A Little Portuguese Flavour

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.

A simple yet delightful Portuguese meal

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.

Arco-Praça-do-Comércio-Panorama-Lisboa

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.

Alfama, Lisboa

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?

13 Comments

  • makedospend says:

    I never have much luck in Stumbling across good restaurants accidentally, but you have inspired me to keep searching!
    Great photography,
    E

  • Alison says:

    Looks like a beautiful meal. Sometimes simple meals with fresh ingredients are the best. My favourite meal (from the top of my head) was a paella in Cornwall, England. It tasted so fresh because the seafood was ‘catch of the day’.

  • mythoughtstotheworld says:

    I have found that the food in the province of Quebec, Canada is out of this world! Every place I went to eat when I was on vacation there had out of this world food! The French are known for having very good food! The food standards in the rest of Canada are very high, but the standards in Quebec are out of this world! My blog is http://mythoughtstotheworld.wordpress.com/

  • Stephanie - The Travel Chica says:

    I had a melt-in-your mouth salmon dish in Valdivia, Chile in one of those nondescript cheap market restaurants. I will probably still be thinking about it years from now too 🙂

  • Nomadic Samuel says:

    A wonderfully simple meal is often the best. When I was in Shanghai I found this hole in the wall humble little dumpling shop in a back alley not far from the hostel I was staying at. The food wasn’t spectacular but the place had so much character, including a dog that would curl up beside my chair as I slurped away. Sometimes it’s the minute details that create lasting impressions.

  • Zhu says:

    There is a Korean restaurant in Ottawa that advertises bibimbap (I think it’s that anyway) as “Korean sushi”. I have no idea what it looks like or tastes like… can you explain if you get a chance?

    I’m a curious foodie!

    I love Portuguese food but it’s hard to find here.

    • thatbackpacker says:

      Oh the sushi is kimbap! 😀 I’ve had it a few times, it’s so good. You can get it with beef or tuna, and it also has carrots, cucumbers, radishes, and a bunch of other fillings that I haven’t quite figured out.

      Bibimbap is a rice dish with some kind of meat, vegetables, and it’s usually topped off with an egg. Also very tasty!

  • Anthony says:

    Great write-up; and terrific photos! Yours?

    I thought long and hard about my “best meal” and when + where I enjoyed it — I keep remembering back to Chef’s Studio Japan [Canmore, AB]. The word ‘transcendental’
    is not one I throw around a lot, but the meal [sushi] was something sublime. And so imaginative!

    Keep writing.

  • Sheryll says:

    I had a very similar meal when I was in Lisbon, and I totally agree with this whole post. The fish there is out of this world!!!

  • LozinTransit says:

    I don’t have the best taste buds, I find I’m an experiential person. My best meals have been a combination of good food, great company and unique ambience. Funnily enough the most memorable have been in Portugal –
    An Underground Restaurant in Sintra, traditional homecooked Brazilian in Porto and some crafty cooking on the road

  • Andrew Wolfe says:

    I can’t remember the name of the restaurant but the tour guide on my free walking tour suggested a place. Around 5 of us showed up to this local off the main street place with this nice old Portugese lady who spoke no english and we had a delicious meal which include salad, bread, fish/meat, dessert and a glass of wine for only 5 euros.

    Also to not be forgetten is trying the amazing Portugese custards with an expresso on the side.

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