A taste of Lisbon

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Amber Christian
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We've landed in Lisbon, and are ready for our adventure to begin. I can tell we are a little rusty on the international travel front. I slept at most 30 minutes on our flight from JFK to Lisbon. Matt did a little better, sleeping a couple hours. Let's face, we were both kind of a wreck! We headed off to our Airbnb for a nap before heading out for adventure. The big news is that we made it, and just in time for Matt's birthday!

As I researched and planned the trip, I was surprised to learn more about the emergence of the foodie scene in Lisbon. There are a number of Michelin star restaurants in the area. Whether it is a focus of traditional foods or a modern twist on tradition, there is plenty of great food here!

Belcanto is the world's 42nd best restaurant and has two Michelin stars. Like most of the businesses in Portugal, Belcanto was shut down for months during the pandemic. We knew tourism was just starting to pick up again in Lisbon. On a whim, I decided to see if we could get into Belcanto. We were incredibly lucky to score a reservation for a tasting at the restaurant on very short notice.

After our nap and heading off for a tasting, I realized I was a little nervous- would they be hoity toity and stuffy? This is one of the best restaurants in the world. Did I make a mistake doing this? I'm a bit out of practice with fancy pants restaurants!

Thankfully upon arrival I discovered everyone at the restaurant was warm and friendly. No one minded all my questions as I chattered away, eager to hear more about Portugal and learn what was happening there. We had their evolution menu, and here is all part of the wonderful food we had!

Our tasting lunch started off with a bang- with a lovely cocktail and a birthday toast to my hubby Matt! Elderini with lemon foam and zest. It was refreshing, summery and lovely.

Each course was beautifully presented. We were amazed at all the different flavors, and how well they complimented each other in each course. I could go on and on with all of the wonderfulness, but you get the idea. So what were the favorites?

First, the butter. Oh my goodness, the butter! We had butter in a few different course. I don't remember having so many interesting flavors whipped into butters. While all of these were wonderful, the one that really sticks in my mind was the fig butter. It had this lovely flavor that paired with fresh bread was simply scrumptious. Course after course came in a delicious happy haze. And then the dessert came. Oh me oh my!

I had been spying this dessert since I saw it on another diner's table. I was secretly hoping it would emerge for the dessert course! Due to a vanilla food sensitivity of mine- it did! It was a substitute for the item on the normal tasting menu, but I didn't mind. It was simply incredible! The tasting was really a remarkable experience, and we were so grateful we were able to visit. When I made the booking with Belcanto, I had let them know about some of my food sensitivities as well as that we were coming to celebrate my husband's birthday in Portugal. I didn't think anything of it at the time. But then they did something simply incredible. They brought him a special dessert for his birthday! It was this lovely chocolatey confection that was a cross between a mousse and a fudge. It and it was a party in your mouth.

This part brought tears to my eyes. This pandemic has been so hard on so many of us all over the world. To re-emerge on our first trip internationally, and then have the wonderful team at Belcanto create such a great experience. It was hard not to cry because it was so lovely and special. And this was a delightful way to kick off a trip!

I learned some important lessons about Portuguese hospitality. There was much effort expended on making sure we were comfortable, and we could tell it was very genuine from everyone we met. Not in a "we are nice so you will spend money" kind of way. You could see the kindness and generosity in their eyes. It was very special.

If you haven't ever taken the time or made an effort to do a tasting menu at a restaurant like this, I would definitely suggest adding this to your bucket list.

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