The Food of Portugal

I am a foodie.
Initially I was confused as to how people gain weight while traveling. But, after Portugal, I now understand.
First of all, it is all about pastries in Portugal! Each region and each city seems to have a pastry that they are known for. Now, eating a treat now and then is okay, but as a traveler you have to eat a treat everyday, sometimes twice! Sure, some people would be okay if they didn’t try a Pastel de Nata from the famous Pastéis de Belém, but not me! Oh no, for me food is the culture of a country.

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So, I’ve compiled a list of my top five favourite meals/pastries I had in Portugal.
Top Favourite dishes in Portugal
1. Pastel de Nata (pictured above) specifically from Pastéis de Belém.
2. Acorda de Marisco
I had this at the restaurant down a few doors from ‘Super Mario’ (refer to the bottom of this post). I didn’t take a picture of my own meal, but what it is is a bread paste with garlic and coriander and shrimp and then they put a raw egg on top and mix it in the warm mixture. No, it doesn’t sound or look appetizing but I loved it! It is popular in the Alentejo region of Portugal.

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3. Nahnahbah – Veggie Burger
No, this isn’t a traditional Portuguese meal, but this particular restaurant is known for having a burger rated in the top 50 in the world.

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The Toucan Burger is it’s name and my fellow traveler’s all raved about the taste! But, if you are a vegetarian, their veggie burger is definitely in the top 10 for me. It tastes like a burger, which is perfect when you are trying to cure a hangover and prepare yourself for drinking again.
You can find Nahnahbah in Lagos.
4. Olives.
Seriously, the olives in Portugal are tastier than anywhere else! My advice: plan a picnic ( or 5) and buy olives, cheese some crackers/bread and fruit and you have yourself a meal! Top it off with a cheap bottle of regional wine and honestly with a great view you’ll remember it as your best meal in Portugal.

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5. Espresso
The coffee in Portugal is some of the best (and cheapest) in the world. Every cafe, no matter how small, has the best espresso equipment money can buy. Combine that with delicious beans and an old man who has been serving ‘bica’ for many generations and you will swear you’ve never had anything so satisfying. End a meal with an espresso or be a local and stop in at the many pastry shops and stand at the bar and enjoy a bica for only 60 cents.

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6. Roasted Chestnuts

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Yummy! For only 2 euro you can have a tasty dessert that even the locals eat!
7. Encharcada do Convento de Santa Clara

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So sweet. So fattening. So delicious! Egg yolk and sugar.
8. Noori Sushi
Sherry showed me this gem during my last day! A small take-away or eat-in sushi place. I disliked the all-you-can-eat sushi, so I was happy to pay extra for good sushi. Also vegan and vegetarian options are clearly marked! The vegetable tempura roll was AMAZING!
9. Lost In Restaurant
Amazing views, awesome food and delicious wine. This is a MUST! Check out this post for more info. Try the pumpkin butter, goat-cheese tartlets and the soup of the day.

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10. Nakite – Porto
My favourite meal, and possibly healthiest, was a tofu pizza from Nakite. Their menu looked awesome and their tea was also tasty. As a vegetarian I highly recommend this and the vegetarian restaurant in Guimaraes.

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How hungry are you right now? I’m starving!!

Road Trip Day Three: West to the Surf

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Check out Day One and Day Two of this amazing last-minute road trip! The last day of our trip was a bit different. We read about a beach that was hidden down a dirt-road just outside of the town Raposeira, … Continue reading

Road Trip Day Two: Picnic at Marinha

After an amazing first day (click here for that post), we woke up Thursday ready to explore Lagos and other beaches in the Algarve.
First, Mama of the Rising Cock made us an amazing crepe breakfast with her ‘magic drink’. Just say ‘tika tika tika’ and remember: “No plate, no crepe!”.

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Feeling re-charged we headed to the ‘awesome’ beach that Nick of the Gspot told us about. Of course, it was located down a very rough looking road and there were signs all over saying ‘danger’ but we were told it was a place most tourists didn’t frequent.

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Look very picturesque?
Wait for it…

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Yes, I have used instagram on some of these photos but it really was amazing!

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From there we headed one more beach over which had a cafe where we sat and enjoyed an espresso on the beach, looking at the ocean.
We made a game plan to grab some food and have a picnic at the next beach. It had been raining but the clouds were dissipating so we had high hopes. A trip to Spar and we bought ourselves a hearty lunch for only 4 euro each! Wine, meat, cheese, bread, olives, plates, cups, carrots, apples, plums and cucumber were all on the menu.
We drove about 45 minutes east and followed the signs to Marinha beach.

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At this beach we found a cave! We walked through it and at the end were crashing waves!

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We sat and ate our lunch on the steps of a cafe on the beach and chatted. Written down it doesn’t seem like something out of the ordinary, but in that moment I felt like the luckiest girl in the world.
Sadly Natalie had to leave to go back to work (at the Gspot), so we drove over to Albufeira, a town another 20 minutes east from the beach.
It felt like I was in a resort in Mexico. I hated it. We all hated it. Words cannot really describe the negative energy we all felt while we were there.

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I will not tell you to not go, but I definitely will not recommend it.
Stay-tuned for Day Three: West to the Surf.

Road Trip Day One: Lagos, Portugal

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Welcome to Lagos, Portugal in the Algarve (south).
Stunning beaches, crashing waves, surfing towns and amazing scenery await.

I had talked about renting a car in Portugal well before I left for my trip, but once here it seemed a bit daunting. But, after meeting a few groups who had rented a car I realized that maybe it wouldn’t be that difficult.

I got online and reserved a small car through Europcar for about 40 euro a day. Finding people to come with me was fairly easy, and the next day four of us started our amazing journey.

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Alan, me, Natalie and Jochen; an Australian, a Canadian, a Londoner and a German.

We got ourselves a tiny Fiat Panda. The horsepower in this baby was…non-existent. But, that was okay since I didn’t really have to worry about my speed when passing cops since the car could barely make it to 130 KM/H (speed limit is 120).

We drove right down to Lagos since we wanted to see the sunset from a viewpoint Nick (Gspot hostel owner) recommended to us. It was only a 3 hour drive down on the A22–but be aware there are tolls to pay!

We got to Lagos and checked-in to the Rising Cock hostel and took a walk to the lighthouse.

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We took this teeny-tiny path to walk out onto the cliffs and were pleasantly surprised with an amazing view. And, we made it just in time for the sunset.

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We sat on the cliffs, drinking wine and chatting and it was in this moment that I realized this was a memory I was going to cherish forever. That time I took a road trip with 3 strangers to the coast of Portugal and sat on the cliffs during sunset with a few bottles of wine.

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Next we headed to the famous Nah Nah Bah.
It has been voted as one of the top 50 Burger Joints in the world!
The most famous is the Toucan Burger which a few of my fellow travel mates ordered, while Alan ordered the Luis Figos Wet Dream chicken burger and I ordered the Veg burger topped like the Blue Ball Buster.

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Oh yeah! We also ordered a starter of Nachos which were amazing (I haven’t had any since in Europe). Jochen ordered their famous drink, the Bottom Line.

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Needless to say we were extremely full after dinner and quickly fell asleep at the hostel. Stay-tuned for Day Two: Picnic at Marinha.

Castles, caves and palaces in Sintra,Portugal

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I am so sorry for being MIA! I woke up this morning and only then realized that I haven’t posted anything in 4 days!! Welcome to Sintra, Portugal! While in Lisbon there are a few day-trips I would recommend: Belem … Continue reading

Rainy day in Porto, Portugal

I decided a while ago that I wanted to go to Porto. The TBU conference was held here this year, and after reading many positive reviews I knew I would probably love it.
Unfortunately, many people in Lisbon looked at me like I was crazy when I sai I wanted to spend 3 days there. ‘You’ll be bored after two’ was the common response.
I refused to be discouraged.
I took an evening train from Lisbon (30 euro, a bus is 19 euro and has wifi) and got into Porto around 10 o’clock. It was dark and it was raining. Considering I have seen very little rain so far during my trip, I was a bit disappointed. Then, I had a hard time figuring out the transit system.
I felt lost. I had also just left some of the most amazing friends in Lisbon, so I was feeling lonely. But, I refuse to have another massive cell-phone bill (read more about that here).
I found my way to The Spot Hostel in about an hour, but only after arriving at the quietest metro ever! I was petrified!

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I got a good nights rest, and woke up the next day determined to explore no matter what the weather.
First, I had to go buy shoes. I left my hikers in Lisbon as I only brought a small bag for this portion of my trip. Silly girl. That’s okay though, I needed to buy more regular looking shoes anyway. I ended up buying a 25 euro pair of casual sneakers, an 8 euro umbrella, and 5 pairs of socks for 7 euro. Not too bad!
Then, I headed to the famous Majestic Cafe on Rue Santa Catarina.

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It has been open since 1923, not having changed it’s interior since then. It was truly beautiful, and a nice break from the rain.
But, be warned, it is expensive! I had already been wandering around though, and needed a small bite too since the hostel served ham and cheese and bread for breakfast (fail!).
I decided to treat myself to an American style coffee and some scones with cream and jam. Healthy? Nope. But it was the least expensive thing on the menu.
Oh my, was it ever delicious. The scones were served hot, the jam came in a small glass jar, and the cream was so sweet. Heaven.

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After, I headed a street over to the Marcado do Bolhão. It was what I expected: butchers, fresh fish stands, fruits and veggies and flower shops.

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And then a pleasant surprise: a store selling vegan/vegetarian food! I have been pleasantly surprised in Portugal with all of the vegan alternatives and how readily available they are!

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Armed with my umbrella, new shoes and a full stomach, I headed back to the hostel to pick up Andy (met him at Gspot he came along to Porto). We decided to head out and explore and grab some food. Thankfully the rain let up so despite the lack of sun it was warm and we were dry.
We saw some sights and got lost in the smaller streets of Porto. We walked by a restaurant and the woman saw us looking at the menu and invited us in. She was so pleasant! I had bacalhaul braga and it was excellent! It doesn’t look like much much believe me it was yummy!

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For a glass of wine, my meal, some starter codfish thing (?) and a coffee I paid 8 euro! Not bad!
Next we just wandered down to the water front and took some photos. I wandered into a touristy port/olive shop and was very tempted to make a purchase! But I’m going to wait for the port tasting.

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So far, I’m really enjoying Porto. The weather obviously makes it a bit more difficult to enjoy it, but so far I love the alternativeness of it. It’s less touristy, and I’m excited to visit the rua Miguel Bombarda area! Art galleries, cafes and book stores!
For those of you who know Alberta at all, Lisbon is the Calgary of Portugal, while Porto is like Edmonton. I think Porto is best appreciated over time, when you’ve had a chance to find the quirky cafes and hidden gems.

Adventures in Lisboa with the Gspot Family

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Hello friends and family!! Remember how I said I loved Lisbon? Well, it’s official, I think Lisbon, Portugal and I are meant to be together. It’s head-over-heals infatuation! We tried to head to Peniche for the surf competition a few … Continue reading