Monday, 31 August 2015

Lisbon, Day 7, August 31, 2015

The fresh market is closed today. I’m starting to go through withdrawal. Today is museum day.  Lisbon, with a population of a little over half a million not counting the metropolitan area, has over 30 museums. We decided to visit the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, which houses the personal collection of Calouste Sarkis Gulbenkian, an Armenian pioneer of the oil industry. He moved to Portugal during the war in 1942 and died in 1955.  His wish was that his collection, which was assembled over four decades, would be kept together under one roof. His foundation of the same name fulfilled his desire in1969. The museum was a 4.5 km walk uphill. We debated transportation, but in the spirit of discovery and physical challenge, we walked. It was hot and yes, all uphill. 

 Our uphill walk on the right side of the park

The garden at the centre of the park
 The monument at the bottom of the park

We stopped for lunch at a great spot on a side street where we had a terrific lunch.  Jill had slow cooked veal with pasta and I had grilled rabbit with frits. Jill’s veal came first and we realized that we should have spit her dish as there was ample for two. At 8.70 Euros ($13 CDN) per dish, we were surprised at the portion size. 
Veal with pasta

My rabbit, as well as Jill’s veal, was delicious.  We did our best to eat as much as we could knowing that by dinner time we would not be hungry.
Rabbit with frits

 An interesting sculpture at the top of the park

We headed to where we thought the museum was, but had to ask directions.  This was difficult since most do not speak English. One lady said, “go down, then right, then ask again”.  We got similar directions twice before coming to the entrance of the museum.

We got the senior discount (2.50 Euros instead of 5) and also got the audio guide at 4 Euros each, which was great. The collection covers various periods of the history of art, from classical and oriental Antiquity to European art of the early 20th century.  Egyptian, Greco-Roman, Mesopotamian, Eastern Islamic, Armenian and Far Easter Art are all on display. This man was an extreme collector with over 6,000 pieces on display.  
 Silver centrepiece
Silver platter cover

We knew that our walk home would be a lot easier as it would be down hill.  We stuck to the shade and booked it home, which took us about an hour. It was nice to get home after our six hour odyssey.  A big glass of bubbly water and then we opened a bottle of Portuguese vinho verde or green wine.  It has a slightly lower alcohol content, with a bit of effervescence.  It was recommended by the man in the liquor store yesterday and it turned out to be delicious as we cooled down from our walk. 
Lisbon, Day 6, August 30, 2015

No trip to the market today. We saw a medieval castle from where we were yesterday and Jill said she wanted to go there, so that’s what we did.

Yesterday's views of the castle 

It was the highest point in Lisbon and we debated whether to walk or take a cab.  Walking won out because slow takes in the feel of the neighbourhood and the challenge of the climb, and what a climb it was. Once we got to the gates of Castelo de Sao Jorje, we stopped at a small restaurant with tables outside for a small beer (.20 ml) a bowl of soup, fish for me, veggie for Jill, and a cod ball. It was all we needed for lunch. 

Then into the castle we went. We were surprised that a fog had come up the river and the blue sky was blotted out. The coolness of the altitude was so refreshing after our climb but still hot. The views were spectacular.

You can see the square where we walked from

 Views from the castle

The castle was built by the Moors in the 11th century. We spent our time walking the walls and taking in the spectacular views. Lots of stairs and wondering how many had died on them when the Moors were defeated by the first King of Portugal and the Crusaders.  

Back down was much easier. We stopped at a large store that sold port. Had a tasting and bought a half bottle of ten year old port which was yummy. We opted to not go out for dinner and picked up some chicken breast and a red pepper. I already had chorizo, shitake mushrooms, garlic, parsley, white wine, and olives to add to the chicken for our dinner at home. I melted some sugar in water, a little port, and two figs for a fab dessert. I've never done this before, but will surely do it again if I can get figs this fresh.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Lisbon, Day 5, August 29, 2015

They say today is going to be 33 degrees, the hottest it has been since we arrived. I made my usual trip to the fresh market to get razor clams, which I have wanted to try for a long time. From what I have heard, they are as sweet as scallops, but just a bit tougher. I found a vendor who had a one kilo pack for 10 Euros. I didn’t want that many, but that’s the way they were packaged.  Whenever I have seen them offered, they were very expensive, so this was a relatively inexpensive way to try something new.  I must say that everyone in the market was so patient and kind, even though we could not communicate.  

 One of the many fish stalls

Lots were very busy filling restaurant orders from lists, but were happy to help me as best they could, especially with the money.  I am greeted by those who see me every day; lovely people indeed.  The shiitake mushrooms were some of the best I have ever seen so, of course, I had to buy some for a later dish. I also bought four Brown Turkey figs, a bargain at .83 Euros. 

Jill and I decided to explore the Bairro Alto neighbourhood today.  Again it was a steep climb with a few funiculars for those looking for a quick trip up or down. 

No spaces are wasted

The views of the city were fabulous.

I have not had any sugar since we left home. I usually have a spoon in my large cup of espresso in the morning and several pieces of chocolate at night.  We are not dessert eaters unless it’s a special occasion. Vanilla ice cream cannot be in the house for long.  Since Monday, I have passed dozens of pastry shops which always display Portuguese tarts in the window, my absolute weakness.  Today was my day to finally indulge in just one, still a big measure of self control since they are cheaper if you buy six.  I slipped into sugar heaven with the first bite.  The multi-layered crust is so good and the sweet custard with a bit of dark caramelization on top is indescribably delicious.  It ticked all the boxes with my self control intact.

On the way home, we stopped at the supermercado and saw that a six-pack of Heineken beer was on special for 3.89 Euros ($5.75 CDN).  Back home they sell for $13.85. Loving the cheaper prices.

Jill captured on video tonight's pasta with razor clam dinner for an episode of Shoestring Gourmet in Lisbon, Portugal. Coming soon to your community Cogeco channel in Ontario. And yes, it was delish.

Lisbon, Day 4, August 28, 2015

Today will be a beach day, but first to the market. I was looking for a Pargo also known as Red Bream.  I could not find one that would be ideal for two, so I settled for the smallest I could find, a 1.2 kg Pargo for 15.5 Euro ($23 CDN).

The train station is just a few minutes walk and cost us 9.6 Euros return.  We boarded the train and waited and waited past the departure time then all of a sudden some people were leaving the train and running.  Then there was a mass exodus.  Not knowing why, we joined the masses that boarded another train a few tracks over.  Announcements were not in English. The 40 minute trip took us along the shore of the Tagus River to the Atlantic.  We got off 3.5 km before the end of the line at Estoril and walked along the boardwalk to Cascais with heaps of eateries along the way. 

It was a beautiful sunny day as we passed lots of beaches and perused menus deciding on what was for lunch. 

Crazy marble and basalt mosaic footpaths

 Cascais was a quaint little town with some huge houses 

Wine bottle glass sunk in the concrete to keep the riffraff out 

We looked for a busy restaurant to ensure freshness and were pleased with the choice.  Jill had a hamburger with a fried egg on top.  She proclaimed it to be one of the best she has ever eaten.  Perhaps it was the bacon which was minced into the patty.  I had grilled squid, one of my go-to meals if it is on the menu.

We ventured into the water up to our knees and it was very cold - a surprise, so we laid out our towels and had a quick nap while catching some sun.  We headed back to the train station to catch the 3:40 train home. We were early and stopped in a small cafĂ© by the station and had two small .20 ml beers, a bargain at 1 Euro each ($1.50 CDN).
The look of satisfaction

On our way home we picked up two bottles of white wine, four rolls of paper towels, serviettes, a lire of sparkling water for a total of 6.20 Euros (9.50 CDN).  Seems the more we drink, the more we save.

Dinner was delish.  The Pargo was a tasty mild fish with a slightly denser texture that the Sea Bass. We only ate half reserving the rest for a fish salad lunch with the avocado which was now ripe.