Day 17 was another R&R day, which was good for me because I really needed a day to relax. We spent our morning organizing and packing, getting ready for our flight to Rome the next day. For lunch, we walked down to the Mercado da Ribeira, at which we had eaten twice last year. This year, we ordered a plate with two types of cheeses and a large portion of pata negra, a high quality Iberian cured ham. It was outstanding – so rich and delicate, it almost melted in my mouth. The cheeses were alsmot both delicious, the perfect combination of tangy and salty. After that, we ordered a fancy hamburger from an “artisanal hamburger” stall. It was pretty delicious as well! I feel like anything with caramelized onions on it has to be wonderful. For dessert, we had a pastel de nata each – delicious custard pastries unique to Portugal.
After lunch, we walked around the waterfront a bit. There weren’t many people out, so it was fairly calm and pleasant. We ended up going to check out a “bonus vat” that was nearby, conveniently located in a wine shop that had free port tastings! Chris’ job is so hard.
We spent the balance of the afternoon at a wine bar, Lisbon Winery, each ordering different types of wine so we could try more. There was only one other table occupied – a tour group of some sort made up of an Australian woman, an English couple, and an American couple. I will freely admit that I immensely enjoyed sitting there with my wine eavesdropping on their conversation!
For dinner, we went to Clube de Jornalistas, a highly rated place almost around the corner from our hotel. It was another fabulous experience – we sat on the balcony overlooking their garden space, and had roasted eggplant with miso caramel, asparagus risotto with pata negra, and sort of a duck egg roll – duck meat wrapped in a bit of pastry, served with barely and figs (and a delicious glass of wine, of course!). For dessert, we enjoyed a chocolate cake with hazelnuts and a glass of port, and I don’t think there could have been a nicer way to end our time in Lisbon.
We definitely ate much better both in Spain but also in Portugal during this trip. I remember last year not being very impressed by a lot of what we ate, but I think most of that had to do with the location of our hotel. Last year in Lisbon, our hotel was more toward the city center, so most restaurants were catering towards tourists, which usually means they don’t take their food very seriously (which we definitely experienced in Granada). This year, our lovely guesthouse was a bit more off the beaten path, and was surrounded by really good food options. We also used TripAdvisor a lot this year, which really helped, though I can’t remember if we did that last year also.
Obviously for these trips, we travel to experience the Roman world as much as possible, but for us, food is another (THE other) huge reason for exploring new places. We definitely identify as foodies, but not in a snobby way (I hope), just in a we-really-love-food way. We cook a lot together at home and getting to experience a culture’s food traditions is so exciting and fun. And just the act of eating together is important – it allows us time to unwind and talk, and ultimately brings us closer together. Food and trying new foods are a really important part of our relationship.