A trip to Lisbon! Wine will follow eventually, keep reading, but first thing is first: important information for you tart lovers. You heard it here, the very best Pasteis de Nata are at Manteigaria, where they step outside and ring the bell whenever a new batch is ready. No need to do the tourist trundle to Belem! So thank you chef Leonardo (Pereira) for your kind suggestions! He’s heading back from London to Lisbon from soon and his home city will be the better for it: Portuguese cuisine is sensible and Lisbon is no Barcelona, it reminds you more of Scotland or Norway perhaps where food is fuel and the sea is ever present (nb the amount of sardine paraphernalia in the tourist shops is quite something!!)
And again before we get to wine, some more food and markets: firstly Antiga Casa Maritima across the river on the ferry from Belem (okay so you do have to go there, even if not for the tarts). It was a happily busy lunch in this fishing village with families noisily tucking in; the area is not without its problems as the graffiti and odd spots of dereliction attest, but it is still very pretty and I hazard a guess that it must be a little too busy in the Summer...! Then Taberna du Rua das Flores in Chiardo. Good young folk, good food, small, friendly and greatly enjoyed. Thanks again, Leonardo! For the daily and citizens’ cuisine, go round the corner to Casa da India and be patient if you have to queue.
That scenic fishing village
The market? Well the old market at Cais do Sodre has a new development: the “Time Out” Food Court. Well. Does the word enclave
apply, when you apply it tourists? Have any of you actually seen what Faneuil Hall in Boston, the Grandaddy of them all, has become? This ties in to my thoughts on Smithfield, of which more next time! Anyway we were shown around this place by our old and good friend Miguel Castro e Silva, arguably the first chef to develop something from the existing cuisine in Portugal. He has his restaurant alongside the others and his fish man is just around the corner (and all run by women). It is properly proper. I love a fish market in the morning - and the knowledge that your chum is going to be cooking your lunch!
Oh, and wine at last! Here's a thought: we've seen Picpoul de Pinet usurp Muscadet in France. In Portugal let’s not think of port, or plonk, but instead drink Vinho Verde! It is fresh, clean, with a slight petilance and thoughts of their great seafood. That is a most positive image, it’s the way forward for Portugal I say, and if you want a recommendation:
Quinta do Soalheiro, Alvarinho 2014. (Approx. retail £16-18).
Great varietal character, and a sense of place! Have a look on the first floor - the roof is gone, but the chairs remain!