Food- glorious food! The more we have traveled the world, the more we have learned to appreciate all the deliciousness we can experience. Truly understanding the different foods and how they have shaped the culture is best done by working with locals. This is one of our travel secrets. By working with locals to book food tours and other tours, we gain a deeper perspective than if we were to simply try to have some of these foods on our own. The food, the history, it creates a unique shared experience. Today's tour was booked with Oh my Cod food tours. It was a 17 Tastings Lisbon food tour with Adriana as our host. We booked this tour specifically because they visit restaurants owned by locals. I don't want to give the whole tour away, so I will focus on what was most memorable for us about the tour.
We explored three neighborhoods in Lisbon as we experienced different tastes in each neighborhood. Each neighborhood came alive as we walked the neighborhood and talked about its history. One of our stops allowed us to see the beloved Bacalhau- dried and salted cod. This would be one of the first of many run-in's, er, experiences with Bacalhau.
Our stop here included a taste of Bisaro Pork. This pigs eat acorns as they are growing up. Bisaro Pork is less well known than Iberian Ham of course. We found it quite tasty. I know are looking at the picture wondering what are those little orange squares? Quince jam. I'm officially in love with the little squares of quince. It's such an interesting presentation for a jam, and pairs lovely with cheese. We had a Sao Jorge cheese with the quince jam. I am making mental notes to do a lot more digging on quince when I get home. It's not something I commonly see, but I am excited to explore more of this interesting fruit. I am fascinated to see jam that is so solid that it is cut into squares! While not all quince jams are like this, I found this to be an interesting presentation. Who needs a cracker when you have a semi-hard cheese as a delivery vessel for all that quince delightfulness? Just the cheese and the good stuff.
We also started learning more about the different types of port on this tour. White port, Tawny port, Ruby port. I'm not the biggest Port wine fan, I'll admit it. But given the size of the port industry, it's primarily the wine we hear about from Portugal. But at another stop, I discovered what is now one of my favorite white wines. Vino Verde. A lovely, refreshing sparkling wine. The moment I tasted it, I knew I had discovered something magical. So where does Vino Verde come from?
Vino Verde is from the north of Portugal, not far from the famous Douro valley. It is a light and refreshing wine- perfect for a hot summer day. I feel like I have discovered another gem that will be explored at a later date. Somehow I already know we are going to have to return to Portugal for more trips! Now, back to the food....
Our final stop brings forth one of the foods that has been on my list to try since arriving in Portugal- Sardines! Matt and I are both excited to try sardines at A Murahla. I know you are thinking, "those little stinky canned fish"? You might even be holding your nose as you think about it. A fresh sardine is NOTHING like those little things you get in the can (even though my husband loves those canned fish too). Fresh sardines also are much larger than the little fish we get in the can.
Just look at that baby! Our guide Adriana explained how to eat the fish, and we proceed. I'm not great at it, but Matt is pretty much an expert from the word go. But did we eat the heads? We'll never tell! This was the last stop on our tour. With our bellies filled with all kinds of amazing food, and wine tastings at each stop, we are feeling mellow. We lingered here a while, as others in our food tour had to head off to their next rendezvous. We sat and chatted with the soon to be restaurant owner (daughter of current owners). She shared how to make quince jam when I told her how much I liked it. These are the kinds of memories we take with us. The kindness of restaurant and show owners, and delightful experiences.