Last weekend my sister and I went away for the weekend to beautiful Lisbon, Portugal. Aside from the walking through incredible Portuguese architecture, and listening to the soul-moving voice of Sam Smith in concert, one of the absolute highlights of my trip was doing a Secret Food Tour. A number of years back a friend and I were travelling around Vietnam and we did a cooking class and small food tour of Hanoi. This was my first introduction to the world of food tours, and I was hooked.
The tour started in downtown Lisbon under the stunning Arco da Rua Augusta. We joined a group of 5 others plus the tour guide and weaved our way through the street's of downtown Lisbon.
First stop: 10:30am Port or Oporto. We wandered into this large wine shop filled wall to wall with wine bottles old and new. We tried one of the well known brands of Port - Dona Antonia, Reserva Tawny. Now, I'm not much of a wine drinker, but this stuff was amazing, even if it was straight after my breakfast. I managed to score a bottle in Duty Free on the way home for €10. It doesn't get much better than that!
Next up we wandered up to a local cafe, it was much like other local joints we had been past, the decor was minimal but traditional, the menu didn't look like anything fancy and on any other occasion I would have likely walked straight on past it. Luckily this wasn't any other occasion! We were sat down in a table by the window and promptly served with Portuguese Beer and a Piglet Roll. Now I don't know about you but I've never seen on a menu or been served piglet in my entire life. THIS. WAS. DIVINE. I don't know why this isn't bigger, piglet is 100x better than boring old haggard pork. If you see it on the menu, try it! To be honest I was so excited about this heavenly bread that tasted like it had just come out of the oven and this incredible piglet that I completely forgot to drink the beer...you'd understand if you tried it too.
Heading up the hill into one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Lisbon we were surrounded by street art and tiled buildings. We settled in a tiny wee cafe for our third course, one of the most well known aspects of the Portuguese cuisine, Bacalhau.
Bacalhau is dried salted cod, we tried it two different ways while we were in Lisbon, one type appeared more cured and uncooked - think ceviche, and the other was cured and salted but grilled. Definitely something I recommend you try while visiting! If you don't like seafood, or salty things, I can confirm you won't enjoy this. At this cafe we also got a chance to try another well known Portuguese dish - Alheira. Alheira is a traditional pork free sausage, a creation from Portuguese Jews a long long time ago as a way of hiding the fact that they were Jewish by pretending they ate pork. Neither of these dishes came close to the piglet roll, but the bar was set pretty high early on.
Off we went after this to check out a traditional butcher/green grocer where we saw the dried, salted cod on sale and went on to buy a small feast of traditional cheeses and ham to have as an entree to our next meal - octopus salad with a side of cod fish balls and deep fried runner beans. Yes, it was as random as it sounds and other than being unable to mentally eat and enjoy the octopus everything else was delicious.
Dessert time! We were definitely stuffed by now but it would be rude not to take part in the best course of the day. We went to a frutaria and ate fresh strawberries with sour cherry liqueur. After this we went to this divine cream custard tart cafe which was love at first bite for me. Now, I'm not a custard girl, never have been, but this was out of this world delicious. So much so that my sister and I went back later in the day to have more.
Where is it all? Well, that's a secret isn't it. I highly recommend you checking out this food tour for yourself, the tour guide was so friendly and informative and the whole experience was an amazing way to see the city. Check it out here https://www.secretfoodtours.com/
Erin Elizabeth xx