food writing

Ejo #94 – Drunk In….. Lisbon

Sometimes the inspiration to write a “Drunk In…..” post hits me long after the fact, when it dawns on me that I’ve got heaps of photos of us being drunken fools in some foreign city.  Other times I just know that a city is going to be excellent “Drunk In…..” material before we even set foot in it.  Lisboans are renowned for their love of eating, drinking and staying up way past their bedtimes.  As you know kids, that’s my kinda town.

 

TIME OUT MARKET (a.k.a. MERCADO DA RIBEIRA) 

So, we got to town, dropped off our bags and hit the street.  No point dilly dallying.  We were staying right around the corner from the Mercado da Ribeira (officially known as the Time Out Market…. blech!).  The market is known as a world-class food hall but we had a fancy dinner booked that night and didn’t want to ruin our appetites.  We were, however, looking for a drink (natch!) and we also just wanted to scope the place.  It was buzzing on a Monday afternoon which is always a good sign.  We grabbed a couple of large glasses of white sangria to ease into the spirit of things and figure out our next move.

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A food hall is a great way to eat a quick bite of really good food.  Time Out Market only includes vendors that rate four or five in their reviews, ensuring the quality stays high.

 

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White sangria is the shizzle!!  Delicious and refreshing and alcoholic.

INFO:
481 Av. 24 de Julho
Sun-Wed: 1000-0000
Thurs-Sat: 1000-0200
CLICK FOR MAP

 

MANTEIGARIA

Unsurprisingly, our next move was a quick recon to find the best pastéis de nata in our ‘hood, Cais do Sodré.  You might recognise these little delights as Portuguese tarts, but don’t you dare call them that in Portugal.  You call them pastéis de nata or you just go home right now.  I have a feeling that some of you might think you know what these things taste like.  I’mma stop you right there.  You don’t know, you just think you know.  Don’t worry about it, we thought we knew, and we didn’t know.  That first bite totally blew our minds.  How on earth could something taste so good?  I’m talking next level.  I won’t tell you how many of these we had during our four days in Lisbon.  Not because I’m embarrassed.  I just lost count.  Let’s say a ludicrously large number.

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Look for this sign to enter pastry heaven.

 

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LOOK AT THEM!!!  THEY’RE STILL WARM!!!!!

 

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O.  M.  F.  G.

INFO:
Rua do Loreto 2,
0800-0000
+351 21 347 1492
CLICK FOR MAP

 

PENSÃO AMOR

Pensão Amor was one of those perfectly serendipitous discoveries that totally begets a “Drunk In…..” post.  We’d been walking around for hours and were in need of a refreshing libation (and also a toilet), when lo and behold there it was, in all its quirky glory.  A lot of cocktail bars don’t open until evening, but the great thing about Pensão Amor is that they appreciate the merits of daytime drinking and, thoughtfully, fling open their doors at 2pm. David ordered cocktails while I went in search of the loo, which ended up being a very small, candle-lit, graffiti-splattered cubicle with a very curious, but delightful, display of Barbie dolls doing unspeakable things to each other to entertain you while you do your business (I did say quirky, right?).

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David’s Pisco Punch (kinda like a Hawaiian Pisco sour – which actually really works) and my Hemingway (yeah, sometimes I can be a classy bitch).

 

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The bar has several rooms – this one is the Wild West saloon style room with a projector showing silent black and white movies of circus freak shows from the 1920s.   Quirky. 

INFO:
Rua Alecrim 19
Sun-Wed: 1400-0300
Thur-Sat: 1400-0400
+351 21 314 3399
CLICK FOR MAP

 

A CEVICHERIA

A Cevicheria is a very fashionable, very well-reviewed ceviche restaurant that doesn’t take reservations (booooo!).  What makes this place so great is that, since they’re making people wait on the street, they’ve opened up a little window on the side from which they serve delicious Pisco sours.  Yay, Pisco sours!!  And you don’t even need to be waiting for a table to get them.  You just roll on up and drink them in the street before carrying on with your business.  Have you ever heard of anything so civilised????

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The shop front, with the Pisco Bar on the right hand side. 

 

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Gotta have limes if you’re making Pisco Sours. 

 

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We’re drinking Piscos, and you’re not. 

INFO:
R. Dom Pedro V 129
1200-0000
+351 21 803 8815
CLICK FOR MAP

 

FADO

Fado is a style of Portuguese music expressive of all the melancholy and malaise the Portuguese have experienced since… well, forever.  The country may now be enjoying an upswing in fortunes and, paradoxically, so is the popularity of this mournful music.  It’s definitely a must-do if you visit Lisbon, and the best place to see it is Alfama.  This neighbourhood is all small, narrow streets and cobblestoned, winding alleys.  Ramshackle houses, cracked and peeling, tumbling onto each other, but somehow still standing.  It’s historic, it’s sorrowful and it’s beautiful.  Just like fado itself.

We’d been told by a local that we “had to go” to Clube de Fado but sadly we arrived too late on a Saturday night (and without a reservation – rookie mistake).  We walked around looking for another reputable fado joint, but they were all full.  Determined, we followed the strains of soulful crooning emanating from an outdoor tasca and made a beeline for it, scoring a table for dinner.  Unlike Clube de Fado, where only professional singers perform, tascas are more an open-mic affair, and during the course of dinner we heard two great performances and one average one.  Next time we’re in Lisbon we’ll make a point of booking a table at Clube de Fado.

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Despite missing out on a professional fado performance, we were all smiles.  Lisbon can do that to you.  Also… wine. 

 

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Even average seafood in Lisbon is good seafood.  But it wasn’t good enough to rave about.  This “Drunk In…..” gig isn’t all unicorns and rainbows, friends.  Sometimes it’s a little hit and miss, but we put in the hard yards – just for you.  You’re welcome.

INFO:
CLICK FOR MAP

 

FABRICA COFFEE ROASTERS

Good coffee is an absolute necessity for “Drunk In…..” shenanigans.  It’s always such a pleasure when we find the perfect coffee place on our travels.  And in Lisbon, that place was Fabrica.  Consistently great coffee with always friendly, smiling service.  Exactly what you need when you’re recovering from a night of revelry.

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Absolutely perfect flat whites – every time. 

INFO:
Rua das Flores 63
0900-1800
+351 21 139 29 48
CLICK FOR MAP

 

TILES BAR

There was one reservation that we’d made in Lisbon that I absolutely didn’t want to miss, and being such eager beavers we turned up half an hour before they even opened.  What to do???  Tsk tsk, if you don’t know by now, you’ll never know.  Obviously we went in search of refreshments, and found them across the street at Tiles Bar in the form of our favourite Portuguese drink, white sangria.  Unfortunately it took them 25 minutes to serve, but they did make it from scratch, and it was yummy, so we couldn’t get too mad.

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The sangria you have when you’re thirty minutes early for your lunch reservation.

INFO:
R. Palma 312
Mon-Thur: 0900-0000
Fri: 0900-0200
Sat: 1100-0200
Sun: 1100-0000
+351 21 138 4724
CLICK FOR MAP

 

CERVEJARIA RAMIRO

After knocking back our sangria, we walked across the road to Cervejaria Ramiro, which by now had a throng of people waiting outside.  We were unsure if we should wait in line or push our way to the front, so we pushed our way to the front and hailed down a waiter to tell him we had a reservation.  Thanks to google we already knew which dishes we just had to have.  Clams Bulhão Pato, tiger prawns, lobster and red river shrimp.  We also knew to leave room for their specialty dessert of prego, otherwise known as a steak sandwich.  Yup, I said steak sandwich for dessert.  Do you see now, why we had to eat here.

During the course of the meal, we became progressively drunker and fell progressively more in love with our wonderful waiter who was everything a waiter should be.  Should I ever find myself in the predicament of having to order a “final meal”, I’d ask for a long, boozy lunch at Cervejaria Ramiro with João serving me seafood until it runs out.

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This is what they bring to the table right after you sit down.  DO NOT EAT THE BREAD!!!  It’s a trap!!!!  Save it for soaking up all the crustacean juices later on.  Trust me. 

 

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Why not beer AND wine?

 

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Clams, glorious clams.  This particular style is called Bulhão Pato, after the 19th century Portuguese poet António de Bulhão Pato who was particularly fond of his shellfish cooked in garlic, white wine and coriander.  I also, am particularly fond of my shellfish cooked that way.  These are exceptionally tasty and my mouth is watering just thinking about them!!!!

 

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Drooooooooool. 

 

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We asked for more lemon.  We got a large, hot serving dish of magnificent bubbling oil, chilli, lemon and garlic.  HOW DID THEY KNOW?????!!!!

 

 

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A steak sandwich?  For dessert??  Oh hell, yes!!!!

 

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When you both fall in love with your waiter, it’s only polite to ask what his name is.  His name was João.

 

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Marry us João!!  

INFO:
Av. Almirante Reis nº1 – H
1200-0030 (Closed on Mondays)
+351 21 885 1024
CLICK FOR MAP

 

A GINJINHA

After such a phenomenal meal, it only makes sense to wrap things up with a wee digestif.  And what better digestif than local delicacy ginjinha, a very tasty liqueur made from Morello cherries, brandy, sugar and cinnamon.  And what better place to get it than the iconic A Ginjinha, which has been serving this liquid deliciousness from a hole in the wall since 1840.  I am in no way ashamed to say we came here for some fortifying ginja several times a day during our visit.  Let me tell you, there’s nothing like joining all the old dudes in flat caps supping cherry liqueur in the middle of the street at 9 o’clock in the morning to make you feel like a local.  There’s usually a bit of a line but they serve very quickly and the only thing you need to tell them is whether you want it with or without the soused cherries.  Hint: get the cherries.

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Look for this sign.  Also, be prepared to wait as there is usually a line.  Luckily for you they pour pretty, pretty, pretty damn quickly – as you can see from the video below.  

 

 

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Cheers!  Oh, and you MUST get it with the cherries.  They pack an extra little punch, if you know what I mean.  

 

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We walked 1km carrying two little cups of ginjinha to the pastry shop just so we could see how good they tasted together.  Surprise, surprise!  If ever there was a more perfect combination than Pastéis de Nata and Ginjinha, I am yet to discover it.  

INFO:
Largo São Domingos 8
0900-2200
+351 21 814 5374
CLICK FOR MAP

 

SOL E PESCA

Did you know that food in a tin is a thing now?  I’m talking about tinned seafood in particular.  Oh, it’s a thing.  Look it up.  No longer the domain of camping cuisine, seafood in a can has been elevated to gourmet status.  Naturally, the hipster restaurants followed.  And so we went to the nautically themed Sol e Pesca to check out for ourselves exactly how this new wave of preserved seafood might differ from what John West has been offering for years.  The answer is: completely different league.  The menu is brought to you attached to a fishing rod (I mentioned the hipsters, right?) and is broken up into different sections: octopus, sardines, tuna, cavala (mackerel – yum!!!), herring etc.  And then within those sections you have all the different available flavours.  Pick the ones you want (with a bit of help from the gorgeous staff, as there is no English menu) and order a jug of white sangria to pass the time while the waiter opens up your cans and presents everything nicely on a plate.  Salut!

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The menu.  

 

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The white sangria. 

 

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The tins. 

 

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The octopus (with lemon and parsley). 

 

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The sardines (with garlic and oregano).

 

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The mackerel (with chilli and thyme). 

INFO:
R. Nova do Carvalho 44
Mon-Wed: 1200-0200
Thur-Sat: 1200-0400
(Closed on Sundays)
+351 21 346 7203
CLICK FOR MAP

 

RESTAURANTE PONTO FINAL

Across the Tagus River in Cacilhas, a little known area of Lisbon, lie a number of abandoned buildings, home to numerous cats and probably a fair share of squatters.  Also in Cacilhas is the wonderfully simple, but excellent restaurant Ponto Final.  This place serves good, honest, home-style cooking.  The menu consists of mostly seafood, as you’d expect, and that’s what we came for.  We were not disappointed.  Make a reservation, or come early like we did and grab a table with a view of the water and of the city of Lisbon shimmering on the other side.  I can’t think of a better way to spend a sunny afternoon.

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The view of Lisbon from Cacilhas.

 

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When you’re offered an aperitif in Portugal, you’d better get Madeira.

 

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A feast for the eyes, the stomach and the soul.  For real.   The simplicity of this food is actually nurturing, comforting.  The wine is pretty nurturing too.

INFO:
R. do Ginjal 72, Almada
1200-2300 (Closed on Tuesdays)
+351 21 276 0743
CLICK FOR MAP

 

Ejo #75 – Drunk In….. Amsterdam 

Being my favourite place in the world, and one of my most frequently visited, I’m sure it’s no surprise to you that I’ve often found myself drunk* in this beautiful, vibrant, culturally stimulating, inviting and fun city. I guess the reason I haven’t written about it before in this series is that I have kind of wanted to keep these hidden gems private. But, in the spirit of sharing and an effort at magnanimity, behold as I lay bare just a few of our favourite corners of Amsterdam (surely you don’t expect me to give up ALL my secrets) places to get tipsy and places best experienced tipsy.

The Seafood Bar

For the last couple of years it’s become a tradition that the first meal we have after arriving in Amsterdam is at The Seafood Bar, located right next to Vondelpark. I can’t remember why or how that happened, but now I simply can’t imagine eating anywhere else on that first day. It’s become one of those things that gets me excited about an upcoming trip.

 

To me, The Seafood Bar = Amsterdam.

 

Bright and lively, it’s a place where you can get some fresh seafood cooked perfectly and served to you by attractive young waitstaff with a smile and a quip. For some reason we always get the same thing. A plate of 16 mixed oysters, fish and chips and a bottle of Ruinart champagne. Any time we’ve tried to stray from that formula we usually spend about 45 minutes trying to pick something else from the menu and then end up ordering the same thing anyway. And it’s not for lack of enticing options. Everything sounds (and looks) delicious. Maybe one of you could try something else from the menu and tell me about it.

 

I don’t eat much bread but I eat this bread. You would too.

 

Invariably, the best oysters are the local Tara’s. Fucking delicious.

 

Light and crisp batter is the signature. Delicious tartar a bonus.

 

Restaurant P. King

One of our favourite places to get a morning-after fry-up is P. King. It’s a pretty ordinary looking café that serves a pretty damn good version of Dutch brekky – ham and fried eggs smothered in melted cheese. We usually get the heart-starter version with added bacon because we’re on holiday and because we’re little piggies. We also like to get a morning after beer (because: see reasons already mentioned).

 

My concession to healthy eating? No bread.

Foam Gallery

I always like to inject a little culture into our drunken trips and on this occasion we visited the edgy Foam Gallery to check out an exhibition on the artist Francesca Woodman who killed herself at the tender young age of 22. Photographs weren’t allowed but I managed to sneak a couple in for you.

She was doing nude self-portraits from the age of thirteen.

 

An exhibition so captivating I wanted to take it home with me..

Foodhallen

I have a theory that any city worth living in has a a foodmarket, a collection of eateries and drinkeries all under one roof where you can spend an entire afternoon grazing and nibbling and sipping and slurping your way through all the stores before stumbling home for a well earned nap. Amsterdam’s version is located just outside the four canal belt but well worth the “trek”. Just like the city itself it is small but perfectly formed and worth exploring every nook and cranny. Below are some of the highlights.

 

Bitterballen are a Dutch staple.

 

More incredible oysters, with Champagne.

 

Spanish style gintonics. Each gin is served with different aromatics.

 

The most delicious cheese toasti in existence. Cheese, onion, leek, spring onion. Perfection.

 

So unnecessary and yet so necessary. Zabaglione canoli.

Screaming Beans

Best coffee in Amsterdam. That is all.

Cappuccino.

 

 

Best espresso I’ve ever had.

 

Cosy café to bunker down in when you get hit by a sudden hailstorm.

Pazzi Slow Food Pizza

It’s all in the name here. You WILL have to wait for a table (there’s only seating for about ten) but it’s well worth it. When you’re seated in the little alcove, bumping shoulders with strangers as you reach for your last slice of pizza and take a sip of your Tuscan red, you’ll feel like you’ve somehow been transported to Italy. Delizioso.


Laurierboom

Amsterdam is littered with old-fashioned pub style drinking holes called bruine cafés, or brown cafés. They are warm, cosy, friendly and usually serve a great variety of beers. They’re not trendy places (nor are they trying to be) and the bar is as likely to be propped up by a small group of elderly gentlemen sharing a joke as it is by a younger couple playing checkers. A brown bar isn’t a place for drunken revelry but more for quiet enjoyment and if that’s what you’re after you are more than welcomed to join in. My favourite is Laurierboom in the Jordaan. We always try to drop in for a game of backgammon and a beer.

A very serious game of backgammon.

 

An even more serious game of chess.

 

* Drunk in this instance suggests to say joyfully inebriated. I don’t really advocate or enjoy the kind of drunk that is sometimes associated with Amsterdam.