Portugal: A Culinary Quest

31 Jul

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”J.R.R. Tolkien

There are 2 types of people in this world: the sort who eats to live, to give themselves enough energy to keep going. They don’t savour each bite, don’t look forward to eating their food and trying new things – they simply eat because they must.

“I am a better person when I have less on my plate.”
Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

Then you have the other sort. The people who dream in multi-coloured joy of foods that they cannot wait to eat; whose taste buds explode like fireworks to new foods and who relish going out into the big wide world and sampling lots of foods that they have never tried before – a bucket lists of tastes and flavours.

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” Virginia Woolf

I’m type 2. And I would rather die than be type one. I am the sort of person that is constantly exploring new foods, new combinations and new recipes. The type of girl who bakes for fun (despite avoiding sugary treats and therefore feeding those around me) and who cooks to de-stress. I cook for happiness, I cook for sadness. When someone dies or something bad happens I can often be found with my music blaring, stirring furiously at the stove, because it’s my happy place. Food boosts my soul. (And also my waist line, goddamit!)

Yesterday I flew back from a stay in Portugal, and over the next couple of day’s I’ll share my highlights, with the important stuff first. THE FOOD.

I’m a big believer in the idea of eating tapas and small bits; that way the greedy pig in me doesn’t have to opt for one item on the menu, and can instead eat a little bit of everything. I also love to dine on seafood, and frequenting a house right by the sea means that you can eat the freshest seafood that you will ever eat, against a beautiful Mediterranean backdrop.

Some of the highlights of my visit were: white wine sangria, squid and prawn kebabs, ice-cream and mussels – in fact there were too many delicious delicacies to pick!

 Ice Cream


Seafood Cataplana

ImageA cataplana is a bit like a Portuguese version of a Spanish paella, but minus the rice. It is cooked in a large bronze dish, but without the rice it becomes more of a fish stew; packed with prawns, mussels, clams, sliced pork, langoustines and plenty of peppers and tomatoes. It’s a really hearty dish and a little strange to eat in the heat, but it’s a must have when on the Algarve. We valiantly tried to defeat it but it won!

Squid and Prawn Kebabs


Delicious squid and prawn kebabs in my favourite restaurant, Pedros

The clue is pretty much in the title with this one 🙂

Clams with Garlic

ImageClams with garlic is one of my favourite Portuguese dishes. Served with bread for dipping in the juices, you squeeze the lemon over and get stuck in.

What is your favourite holiday food?


11 Responses to “Portugal: A Culinary Quest”

  1. Sam July 31, 2013 at 12:28 pm #

    I left a comment but it didnt seem to go through. Basically I live in the south of Johannesburg (a city in South Africa). It’s like mini Portugal here. Everyone is Portuguese. It means we have the best restuarants. I absolutely LOVE Portuguese sea food. Nom nom. You’ve made me hungry!

  2. Holly July 31, 2013 at 4:47 pm #

    My step father is portuguese so I loved reading this post! Did you have the custard tarts? & port?? I’m a huge port fan!

    • tinkerbelle86 July 31, 2013 at 4:53 pm #

      I can confirm there was no port or custard tarts consumed, but the octopus with garlic will keep me happy for a few weeks to come! I also missed out on the salted cod because we were only there for 4 days and there are only so many meals a girl can squeeze in!

  3. mariner2mother July 31, 2013 at 5:14 pm #

    Back in mid-June, we celebrated my son’s getting out of school for the year, by going to a popular tourist attraction a few hours from our home, and dining at the top of Seattle’s Space Needle. There is a restaurant up in the top, that rotates about once every 45 minutes. I had a pecan encrusted chicken sandwich with other things, which was pretty good. But what really impressed me was the sorbet I had for dessert. There were 3 small balls of sorbet on a plate, and two of them left me in heaven: the pineapple basil and the orange rosemary. They had put just the right about of the herb into the sorbet to give it flavor without it being too much. My mouth was in heaven!

  4. 1stpeaksteve July 31, 2013 at 5:25 pm #

    I love seafood and that is literally seafood overload! The kebabs look so delicious and I would not even know where to start with the cataplana. I guess I need to seek out some more authentic Portuguese restaurants!

  5. Redneckprincess August 2, 2013 at 5:21 am #

    Oh my god….all of those look amazing 🙂

  6. Vanessa-Jane Chapman August 2, 2013 at 5:54 am #

    That seafood looks fabulous 🙂 I’m a number two too! When I take the kids abroad, we always choose the self-catering option because one of biggest pleasures of going abroad is the food. We don’t tend to cook there, but we love to look round the local food shops to buy little bits for breakfasts and lunch, and then try different restaurants each night for dinner. I’m so glad my kids like trying different food too. My idea of holiday hell is to go on an all-inclusive and be stuck eating the same crap in the same place every day! I know some all-inclusives are good, but I’ve heard too many horror stories of bad ones to take the risk!

  7. Granddad August 2, 2013 at 6:10 pm #

    Nice blog Honey! If you do add some more in this vein, it would be nice to read a bit abouythe restaurants.

  8. beyondlisbon August 6, 2013 at 8:54 am #

    Clams with garlic, aka, amêijoas à Bulhão Pato – one of my favourite dishes! Can be made with several other types of seafood and is the proof that sometimes dishes with few ingredients are the best!

  9. philosophermouseofthehedge August 15, 2013 at 7:30 pm #

    Portugal does have wonderful food – the octopus and garlic! Of course the scenery doesn’t hurt either.

  10. prenin August 15, 2013 at 9:01 pm #

    Mmmm… 🙂

    I’m not big on sea food, but that looks delicious!!! 😛

    Sorry for the delay in commenting – Wordress is somewhat messed up – but I have instructions on what to do to, so here goes!!! 🙂

    Love and hugs!


    First attempt failed as expected!

    Now for the second, and hopefully successful, attempt!!! 🙂

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