Condé Nast elected Lisbon as the top destination for City Breaks this year in Europe. The great weather, the location by the sea and the river, the sights and the food are some of the reasons to take a summer break in the Portuguese capital.
Food and Drink
Since Roman times, the water in Portugal has been used for therapeutic purposes. Thanks to their purity and diversity, spas remain a source of well being even today. The Centro region was favored by the Romans for the purity of its waters and it was that here they built spas for the treatment of bodily and spiritual ailments.
The Portuguese Easter celebration includes the visiting of Christ on the cross to the families's houses for blessings. Compasso is the name of the small catholic group that, headed by a Judge that carries the cross, goes through every town's street ringing the bells announcing the Christ's resurrection.
Lisbon is Portugal’s largest city – thriving with all kinds of culture, entertainment and cuisine. So, in this most Portuguese of cities you would think the culture is pretty homogeneous? Right? Wrong! Today’s Lisbon is a multi-cultural city, capital of the Portuguese speaking world and full of all kinds of delights and fun from Asia to Africa to South America. Here is a mini-guide to multi-cultural Lisbon:
As for meat, local favorites include the Serrabulho, which begins its cooking process as boiled pig's blood before blending it with rice. There is also the crackling pork (Rojões) and leg of pork à Clara Penha.
The International Academy of Gastronomy has just awarded José Avillez the Grand Prix de L ’Art de La Cuisine, a distinction that “rewards great contemporary cooking artists whose culinary mastery and creativity are recognized worldwide”.
Vinho verde is made with Portuguese grapes varietals such as alvarinho, loureiro, trajadura and pederna- all which are lower in alcohol.
Easter is the perfect time to try specialties of Portuguese cuisine. After Lent, try traditional roast kid, lamb stew, meatballs, sweet buns, dark chocolate and almond eggs. In Castelo de Vide town in the Alentejo, you’ll experience a unique Easter celebration, one with Jewish origins. In the morning of Easter Eve, the region’s shepherds fill the town centre to have their flocks of sheep blessed.
Summer in Portugal is marked by two great street foods--popcorn and fried dough. Rest assured these items are a bit different than you might experience at a typical American fair. Pipocas, or popcorn, is usually very colorful with red, blue or bright yellow kernels. Pipocas is served lightly coated with a salty-sugary glaze that hardens. It is quite addictive, especially since you can find it everywhere and it is quite inexpensive. Another ever-present treat is farturas or malassadas, a fried dough that ends up being rather crisp but not oily. High quality oil and excellent dough make the treat stand out from what you might expect of fried dough at an American carnival. Look for it in most any seaside resort town, city square or fair in Portugal.
"Quinta da Cabreira" cheese, produced by Lactibar Dairy of Sabugal, was voted the "Best Goat Cheese" by the National Association of Industrialists of Dairy Products (ANIL). Not a surprise, it is a great cheese.