d all be invited to a secret party! Park had a really cool vibe, with great views over the city and yummy cocktails.
For dinner we decided to go to Segundo Muelle which was just across from our apartment. Every time we walked past it the smells were incredible. The restaurant served Peruvian style food and the menu had all sorts of interesting dishes on it. Our waiter brought us over some deep fried banana crisps and corn with spicy sauce and quinoa and pumpkin bread which were all absolutely delicious. For my main meal I had Tacu Tanque which was rice stuffed with smoked salmon, covered in a creamy sauce with mixed shellfish. Steve had Plancha Anticuchera – beef with potatoes and corn.
The next day we got up and went to breakfast at Tartine. The bakery at the front offers an impressive range of fresh pastries and at the back is the café. We both had eggs benedict served on freshly baked brioche and lashings of hollandaise sauce.
After breakfast we walked over to Rossio station where we caught the train to Sintra, a 40 minute ride away. Sintra is situated in the mountains and was very pretty with buildings that looked like they could be from a fairytale. After a couple of hours exploring we headed back to Rossio and made our way to the restaurant Cervejaria Ramiro which whilst watching Rick Stein’s Long Weekends in Lisbon, I made a note to go here. It is a very successful business started by the Ramiro family. They pride themselves on selling the best shellfish. Steve is not a big fan of seafood, but to my amazement he said he was happy to give this restaurant a try. I think it helped that I told him that they traditionally finish the meal with a steak sandwich for dessert! Expect to queue to get in here, however we went around 3pm and didn’t have to wait too long. We sat down at our table and were given a plate stacked high with bread drizzled with olive oil. We ordered garlic prawns which came in a pan with sizzling oil and loads of garlic. The clams arrived in a garlic sauce which was great for dunking the bread in to. Both dishes tasted incredible, even Steve thoroughly enjoyed it. I just pitied anyone who had to experience our stench of garlic! After our seafood had been cleared away we were presented with our “classic prego”, a deliciously tender steak sandwich.
The Lisbon Time Out Market which again was featured in Rick Stein’s programme, was less than five minutes walk from our apartment. The market opened its doors in 2014 and receives over two million visitors a year. It houses 34 kiosks all offering a great selection of fresh food made to order, with rows of tables and chairs allowing you to casually dine. Steve and me walked around the stalls several times and mulled over our choices with a couple of beers. My decision was made when a young guy came and sat opposite us with a king prawn pad Thai from the Asian Lab, it was delicious! Steve had a burger from Honorato, which he informed me was also very good.
Before our flight home on the Monday we returned to the Time Out Market to stuff our faces for one last time. We had a couple of hours to kill so started our feast off with some meat and cheese, the ham was locally sourced from Alentejo and the Azeitão sheep’s cheese was deliciously creamy. Then we had a dish of mushrooms, prawns and Portuguese sausage cooked in a tomato, paprika and wine sauce. To finish I had a big bowl of octopus rice which was full of delicious pieces of purple octopus and Steve had duck and asparagus risotto. We were very sad to say goodbye to Lisbon and would definitely love to go back again one day.