Tuesday 12 September 2017

On the road to Portugal - part 1

It’s been a long and well-deserved holiday but I am happy to be back to share with you some highlights of my trip to Portugal. This is a country that connects me to my Brazilian roots – not only because of our history, the beautiful Portuguese architecture and beaches, but also the gastronomy. My family and I go back whenever we can.
In the last three years Portugal has become a hot destination. It's safe, has great food and is relatively cheap. A year ago, I would have said its very cheap to travel around the country but thanks to the influx of tourists from all over, the prices have shot up. Having said that, it still is one of the most affordable holidays in Europe.
The food there is delicious. I must say that vegetarians and vegans will suffer a bit. The Portuguese indulge in meat (black pork, chicken piri-piri, lamb, beef) and seafood (cod, sardines, prawns, clams etc). Their menus are a bit biased towards the protein side. Paleos would be in heaven.
My family and I started our trip in Lisbon, then travelled to Setúbal . Once there, we explored the beaches nearby but settled mostly at Costa de Caparica. In a quaint square in Setúbal, we had fresh grilled fish caught on the day. The best sardines!
The market in Setúbal (see photo above) is spectacular! It's really worth a visit.
From Setúbal, we went to Alentejo where we explored the wine and olive oil region. As much as we love the area, I wouldn’t recommend it in the peak of Summer. It is scorching hot.
In the next couple of weeks, I will be sharing with you two of the simplest and most popular Portuguese traditional dishes.
At the end of this post, I list some of the restaurants I recommend in Lisbon.
Back in my kitchen

Today let’s have piri-piri chicken (frango piri-piri), which became one of our favourite budget meals. The method I am applying here was explained to me by the chef in one of the restaurants in Lisbon that was a lucky find. He showed me how to make a quick, fresh blend of the piri piri sauce. It’s great in its simplicity. No wonder piri-piri chicken (in its various versions) spread like wild fire in the streets of London.

The ingredients.
The sauce. 
Piri piri sauce


4 bird eye chillies - seedless
3-4 red chillies - seedless
1 scoth bonnet – optional, if you want it to be extra-hot - seedless
3 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
Olive oil – about 100-150 ml just to cover the ingredients inside the blender
Juice of half lemon


Blend all the ingredients. Reserve.

The spatchcock chicken plus sea-salt.
Grill the chicken skin side down for 5 minutes...
...then turn over and grill for 5 more minutes.
The seasoned chicken before going into the oven.
My piri piri chicken.

The roasted chicken
Serves 4-6


1 organic chicken (about 1.6kg), spatchcock – you can ask your butcher to do it for you. Or 1-2 poussins


Pre-heat the oven to 190 ° C degrees.

Place the chicken in the grill skin side down, for about 5 minutes each side. In a roasting tray, scatter sea-salt and drizzle some olive oil on top. Transfer the chicken to the tray, skin side down, and season it with sea salt. Brush the piri piri sauce on this side of the chicken. Turn it over and repeat with salt and sauce. Now leave the chicken skin side up and roast in the oven for 60-75 minutes. When done, squeeze fresh lime juice and scatter some fresh coriander on top. Serve with roasted vegetables and salad leaves.

A healthy note: Chilli (Capsicum annum, C. frutescens ) contains a compound called capsaicin – this is what gives its spicy and pungent character. Capsaicin is well known in scientific research as a pain reliever and digestive aid, which also has cardiovascular benefits. Capsaicin has the ability to lower blood temperature (it may induce perspiration in cases of fever). It contains very good levels of vitamin A and C. Chilli is a great source of iron and potassium. Warning: For people suffering from GER & GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), chillies can aggravate the symptoms.

Places to eat in Lisbon

Cantinho do Avillez - It’s the relaxed version of José Avillez two star Michelin Belcanto. Lovely atmosphere. The scallops and the berry cheesecake were  to die for. Rua dos Duques de Bragança 7, 1200-162, Lisbon. Tel: +351 211 992 369. www.cantinhodoavillez.pt/cantinho-lisbon
Taberna do Sal Grosso – Clam rice delight.  Calçada do Forte 22, 1100-397, Lisboa. Make sure you book before turning up, the place is always fully booked. Also, the best way to book is through Facebook, as they hardly answer the phone. www.facebook.com/tabernaSalGrosso
O Churrasco – very tender and juicy barbecue chicken. The restaurant itself doesn't look inviting but give it a try. Rua das Portas de Santo Antão 85, 1150-266, Lisboa. Tel: +351 21 342 3059
Time Out Market/ Mercado da RibeiraHenrique Sá Pessoa – If you are lucky to find an empty seat or table as the place gets overflown by tourists (like myself :-)), try chef Henrique Sá’s mouth-watering pork belly confit with sweet potato mash and greens. Then have a creamy custard tart (pastel de nata) at Manteigaria. Av. 24 de Julho 49, 1200-109 Lisboa. www.timeoutmarket.com

Mercado de Campo de Ourique – A pretty local food market with food stalls selling mostly Portuguese food. A much smaller version of Time Out Market. It is very close to Pastelaria Aloma (below). Rua Coelho da Rocha, 104, 1350, Lisboa. www.facebook.com/mercadodecampodeourique

Pastelaria Aloma – They claim to be the best pastel de nata in Lisboa. I am not sure if it is the best but it is very very good indeed. And the bakery is located in a lovely part of Lisbon.  Rua Francisco Metrass 67, 1350-139, Lisbon. Tel: +351 213 963 797.  www.aloma.pt

Manteigaria Silva - Not really a place to seat down and eat but I had to mention this traditional Portuguese grocery store that sells a variety of produce from the country: wine, cheese, dried cod, fresh produce etc. Rua Dom Antão de Almada, 1 D 1100-197 Lisboa. Tel: +351 21 342 4905

Till next week!

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