.: Childhood food memories:.

If there’s one thing I truly love that is food. It’s one of the main reasons why I like to explore around (and again you know my definition of exploring means both next door as well as travel away). I guess this is also a reflection of the country I grew up: Portugal. Food is part of our culture. It’s always a reason to gather friends and celebrate.

I was actually shocked by the fact that in London English people rarely invite others home and cook together a meal. From one hand I suspect that’s because of the lack of space, not everyone can afford to rent a flat, and a flat that allows some space for friends to come over. I recognise that. But after talking to a few guys at work, it’s simply not so much the culture either. When people want to see friends they will go mostly to a pub or a nice restaurant. I admit it’s way more convenient! The other thing that took me a while to guess used to was drinks after work: how can one stand hours standing and drinking and no food? Once I’ve finally learnt it, I’ve started to eat before going to the social drinks and not to stay that late so I could still grab a proper dinner.

One of the things I missed the most about living in Lisbon, is to gather friends around in my flat, have a meal together and some drinks too. I’ve started to do that over the last few years, but if I circle around my group of friends most of them are expats same as me! Although I love to try new restaurants (and London is such a paradise for that!!!) I find myself craving for the simplest foods and again that’s because at home we would eat simple. No fuss, just using ingredients from our backyard (which my granddad still maintains!). There was a point my grandma also had chickens and ducks, so I was spoiled with this amazing fresh food all around me. We would also go to the city and buy fish as it would arrive from the fisherman. And whatever my grandparents didn’t have they would exchange with the neighbours. They still do that and I find it’s absolutely beautiful! Oh, I feel that I’m being teleported back in time, to my own childhood memories.

Scrambled Eggs

So I was absolutely spoiled food-wise, mostly by my grandma and there was a point I was a bit picky with the food. On the days they would cook grilled sardines (which I hate since I remember even if I really love the smell), my grandma would always prepare scrambled eggs for us. And I can’t think of better scrambled eggs than those with fresh eggs! (probably those available since the morning from her chicken!) It’s no wonder scrambled eggs is one of my favourite brunches! My sister is crazy about them as I am. In the meantime I’ve upgraded her version by using chopped cherry tomato, but it still makes me smile as both of us would try to finish soup or whatever so we could then get our hands on the eggs!

Spaghetti Tomato

My grandma, my dad and me are crazy about spaghetti tomato. Seriously, if there’s a food I crave quite often this is it. And I mean, it’s literally just that, fresh pasta and tomato sauce using the tomatoes from our garden (which up to this point, I never found any better than those out there!) I could eat this every single day! She would then sparkle it with coriander… ah so delicious! My mom says I really love pasta because at the time she was pregnant of me she was working at an Italian restaurant and she would have access to delicious pasta, pizza, coffee and ice creams. I suspect she’s right because I crave all of that.

Pizza

And I’m not talking about any pizza, I’m talking about the memories of making pizza with my dad. We would prepare everything from the scratch, from the dough to our own sauce creations. We would do a mess in the kitchen and my mom would most likely complain about it, but it was so nice to spend a few hours together in the kitchen talking and preparing pizza. Later on, we’ve ended up using the hand-mixer to make it easier to prepare the dough (with the swirls)

Once I didn’t connected the “swirls” very well into the machine, so when the dough was almost ready, one of the swirls disconnected and went flying straight to the bin with the dough attached to it. We’ve giggled loads on how stupid that was and we had to restart. We had quite a late dinner that night. It still makes me giggle after all these years.

Bread and Olive Oil

I love love love bread. Crunchy on the outside and soft and warm on the inside. I still remember the sound of the baker’s van as he would deliver fresh bread into our house every day. I would come running down the stairs and feast in the bread, either with butter or after lunch with olive oil. Let’s just say I was not very hungry at the main meals, because I couldn’t resist the bread! My favourite meal was the afternoon one (let’s call it afternoon tea). I would have a glass of fresh milk and 2 huge slices of bread with butter and cheese. Or in some of the festivals we would have access to the stone baked chorizo bread.

Oh so good! Give me bread, good olive oil and I’m happy.

Almond roll

Forget the Swiss roll, this is way way better! My grandma’s bakery is something that will always give me found memories. All her cakes are absolutely amazing, but I have a special place in my heart for her almond roll. In Algarve, most of our sweets have a link to almond, typically almond and eggs, and her roll… ahhh so moist and good! If we would go on a picnic, she would always prepare one. If it was someone’s birthday, she would do it as well. Oh yes, our birthday parties were legendary. I’m sure most of my friends would only come because they would have access to so many good cakes. We would have cakes for weeks around our birthdays. It’s quite silly that I have never attempted to prepare this one, maybe because I don’t want to spoil the memory. Maybe next time will try to skype with her so she can guide me through, as her recipe book is like Mary Berry’s instructions, it doesn’t say almost anything!!!

Coffee

I’m sure I’ve shared this a million times, but one of the things I crave the most if coffee. Anything coffee flavoured! My mom would give me a small cup full of milk and add a drop of coffee and I would delight on it. I’m not sure when I’ve started to drink espressos, but way before I had any cravings for wine. Every weekend we would always go out after lunch to a nearby cafe so my parents could have espresso and I would have my milk with coffee (and ice creams in summer time). It’s mostly after lunch that I miss a good strong espresso as it does help digest. And I just love the flavour 🙂

Does food brings you back childhood memories? What was your favourite dish back then?

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.: Missing Alentejo :.

Last time I was in Portugal was back in March for his birthday. It felt so good to see family and friends and marvel myself in all the food (we have so many hidden treasures, you can check a few here).

But now that everyone is going on holidays, I’m really craving for a holiday in one of my favourite regions in the world: Alentejo. As I can’t fly for a few months still need to wait for February next year (oh I’m seriously counting down!!!). but no matter what need to do a little escape to explore Alentejo once more. (You can see my previous posts about Alentejo here)

Places to Stay

Ecork Hotel

As the name suggests, the inspiration for this place is an eco hotel where they try to use of the best products in the region: cork! I love cork! Would love to have one of these bags!

 

For more bag inspiration you can check Pelcor’s website here.

Back to the hotel, look at this amazing view?

You can see their special offers here.

Torre de Palma, Wine Hotel

As the name suggests, it’s an hotel centred around of the best things about Alentejo, the wine! They have their own vineyard

Love this minimalist space

Prices start at around £126 per night, but you can check the offers here and the wine experiences here.

L’and Vinyeards

Similar to the one above, with modern architecture. Love this place

If you can try to get one of the sky suites as you’ll be able to enjoy the amazing sky! Because of there are almost no cities in Alentejo, most of the places are small villages and small houses in open air field, you have the most amazing sky, full of stars!

For all the offers and experiences check here. Rooms start around £153.

Herdade do Amarelo

This place, is a gorgeous traditional place, perfect to disconnect from the world and just enjoy the estate itself.

What do do in Alentejo

  • Loads! Ensure you get at least a wine tasting experience, but you should be able to explore some of the vineyards as well!
  • Balloon ride – that’s right, Alentejo is so gorgeous that it’s worth to wake up early in the morning and see the sunrise
  • Eat – Most of the places above have their own restaurant and really good chefs, but any small restaurant will have their own wonders. The food in Alentejo is just superb!
  • Explore – It’s the perfect place to drive around the coast and explore the gorgeous coastal beach. It’s one of the most beautiful coasts in the world, I’m sure about that!

It’s quite easy to see why I miss Alentejo so badly right? So looking forward to be back!

.: Exploring Lisbon March :.

Before I start to share the photos from Japan, I need to go back in time and share the photos from my weekend away in Lisbon. I didn’t took as many as usual because I spend quite a lot of time socializing with friends

A stop for ice-cream, yummy!

As the weather was rubbish we went to explore a gorgeous place that my sister found, perfect for rainy days

And more sweets

For lunch we went to Time Out Market as there are so many good places for a meal. I went to Chef Marlene as they had a choice of octopus which I love

A mandatory stop for us is a visit to Brasileira for an espresso

Before I went to the airport, I had the chance to try the best pasteis de Nata in Lisbon, from Manteigaria. So delicious!!!

Looking forward to be back!

.: A week full of steak :.

It’s been quite crazy recently, between holidays, weekends with friends or just scanning through old photos and last weekend a lovely wedding in Madeira (that’s a Portuguese island famous for being difficult to land and Madeira wine, which is quite similar to Port).

So let’s start with the best steak I’ve ever had, and yes it was in Madeira

So good!!!! I have to admit I was lacking some energy after the landing. It was something like this

The other gorgeous thing about Madeira is the bread “Bolo de caco”

Next day we had an amazing wedding in Funchal, I haven’t seen my photos yet, so have to rely on his for the time being:

Sunday morning – or shall I say lunch time – we only had time for lunch before heading back to the airport

Espetada Madeirense

We were back on Sunday evening, around 12h00 after waiting 1 hour for our taxi in Gatwick. I wish we had the idea to take the car and park it there, it would have been cheaper and better.

Monday it was time to get back to work, so I have to admit waking up at 06h was almost as hard as the landing in Madeira. But I had also an event later that evening at Vinopolis for a wine & cheese tasting event. Yap could get used to this life of working in London!

Tuesday morning back to Bristol for work. Again, waking up at 05h30 was even harder than on Monday. I was feeling really asleep most of the day, so when I went to the hotel and they’ve asked me if I wanted the Flat Iron as the steak of the day, I’ve said yes without thinking.

On Wed. I had booked Cau as part of the Wed. Night Club at work. Cau is an Argentinian chain famous for STEAK!!!! This was such a massive piece of meat! As I wanted to try one of the special cuts, the smaller size was 400g. That’s at least double of what I normally have

But soooo tasty! Steak & Malbec, a combination made in heaven. Will be back into Cau for a normal size piece of steak.

Tonight decided to have the fillet I’ve ordered with stout. So here it goes for steak nr 4. No more steak for a few days at least!

Do you like steak? What’s your favourite place for a good one? Cheers 🙂

.: White Houses – Alentejo, Portugal :.

For those of you that are following me for a while you will know that one of my favourite regions in the world is Alentejo, Portugal! Before I left Portugal back in 2010, I used to wake up early in the morning and explore a different corner of Alentejo.

.: The Food :.

Carne de Porco Alentejana

Amejoas a bolhao pato

Arroz de Marisco – seafood rice

.: The wine :.

Alentejo is one of the most wine regions in Portugal, I guess second to “Douro”, the birthplace of Port wine. But for an honest wine to drink among friends I can’t resist Alentejo wine. Unpretentious, dry and strong

Adega de Borba

Antão Vaz da Peceguina Branco

Esporao reserva

One of my favourite

Monte Velho

.: The landscape :.

I would say this is the best part of it all. After the amazing food and wines, it’s a gorgeous natural landscape

There’s also the coast! Imagine Rhossili Bay, Wales, but even more unique!

.: An experience @ Alentejo :.

It’s all about turning off your phone – but leaving your camera on for some amazing photos – shutting down and just relax!

Some examples below

Casas da Lupa

House on alentejo shore

Monte do Zambujeiro

For more inspirations and places to stay check here.

Looking forward to go! Tempted to go as well?

.: Gin Tonic with a view – Le Chat :.

One of the things which is quite trendy in Lisbon is exploring Gin Tonic. They love having English Gin, but as I have plenty of that here in the supermarkets, what I’m really keen on having is Portuguese Gins. And if I can match that with sunshine and a nice view even better! So that was the plan for one of the afternoons we were in Lisbon.

Le Chat

Le Chat is located in the middle of 24 de Julho street, a famous street just in front of a night-out area (Santos).

Photo from google

Another photo from google

It’s brilliant that Lisbon has so many “views” (Miradouros). I need to explore them all, I’m sure I’ll make it or not ahhahahah

I’ve ordered Gin Mare and he ordered something else along with a dessert

Gin Tonic

Gin Tonic with a view

The view itself is not one of the best, as you see the harbour-side pretty much, but the space is really relaxing.

I felt that the chairs could be a bit more comfortable, and we didn’t really had a table, just a cube on the floor to place our drinks, but oh well!

After our drinks we even had the chance to visit the Zomato Offices in Lisbon 😀 The guys were quite happy with all the female staff around. It seems to be such a relaxed and creative environment, so cool!

Zomato Selfie!

So quite a nice afternoon!

.: Exploring Lisbon – Sunny March :.

After our gorgeous lunch at Cafe Lisboa, we were more than ready for a long walk around the city centre. If you know Lisbon, you will know it’s quite hilly, so make sure you have comfortable shoes with you and be prepared to enjoy the sun.

Stories from the tram

Estrela 28

Note to self: Need to improve my photo editing skills! But then again, I don’t normally edit photos this much

The musician

24

Blue nr 1

Yes I know, I love doors! Same way I actually love photographing tiles!

 

 

Lisbon ruins

When all hope is lost

That moment when you get caught photographic strangers! Thanks for the smile back 🙂

There he is…. 6 years later on the same spot

Couldn’t believe this musician was still there 6 years later after I took him the first photo

6 years ago

The tram photographers

Waiting for the tram

Moments in the city

Golden town

Se Postcard – classic photo from Lisbon

It was a lot of walking, but Lisbon is really worth exploring! Have you been in Lisbon? Any thoughts you would like to share?