Archive for February 20th, 2010

20th February
2010
written by spd
(img: Sean Patrick Doyle)

(img: Sean Patrick Doyle)

The Castelo affords the best views in all of Lisbon.  After spending a week gazing up at it, David and I finally made the trek up the hill, through the Alfama, to the shaded courtyards and fortified walls.  Nowhere else is the history of this city so palpable…. from the Moors in the 9th Century to the crusaders of the 12th Century, these grounds were central to Lisbon life for over a thousand years.  The walls protected kings, housed prisoners, you name it.  And the view, of course, is breathtaking!

This entry concludes our adventures in Lisbon.  Although not featured with individual entries, David and I also had lovely meals at the pricey Conventual, the chic Sacramento de Chiado, and the airy Restaurante Mercado de Santa Clara (mentioned in Frances Mays’ A Year in the World).  I still have to post updates from three days in Madrid that followed, and I fear I’m terribly behind!  But stay tuned, because these past few weeks in New York have been wonderful (and delicious!), with trips to Le Cirque, Mercer Kitchen, and the crown jewel… Per Se!

20th February
2010
written by spd
(img: Sean Patrick Doyle)

(img: Sean Patrick Doyle)

The common denominator in every Portuguese meal we had was, strangely enough… custard! Pastelerías occupied every corner, and round the clock, we found ourselves sinking our teeth into the most incredible custard-filled pastries. In the morning as a vehicle for our bicas (espressos), as a late afternoon pick-me-up, as a post-dinner dessert. I became particularly addicted to the delicias ovos (layers of puff pastry sandwiching a mixture of sugar and egg yolk) at Pasteleria Suica in Rossio square, and David made a habit of trying a new pastry at each sitting. None, however, compared to the now world famous Pastéis de Nata at Pastéis de Belém. I suppose they should hold the title, and enjoy the deserved hype… This was the first place that the pastries were sold in 1837, shortly after the Monesteiro dos Jeronimos closed. The monks, left to their own devices to make a living, decided to sell the pastries that they had been making for years, for a profit. All of the recipes created by these Portuguese monks revolved heavily around the egg yolk, as whites were used in large quantities to starch clothes and (if you can believe it) to make wine, such as Port. They managed to find a very delicious solution to the overabundance of yolks! Shops all over Lisbon attempt to recreate the recipe, and all are delicious (though we were disappointed by those at the renowned – and beautiful! – Confetaria Nacional in the Baixa), but none have as creamy a custard, or as flaky a shell. Sprinkle the still warm pastry with powdered sugar and cinnamon and your sweet tooth will be chattering for more and more…