Friday, September 30, 2016

Trip to Portugal (Day 3)...Giant Octopus

(September 23)
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In the morning, we enjoyed a tram ride. Lisbon's yellow tram, Line 28 is a public transportation and one of the most popular tourist attractions. It goes through Lisbon's beautiful historic sites and you can feel the city. We walked to the main starting point of the tram and had to wait about 1.5 hours in queue. But, it was totally worth the wait and the ride was a full of fun.

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After the ride, it was already lunch time. We walked to Principe Real neighborhood to visit A Cevicheria, a modern ceviche restaurant by a successful Portuguese chef, Kiko Martins. As soon as we entered the door, we were shocked to see a giant octopus hanging from the wall. So cool! This restaurant's interior is so beautiful with the white tiled walls, marble counter top, and white and blue patterned Portuguese tiles on the floor. We sat at the counter seats and the chefs' action started in front of us.

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Homemade bread, seaweed salt and pate.

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First dish. Green gazpacho and mackerel - mackerel, celery, ginger, tapioca and apple. Really refreshing and nice.

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Second dish was my favorite. It was Portuguese ceviche - cod fish, octopus, mashed chestnuts, chorizo, pine nuts, and hortela da ribeira (type of mint?). Cod was not salted kind but fresh and paired so well with the chestnuts and chorizo.

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Tuna ceviche - tuna, foie gras, lychees, hazel nuts and tiger milk (citrus-based ceviche marinade) with beetroot. Foie gras was shaved to go on the top. Unique combination of the flavors.

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Mixed causa - mashed potato, scallop, truffled egg yolk, crab, guacamole, salmon roe, white fish tartare and nori seaweed. Very unique and very good.

We had a nice lunch!

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Then, we walked a little bit around the area. Principe Real is a very charming neighborhood with a great view of the other side of Lisbon and overlooking the ocean.

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In the afternoon, we had a little bus tour of the city.

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For dinner, we stayed in Bairro Alto neighborhood and decided to check out a little neighborhood restaurant recommended by our apartment's owner, Alex.

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It's called Bota Alta, and they serve traditional rustic Portuguese cuisine there. Alex said it's her to-go spot whenever she has cravings for homey Portuguese dishes. As soon as we sat at the table, cheese, bread, butter, and olives were brought to the table. I love Portuguese cheese so much. They were semi-hard and made from the mixture of goat and sheep milk.

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Hand-cut prosciutto. So meaty.

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Fried squid was very tender.

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Bacalhau real - fried salted cod, topped with sautéed onion and fried potatoes. There was a big fried fillet of cod buried under the onions. Very dynamic and rustic dish and I liked it.

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It was Friday night and the area was very lively. We checked out a local bar to listen to fado, Portuguese folk music. There was a singer and a guitarist with 12-string fado guitar played the music and it was very nice.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Trip to Portugal (Day 2)...Taste of Lisbon All Day

(September 22)

We started our day walking around the neighborhood. Lisbon is a fun lively city.

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For lunch we visited Mercado da Ribeira, which is the oldest market in Lisbon. in 2014, half of the market went through a big renovation and turned into Timeout Market. It's a place where about 50 different vendors including more than 20 popular restaurants in Portugal all gathered and you can dine in or shop around. During lunchtime a huge food court gets packed with people.

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We had such a hard time choosing which place we order lunch from. Everything looked so good.

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I did bacalhau (salted cod) fritters and shrimp rice. Jason did duck confit (duck dishes are also famous in Portugal). Both were so good.

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Then, we took a train to Alcantara-Mar station to visit LX Factory. This compound started as a industrial site for fabric companies back in 1846. Now, it's a complex where artists, creative companies, shops, restaurants, and cafes gather and has become a trendy spot of the city.

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Cool cafe.

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There was even a hip hostel that opened less than one week ago. They gave us a tour of inside of the hostel. They have sleeping pads which remind me of Japanese capsule hotel.

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Very unique bookstore.

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Both outdoor and indoor vendors.

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We had a great time there.

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We got back to our area later in the afternoon. In the same block with our apartment, luckily (or dangerously) Manteigaria, a very popular sweet shop is located. They make only pastel de nata, a type of custard tart, which is considered to be Portugal's national dessert. They are making the tarts non stop in front of you there and you can taste the freshly baked tarts. We were suggested to sprinkle some cinnamon to try them. Wow...they were so delicious! The pie was so flakey and the custard was so creamy inside.

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In the evening, we walked about 15 minutes to a residential neighborhood from our apartment in Bairro Alto to get to Largo ao Tacho. It's a small restaurant serving casual tapas style Portuguese dishes. I loved the interior of the place. It made me feel so cozy like I was welcomed to a friend's house.

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As soon as we got to the table, small starters of aged goat cheese, pork pate, and olives were served. Then, we ordered smoked bacalhau (salted cod) carpaccio and alheira (Portuguese smoked sausage of poultry and game meat) with fried quail eggs. We were so impressed by how high the quality of each dish was. The sausages were so fresh and very tender.

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Morcela (blood sausage/ black pudding) cakes with apple sauce. Rich flavor.

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Prawns and bean stew was so mild and nice. It was served with rice. I felt the dish was inspiring for my donabe cooking!

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Octopus with olive and herbs. It was a whole uncut legs of octopus and so tender. I love how simple the presentation was and the flavor was so nice.

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The place got packed with neighbors later on. We wish this restaurant was in our neighborhood in LA!