Red wine? Baked goods? Confusing language? Toby, why are you in France again??
You’d be forgiven for thinking that (I think) but no, my latest food pilgrimage was to Porto, in Portugal.
Just south of Spain, you’d be forgiven (I hope) for lumping them in with their Iberian cousins, but they very much have their own culture. For example, they actually share a timezone with the good old UK. No jetlag for Tobes then.
He took this trip alone, despite his attempts to drum up interest around the digital workplace in a food sampling holiday. Their loss.
Here’s a few of the delights he sampled in and around Porto.
Arriving the night before, I hadn’t had a chance to sample much of the foodie delights of the city, but woke hungry. Near to my hotel, I noticed that the bakery (Padaria Ribeiro in the trendy Vitoria district) had a cafe attached to it, and so took a seat.
As I peered at the variety of different menus, confused, a kindly Portuguese couple came to my rescue. They told me I’d stumbled upon the best breakfast in Porto, and advised me to get the lanche misto.
This was a sweet pastry with ham and cheese inside. The freshly squeezed orange juice complemented it well. I opened up to the foodie-knights in shining armour explaining I was travelling alone and needed recommendations, but they were sadly on the move and could not help me further. A lovely couple.
Later, I ventured to the world famous port producing district in Vila Nove de Gaia. Sadly, I got there too late for a tour of the cellars, after struggling through the rain. But still, any port in a storm eh?! I tasted some of Taylor’s port. My favourite (on the left) was a 20 year old tawny. “That would probably be quite elderly for an owl!” I quipped, but the lady serving me only smiled blankly. Some things are just lost in translation.
All that port meant one thing, Tobes had drunk himself into a stupor of hungriness!
I was told that I must try a steak “sammy” or “sandwich” while I was there, so I sought out Reitoria, a real steakhouse.
The steak was very well done (by that I mean, cooked well, but not well cooked. It was rare.) in a nice salty foccaccia bread. The waiter picked out a local wine to go well with it – just 3 euros for a tasty glass!
I have two slight reservations about Reitoria:
1. The credit machine refused my card even though I probably have upwards of £200 left in my bank account
2. The portions weren’t huge…
I didn’t fancy any of their desserts so strolled up the road to a gelataria called “Ice Lovers.” I’m not an ice lover, I think it’s dangerous – especially on the roads – but I was tempted in by the sheer variety and colour of the flavours available.
I went for the raspberry cheesecake and caramel, with hot chocolate sauce added to the top, the equivelant of salt and grit on the road that is my mouth.
Tapas! Yes, they do it in Portugal too! Unbelievable.
Clerigos caught my eye as I walked past the famous Lello bookstore, and so later I stopped in to have a read of my own, OF THE MENU.
I chose to “check out” (order) three “books” (dishes) for “further reading” (eating.)
The pick of the bunch, for me, were the meat croquettes, with their little beds of mashed potato. I can’t slate the presentation either.
My waiter was called Claudia (pronounced “cloudier”), who had a lovely smile and winked broadly at you as she spoke. She was very patient and helped me choose a beer and dessert to go with them:
These were: the Oktoberfest beer from Super Bock and the lemon and chocolate “assinhas.” These were basically sweet versions of samosas. A light ending to a complete meal.
I left a glowing review for Claudia on the feedback form. I look forward to the chance of eating here* again.
*This review was changed on 10/11/2015. I corrected “her” to “here.”
Before I left for home. I had a few more hours to pack in some more bite-seeing™ Foodie Boys.
I knew there was something I had to try before I left for blighty, and that was the Francescinha!
Not an obscure Brazilian centre forward, but a delicious sandwich consisting of bread, wet-cured ham, fresh sausage, steak and covered with melted cheese and a hot thick tomato and beer sauce served with french fries. Um, yum anyone?
I was given a hot tip: the best Francescinha in Porto is produced by Bufete Fase.
However, it was really hot that day, and I didn’t want to leave my sunny spot by the river, so decided to get one at one of the many eateries on the riverfront.
I enjoyed the bizarre mixture of meat and carbs; kind of like a wet, bready lasagne, however I feel sure if I’d have followed the actual recommendation it would have been even nicer.
One positive is that I snapped up a pair of brown sunglasses from a seller for the price of just 15 Euros when he originally wanted 25! A great bargain, and nice that he offered a table service as I ate.
With that, I was off to the plane to enjoy a crisp and Pepsi combo for £5.