A friendly restaurant

Salsa&Coentros

The Portuguese do not like to divulge their favorite neighborhood restaurants, so we’re violating social norms by telling you about Salsa & Coentros (parsley and coriander). It is a delightful restaurant in Lisbon’s Alvalade neighborhood which serves food from the Alentejo and Trás-os-Montes provinces.

Dining at Salsa & Coentros is like visiting a friend who makes wonderful meals with local ingredients such as míscaros (wild mushrooms), cação (dogfish), partridges, wild asparagus, black pig, and fresh octopus.

If you become a regular visitor to Portugal, you’re likely to meet friends who are great home cooks. Until then, you can enjoy the traditional cuisine of Portugal at Salsa & Coentros.

Salsa e Coentros is located at Rua Coronel Marques Leitão, n. 12, Lisbon. Tel. 218410990. 

Santini’s artisan gelato

In 1949 an Italian called Attilio Santini opened a gelato store in Estoril, an idyllic beach resort near Lisbon. There was a tradition of gelato making in his family; his great grandfather had a gelato store in Vienna. Santini’s approach was simple: make the gelato fresh every day using only the very best cream and fruit. Word of mouth quickly made Santini famous in the 1950s. It helped that many of Europe’s dethroned kings and queens lived in Estoril and became loyal customers. One of these customers, Juanito, is now better known as King Juan Carlos of Spain.

There was a feeling of elegance, of relaxed optimism about the 1950s that you can see in the lines of the Fiat cinquecento or hear in Miles Davis’ recording of ‘Round Midnight. It is this sweet feeling that you can still taste today in a Santini gelato.

Santini has currently three locations, one in Lisbon, near Chiado (Rua do Carmo, 9) and two others in beach resorts near Lisbon (S. João do Estoril, Rua Nova da Estação, 5, and Cascais, Av. Valbom, 28F). There can be long lines in the Summer. The wait is an opportunity to consider which of the more than 50 varieties we are going to try. We don’t want to rush into this decision! Click here for Santini’s website.

Tea and scones at the Vicentinas

Nuvens, Rui Barreiros Duarte, ink on paper, 2011.

Clouds also deserve a break and, on their day off, they occasionally travel to Lisbon. Mostly, it’s the cirrus and stratus, the pretty, socialite clouds that come looking for a good time. But, sometimes, they let the nimbus clouds tag along and then it rains.

These rainy days are a blessing to the ancient trees scattered throughout the city, fruits of the seeds that Portuguese sailors brought from all over the world. For the tourist, a rainy day is an opportunity to try some of the best tea and scones in Lisbon. These have been served for more than 30 years at the Vicentinas, a tea shop in Rua de São Bento. The proceeds go to charity, which makes these wonderful scones taste even better.

As Vicentinas, Rua de São Bento, 700
, Lisboa

, Tel: 213 887040.

Lamprey is in season!

Lampreia (lamprey) is a very strange fish that, somehow, gained favor with emperors and kings. The Romans included it in banquets prepared for Julius Caesar. The oldest known Portuguese cookbook, a 16th century collection of recipes attributed to Infanta D. Maria, has a single fish recipe that describes how to prepare and cook lamprey.

You don’t have to conquer Gaul or marry royalty to eat lamprey. Many Portuguese restaurants offer this delicacy between January and April. It is usually served stewed, accompanied with rice. You find excellent lamprey at Solar dos Presuntos, a traditional Lisbon restaurant where you can dine like a king.

Restaurante Solar dos Presuntos, Rua das Portas de Stº Antão, 150, Lisbon. Tel. 21 342 42 53, GPS coordinates: 38º43’07″N and 9º08’51″O. Click here for their website.