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Lenn Thompson

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Need a Fabulous Late Night Snack in Lisbon? Check out “Restaurante A Merendeira”!

I’ve raved about Portugal‘s amazingly delicious and affordable cuisine, from sunny seafood lunches to rich and meaty dinners, not to mention delectable desserts from the pastelerias.  But what happens when the all the restaurants, cafes and supermarkets close at night and you’re still open with an appetite? It can be difficult to find someplace that is still serving a bit to eat, and nine times out of ten, the food tends to be less than stellar! Finding places to grab a bite to eat in the wee hours in Lisbon can also be an adventure, but if you happen to be out and about in Santos, the city’s “design district” with plenty of bars and clubs like Bairro Alto, there’s […]

H3: Where the Ultimate Mouthwatering Hamburgers are Made in Portugal

Many people in Portugal have referred to me as a non-stereotypical American – one that often frequents McDonalds wherever they are in the world. However, truth be told, I love a delicious, well-made burger every now and again. And it is my  personal belief that America is the king of tasty burgers.  So when a Portuguese friend of mine told me I needed to try a specific burger joint here in Portugal, my reaction was, “Burgers? You want to take me to a Portuguese burger joint??”  I already had the unfortunate encounter of seeing the Portuguese’s interpretation of an American 50′s style diner that served some flimsy, pathetic looking tasteless burgers. So you can imagine my skepticism when the offer […]

Folar da Pascoa: Portugal’s Delicious Easter Bread

Ever since I was little, I would look forward to a particular treat during the Easter season. It wasn’t the chocolate candy, or the colored eggs, but the homemade Easter bread made by my Italian mother and aunts.  This sweet bread, traditionally flavored with anise oil and seeds, would be my breakfast every morning during Easter week, lathered with butter. Last spring, however, was the first Easter where I wouldn’t be able to enjoy my family’s Easter bread since I came overseas. Hence, it didn’t look like it was going to be a very happy holiday for me. But on one of my frequent visits to the pastelerias here, I discovered that I didn’t have to go back home to […]

Patatas Bravas: My Dirty Spanish Secret

There is a romance to Spain that is all its own.  From Bizet‘s Carmen to Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls, the world has a vision of Spain steeped in exoticism that draws many of us towards this fascinating country; myself included.  But one of my most cherished elements of Spain has little to no romance to offer: patatas bravas. Although I’m certain that this dish is a constant accompaniment to all of the more romantic events that happen in Spain – bullfights, flamenco concerts, festivals of all kinds – they don’t amount to much more than fried potatoes.  Some of the best fries around, sure, but fried potatoes can’t be said to inspire the same kind of mystique that […]

Portugal’s Regional Pastries: A Touch of Sweetness With Individuality!

Over the past year, I have gushed to no end about Portugal‘s delicious pastry industry to you. No matter where you travel in Portugal, you can always find plenty of Pastelerias, the home of the delicious sweet treats that put a smile on my face almost every morning. But what you may not know is that apart from these nationwide recipes, there are many individual cities and towns that boast of their own unique pastries. Below, I have featured two of the most renowned regional pastries in and around Lisbon, along with derivatives from local regions. Yet, despite the regional differences, there is one common theme throughout every pastry in Portugal, egg yolk. Egg yolk is the magical ingredient that […]

The Gastronomical Bounty in Castilla y León: Asados, Embutidos, Quesos and More

My entire life has been surrounded by food. The rich smell of simmering meat and the pop of an uncorked wine bottle take me back to family gatherings spent huddled in the kitchen listening to heartfelt laughter among people I love. I equate food to family, to history and to culture. Here in Spain, I have been blessed with a bounty of incredible ingredients, most of which are picked fresh and harvested locally. And although most ingredients are relatively the same throughout the peninsula, each region expresses their own cultural uniqueness by the way in which they prepare, serve and consume each dish. Last week, I spent 4 days visiting Castilla y León, and despite its relatively small size in […]

Table Manners in Spain: Tackling The Tough Questions Like Where to Put the Olive Pit

Recently, we were asked if we could lay out the expected table manners in Spain in our Q&A section. As this is a relatively subjective question, considering that Spain is famous for rarely following any rule, I’ve done my best to compile the top 12 table manners as I’ve experienced them in Spain. Mind you, all of these can be debated, and I encourage anyone to chime in with their experiences. Also check out my inspiration for this article from Notes from Spain. “Stick em Up! Leave Your Hands Where I Can See Them” In Spain, one never lets your hands drop under the table. Why? Well, rumor has it that your hands have a funny way of meandering to […]

Toma Jamon & A Beginner’s Guide to Spanish Cured Ham

Meander through the old portion of Madrid, near Plaza Mayor, and I would suspect that you would encounter the legendary Spanish cured ham called, jamón, within 20 feet in any direction of where your standing. This delicacy is so prevalent, and addictive, that both expatriates and Spaniards alike go through severe bouts of withdrawal when traveling. Phrases such as: “I need to get my mitts on some jamón the minute I land on Spanish soil” or “Although I love traveling through the States,  the idea of not having a leg of jamón readily available to me at all times can make any vacation unbearable”. I sense you might be rolling your eyes about now, but if you’ve ever placed a […]

Sesimbra: A Seafood Lover’s Paradise in Portugal

Wine may be one of my favorite things to drink, but seafood is definitely one of my favorite things to eat – especially shellfish.  And as you may already know, coastal Portugal has no shortage in this category! Within a 50km radius outside of the Lisbon cityscape, you have direct access to several other smaller coastal cities for your sun, sand and seafood. I have flocked to almost all of these cities by now, and when it comes to seafood, specifically shellfish, my number one pick is Sesimbra. Sesimbra is a small, mountain isolated town situated on the southern shore 40km outside of Lisbon. Its long, horseshoe shaped beach is cut in half by an old military fort, and surrounded […]

Wine Blog Wednesday #53: El Jefe Challenges Us to Pair Breakfast Foods with Wine

Today, for this month’s WBW, hosted by El Jefe of El Bloggo Torcido, Gabriella and I decided to invite all of our friends here in Iberia to offer their contribution to the topic of breakfast and wine. In Spain, at least a glass of wine is pretty traditional for breakfast. Hence, we invited our Catalan friend in Barcelona to tell us about his familiar experience; our writer, Justin Roberts, from Jerez to explain how sherry matches with traditional English fare; and finally, our friend Vitor Mendes from Portugal who chipped in with his two cents on rustic Portuguese fair. As for us? Growing up, I remember how much fun we had when mom made breakfast foods for dinner, or when […]