I was day-dreaming of Portugal yesterday, not just because I’m pretending these Siberian winds aren’t blowing over Yongin, but also because of the food. I’ve been trying a lot of new dishes since I arrived in South Korea, from grilled eel to bibimbap and samgyeopsal. Some meals have been tasty while others have been merely filling and won’t be repeated. That got me thinking about the best meal I have ever had – it was in Lisbon.
I spotted a small restaurant on my way to the Basílica da Estrela. The simple exterior didn’t speak the establishment’s praises, the tables were empty, and aside from locals popping in for a pastry or a parcel to go, I was the only person dining in.
There were no enticing food descriptions on the menu; no ‘glazed scallops wrapped in pancetta drizzled in a bittersweet rosemary and raspberry sauce’. None of that, just the basics. Having had my fill of bacalhau (one of the country’s specialties) the previous day, I opted for salmon and ordered it in my best Portuguese, which really consists of a whole lot of Spanish masquerading in a Portuguese accent.
What I got for lunch that day was so delicious that I still think about it nine months later! The fish: fresh salmon cooked to perfection, graciously sprinkled with sea salt, and garnished with a slice of lemon. No knife required because it was melting onto my fork! The side: boiled potatoes, carrots and cabbage, so rich in their natural flavours that all that was needed to enhance these was a light drizzle of olive oil. I could not put the fork down the whole time I was there, and thus my best meal to date was devoured far too quickly.
What has been your best meal? Where did you eat it?