I really love Catavino – it’s such an informative and innovative source of information on Spanish & Portuguese wines. The food of the region is key, but it’s just as vital to know about the great wines available too. This is the place to find out!
Jose Pizzaro http://www.josepizarro.com

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The History of the Egg In Portugal: Why Portugese Cuisine Can’t Live Without It

If you ask the Portuguese, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” I would place my bet on the egg. Ovos are found throughout Portuguese cuisine. They’re poached in soups and açordas; fried on top of steaks, alheiras and francesinhas; boiled with fish and mixed into many of their beloved bacalhau dishes; and beaten with sugar and cinnamon in numerous desserts and sweets. Even the Portuguese chicken soup- canja, traditionally includes the boiled yolks of the un-laid eggs still left inside the chicken after its killed! So why does the egg seem to symbolize as much “à portuguesa” as their national anthem in their culture? Where did this love for eggs originate?    This was the question I set out […]

Lisbon is for Lovers: The Perfect Romantic Getaway!

There are several European cities known for their Old-World romance, sprinkled in fairy dust and history. Take a leisurely walk past ancient architecture, beautiful promenades and cozy little cafés humming with live music and you’ll feel transported back in time. And there is no better place to experience this romance than Lisbon! Lisbon is unique for star-crossed lovers because it’s just a short train-ride away from the stunningly beautiful, hilltop city of Sintra. This UNESCO World Heritage site paints the perfect fairytale romance filled with castles, palaces, decadent manor houses with flowery landscaped gardens, and winding cobblestone streets and alleyways that make this city charming. Both Sintra and Lisbon have their fill of beautiful views, delicious sweets and pretty gardens so either […]

Feliz Natal: Traditional Portuguese Holiday Cuisine

Boas Festas!  Happy Holidays from Portugal!  The Christmas season is upon us, and here in Lisbon, we’re celebrating the only way we know how, with delicious homemade food. All major Portuguese holidays have their own unique dishes and sweets, but Christmas is by far the most plentiful among them. From mid November onward, you can peruse any bakery or supermarket to find a host of these one-of-kind desserts. The list of sweets is extensive, but each has their own texture and flavor that is worthy of your attention. To begin with, there are two kinds of Christmas cakes: Bolo Rei (King Cake) and Bola Raina (Queen Cake). King Cake, not to be confused with the Mardi-Gras version, dates back to the time of the […]

Aguardente Bagaçeira: Portugal’s Seriously Strong Wine Spirit

After a fantastic picnic among friends, we gathered at an outdoor café to finish the afternoon with a stiff drink called bagaço. The boys ordered two very full snifters of a crystal clear beverage that I had never heard of, nor did I have to chance to ask just how potent it was before it was passed around to “enjoy” a healthy swig. Erring on the side of caution, I took a tiny sip, but that’s all it took before my eyes popped wide open, and my face clenched and shuddered in pain. I rapidly slammed my fist on the table until the wave of fire passed; and when I came back from the fifth dimension of hell, all that was […]

Alheira: The King of Portuguese Sausage

Alheira is a smoked Portuguese sausage, (pronounced “Al – iyai -rah”), that derives its name from the Portuguese word alho, meaning “garlic”. Different from its pork-dominated counterparts, Alheira is not only filled with poultry (chicken and turkey), but also game meat (duck, rabbit, venison, partridge, pheasant): creating a mouthwatering smokey, garlicky and earthy aroma. Now here comes the interesting part, hold tight! The original Alheira was a pork-free sausage that was invented by the Portuguese Jews during the Inquisition. When the practice of the Jewish faith was outlawed, the Jews, especially the large community in the northern region of Trás-os-Montes, were easily found as they lacked the traditional pork sausages that hung from the smokehouses. To disguise themselves as “New Christians”, they created their own sausage, made from […]

Conservas de Peixe: The Tasty but Discernible Truth Behind Canned Fish in Portugal

I absolutely love Portuguese fish. Whether writing or speaking, I can go on and on about the quality, freshness and simplicity of a perfectly grilled piece of fish in Portugal.  It’s something I recommend everyone should experience at least once in their life. But if you had asked me not too long ago about Portuguese canned fish, I probably wouldn’t have been as enthusiastic.  I’ve had fluctuating experiences with canned fish over the last 5 years, especially from my random supermarket sampling.  It was like having a can of Spaghetti-O’s. Though tasty in its own way, I would still prefer having homemade meal. That said, as of recent, canned fish has gone gourmet in Portugal. Specifically in the major cities of Lisbon and Porto, […]

Shopping In Portugal: Five Gourmet Portuguese Products for Travel

Portugal is brimming with history, tradition and an abundance of natural resources, mainly of the edible variety! I’ve lost count of the number of nut, cork and olive trees; the vast amount of grapevines and vegetable gardens capable of growing in every nook and cranny; clear rivers and streams teeming with life and herds of goats and sheep, cattle and Iberian black pigs that graze along expansive sunny green pastures. It’s a life that makes you green with envy yourself. Take a walk through the countryside in the springtime and flowers are so lush and wild that they’re bursting through drainpipes and sprouting on rooftops. It’s these images that come to mind when I go shopping for Portuguese products. It’s […]

Peixe em Lisboa: Exploring Restaurant SeaMe in Lisbon

There is no doubt that the Portuguese love their fish, especially Lisboners. With the capital of Lisbon located right in the middle of the country’s extensive coastline, fresh fish has been a staple in the local’s diets since the beginning of time. However, it is only in the last couple of years that the city, and its restaurants in particular, decided to showcase their passion, culminating into the annual event, Peixe em Lisboa – “Lisbon Fish & Flavors.  Now in its sixth season, and growing larger every year, this 11 day gastronomic exposition, held in Pátio da Galé located in downtown Terreiro do Paço square at the edge of the river, runs from April 4-14th and is organized by Turismo de Lisboa with the help of Essencia do […]

Seafood in Sagres, Portugal: A Deliciously Natural Area of Algarve

The southern Portuguese region of the Algarve is a huge summer destination for many Portuguese residents, as well Europeans, as the vast coastline of warmer water currents and consistent sunny weather are ideal for the perfect beach vacation. That said, the Algarve  also tends to have a reputation for being crowded and touristy, especially in the major coastal cities of Albufeira, Portimão and Lagos. But there is one beach-front area that has managed to not only avoid heavy exploitation, but has also remained unspoiled and pure, and that is the lovely area of Sagres. Despite vacationing numerous times in the Algarve, I had never been to Sagres until exactly a month ago. Located on the southwestern-most tip of Portugal in the municipality of Vila […]

Part II: How to Shop for Food in Portugal

Can you believe that in the 4+ years that I’ve lived here, I’ve only started cooking Portuguese dishes at home in the last year? I kept telling myself it’s best I leave the Portuguese cooking to the experts- meaning the mothers and grandmothers of people I know and all the other little ladies who work in the local restaurants consistently turning out delicious food. What I finally realized, however, is these very same women aren’t using any expensive, exotic ingredients or complicated cooking techniques. The beauty of Portuguese cuisine is how well they make use of the abundant local fresh ingredients readily available to them: this includes not only locally sourced fruit, vegetables and livestock, but also the vast diversity […]