Saturday, 23 July 2011

Portugal, in a nutshell.

There is no excuse for the utter and absolute neglect.
Well, there is, actually. I barely had time to breath let alone maintain my virtual abode when a wave of intensive commitments washed over, taking every spare moment I had with it. The overbearing heat and humidity aren't helpful and everything seems to be moving in slow motion, with great difficulty.I've managed to squeeze a few minutes for a long overdue post, a quick breather before its back underwater.
I did, however, spend the earlier part of the month in Portugal, though I'd swear it was another lifetime. I finally managed to sort through all of the photos and take the time to digest (not literally, I did that already...) the experience, the local terroir and the food.
The portugal I discovered is rich with wonderful local produce. While the local failed to wow us, venturing into local markets throughout our trip was immensely satisfying. Market stalls displayed a splendiferous array of sea life, greens and fruits and, after sampling quite a few of the local wines, my affair with red wine has rekindled.
Some of the highlights included:
The Francesinha, a Porto specialty and the local version of a Croque Monsieur, consists of a toasted sandwich filled with ham, pork and sausage, wrapped in cheese and soaked in a hot, beer based sauce. Loved the concept, prefer a salad.
Snails in the market, available in bulk or by weight.
Sintra cheese cake, aka Queijadas de Sintra, as well as pretty much all the pastry everywhere we went, is a variation on a recurring theme; egg yolk and sugar. no cheese.
The flaky ribbons that adorned a column adjacent to the sausages stall are dried intestines, complete with a 'meaty' aroma built in.
Breathtaking views along the Duoro river made up for the pastry.
Thank god for fresh summer fruit, ham, cheese and bread.
And fresh sardines, naturally.