First, we’re moving to the seaside! New-old house 600 mt away from the shore, in the Ría de Arousa. Large house, large garden – if you can call “garden” 3000 square meters of wild land. So, lots of digging and raking and cutting and planting is going on at the moment, and no Internet (yet).
Second, in between the gardening duty we had to squeeze in two work trips to Medina del Campo (Valladolid) and Lisbon. What a hard life we have.
So, Lisbon. It’s the third year we’re invited to assist to Peixe em Lisboa, and every year I enjoy it more than the previous one. I like to call it a non-congress, or maybe it’s what congresses should be like.
The main stage is the Patio da Galè, a large, elegant, square patio; at the borders, ten restaurants set up their kitchens and offer petiscos (Portuguese for tapa) for 5€, 8€ or 12€. You can pick up one dish here, one dish there, and eat it at your table. Oh, and don’t forget to get a glass of Moscatel (wine goes for 1,5€, 3€, 4,5€ or 6€ per glass). Water and coffee are free – which tells you how civilised this country is.
Peixe em Lisboa is organised by the Tourism City Council, so they’re very happy to have you at the congress but even happier to have you roam around the city. And there’s nothing we do better than roam around cities.
This year we went back to our favourite coffee kiosc in Principe Real. A tiny little iron kiosc with just enough room inside for one man (the coffee man) who is constantly preparing bicas (espresso) and offering pasteis de nata. It’s all very fast and casual and GOOD. Don’t bother with milk, go for a straight espresso. Even if it’s in a paper cup, it still tastes delicious, and it hardly needs any sugar. And only for 0,65€! While coffee in Galicia is quite good, especially compared to the rest of Spain, in Portugal is a true religion, similar only to Italy. And it’s so good, and so cheap, that I actually have to restrain myself to get a coffeine overdose.
Pastel de nata is a must-eat, and possibly many times a day. We had some good ones for breakfast at the hotel (LX Boutique Hotel, quite nice and beautifully located) but you can have them at ANY café around the city.
New tastes at the congress this year: Pè de burro (“donkey foot” a.k.a. Venus Verrucosa a.k.a. Warty Venus), eaten nearly raw as it is. You see some of these shells on Galician beaches but apparently they’re not caught nor sold nor eaten. A pity, because it had a very interesting texture: rougher than a clam, bigger than a cockle, still very fresh and sort of crunchy. Delicious!
New shop: Loja das Conservas, The Tins Shop. All the mayor producers of tinned fish – a classic Portugues staple – can be found in this shop close to Cais do Cadré, on Rua do Arsenal, 130. Prices go from 1,50€ to 10€ and you can make your own selection for 30€ in a nice wooden box. I don’t care about packaging if what’s inside is good, but here you get a win-win combo, great content and great packaging!
New restaurant: Assinatura is not exactly new in the Lisbon scene but it was our first time. We had lunch with the owner, Nuno Leitâo, who introduced us to the new chef, Vítor Areias, who was juggling tyhe stand at Peixe em Lisboa and the restaurant. I was actually moved by the dessert they prepared especially for us – “This is a dessert for Spaniards, it’s not too sweet. Portuguese would expect something much sweeter!”. I don’t know about Spaniards, but I loved the sweet and savoury celeriac cream with herbs and jellified salsify.