Archive for June, 2011

Which are Portugal’s 7 Best Delicacies?

Monday, June 27th, 2011

7 Maravilhas da Gastronomia

There is a national contest at the moment searching for the seven wonders of Portuguese cuisine. The results will be announced in September and there are currently 21 finalists. That’s three in seven categories: soups, appetizers, shellfish, fish, meat, game and desserts. Of course this is a highly-subjective list, and essentially a popular vote from Portugal’s different regions. Some choices are mouth-watering, others not so appetizing. Countless other dishes could have been included, and those familiar with Portuguese cuisine will note some surprising omissions. But this is a great way to get to know the national gastronomy and to remember the specialties of the different parts of the country.
The final three soups are caldo verde (“green soup”), sopa de pedra (stone soup) and açorda à alentejana (a bread stew).
The appetizers are Serra da Estrela cheese, codfish cakes, and Mirandela sausage.
Shellfish: Ameijoas (clams) à Bolhão Pato, arroz de marisco (shellfish rice), and xarém com conquilhas (mashed corn with cockles).
Fish: Bacalhau (cod) à Gomes de Sá, polvo assado no forno (baked octopus), and the good-old sardinha assada (grilled sardines).
Meat: chanfana (baked goat), leitão da Bairrada (suckling pig), and tripas à moda do Porto (tripe).
Game: coelho do Porto Santo à caçador (rabbit Porto Santo), coelho à caçador (rabbit), and perdiz de Escabeche de Alpedrinha (patridge).
Desserts: pasteis (pastries) de Tontúgal, pastel de Belém (custard tarts), pudim Abade de Priscos (pudding).
You may vote on the official website (in Portuguese): www.7maravilhas.sapo.pt/votacao

A Visit to Lisbon’s Renovated Greenhouse

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

Estufa Fria, Lisbon

Lisbon’s most surprisingly little-visited attractions are its green spaces (parks and gardens), but one you should not miss is the greenhouse of Edward VII Park. It underwent a major 1.8-million-euro renovation in the last two years and reopened just a few weeks ago. One reason why you should not overlook it in your sightseeing itinerary is because your hotel will very likely be located nearby — it’s found right in the center of the city’s main hotel district — but above all, it’s worth a stop for its wonderful collection of plants from all over the world.
You’ll feel transported to a magical wonderland created in 1933 with species from Portugal’s colonies in Asia, Africa and South America (Brazil), while others were brought from diverse locations like Australia, Mexico and Peru.
Although it’s known as “Estufa Fria” (cold greenhouse), it includes a “estufa quente” (hot greenhouse) which feels like a sauna as soon as you enter. It’s home to tropical plants and several cacti, and is perhaps the most fascinating section of the park.
Throughout the entire greenhouse (cold and hot), you’ll also see small ponds, tiny waterfalls and statues dotted around.

Greenhouse, Lisbon

Estufa Fria, Lisbon

Estufa Fria, Lisbon

Lisbon to Become Beachier

Monday, June 13th, 2011

Ribeira, Lisbon

Apparently having beaches just a few minutes away from downtown is not enough for the people of Lisbon. Soon they’ll also have a beach right in the center of the city, by its largest square. By the end of this summer, work will begin to create a real urban beach by the river next to Comercio Square.
This area was in fact a beach in the 16th and 17th centuries, and it was where many of the ships used during Portugal’s Age of Discovery were built and docked. The name comes from that time — “Ribeira das Naus” (the “Ships’ Riverfront”).
This new urban space will cost close to 15 million euros, and will include plenty of shade from a 10-acre park.
Everything is supposed to be ready in just over a year from now, so if it all goes as planned, you can sunbathe by the Tagus at the end of next summer or early autumn.
Next year the Lisbon waterfront will also be in the spotlight during one of the stages of the worldwide 2012 Volvo Ocean Race, happening on the eastern waterfront of the city, where the river becomes the Atlantic.

3 Hotspots For This Summer in Lisbon

Monday, June 6th, 2011

Sommer Restaurant

38º 41′
If it’s a Friday night this summer (until the end of October), head to between the Discoveries Monument and the Tower of Belém. There, on the riverfront, is the Altis Belém Hotel and its bar offering what it calls “Sunset Sessions.” Wine by the glass and champagne is served in the open air by the river to the sound of a DJ, but if you prefer more “summery” drinks, there are also cocktails, shakes and juices.

K Urban Beach
It started out as a summer attraction, but it’s now a year-round destination. However, the glassed walls that cover it up in the winter are opened up in the summer, and it becomes truer to its name. Found right by the river (next to Kais restaurant), this is a beach lounge in the middle of the city, and includes two restaurants (one for sushi and the other for grilled meats).

Rua da Moeda
There are three restaurants next to each other on this small street. Rua da Moeda is found between downtown and the Santos neighborhood, and these three restaurants have now added tables outside, getting ready for the upcoming “Festas de Lisboa.” This annual street festival is in large part an orgy of street barbecues and beer, but you may also go for more refined meals. “Yasmin,” “Sommer” and “La Moneda” all serve contemporary fusion cuisine, and for the non-lunch or non-dinner hours there’s Muv, a bar-lounge-café open throughout the day serving drinks, light meals and music.