I hope everyone had a healthy and happy Thanksgiving. Will and I just returned from Portugal and Spain in honor of meeting my brother for the holiday while he studies abroad in Europe. We had a memorable trip without any hiccups, as long as you don't count creating a tsunami while showering without a shower curtain. Will even managed to avoid dealing with pick-pocketer woes, something we were sure could be in the cards. Together we ate our way through the two countries, feasting our eyes on picturesque water views, detailed architecture, and geometric tiles patterns that seemed to be everywhere.
In Portugal, we visited the seaside towns of Estoril and Cascais; the magical hillside village of Sintra, and the romantic city of Lisbon. We tasted rich olive oils (dare I say maybe on par with Italy?), sipped (more like guzzled) bright, young green wines from Vinho Verde and richer, deep wines from the Douro, and consumed so much seafood such as cod and tuna as well the signature custard desserts from many a pastelaria.
The restaurant scene in Portugal is diverse. In the marina in Cascais, we dined at a modern seafood restaurant boasting excellent service called Hemingway, here we ate dishes like scallop ceviche, seared tuna with sweet potato chips, and poached black cod over a chickpea puree. They also boast a great wine list.
In Sintra we tried more local food at Apeadeiro, where we fell in love with their garlic grilled shrimps.
And in Lisbon, the scene is very diverse. We went to a few of famed chef Jose Avillez's restaurants including Cantinho do Avillez and Mini Bar, and then to a darling little spot called Taberna Rua Flores, which was highly recommended. We stumbled upon Xapuri Bistro, a Portuguese tapas restaurant that was delightful as well.
One experience not to be missed is getting a reservation at BA Wine Bar do Bairro Alto, where you work one-on-one with the wine owner on the types and styles you like. You usually taste two bottles and then decide which glass you prefer. Make sure to order the local cheese board, which is fantastic. We also got a reservation at Cervejaria Ramiro, a strictly seafood restaurant, which you order your crab or lobster, and the waiter reaches behind you and pulls the crustacean from a tank. It's fun to people watch and a little expensive, but definitely worth a visit.
If you're thinking about Lisbon, please let me know as I have a few other recommendations-what a great city!