Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Oriente Station

Back in Lisbon, at Calatrava's stunning rail station.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

On Things Seemingly Designed for My Personal Euphoria

Karen mentioned the drive out to the Duoro Valley in passing. Truth is, I'd much rather drive in Europe than the States. Drivers are opportunistic--as they should be--but considerate. They also know what lanes are for and how to use them on the autopista. On rural roads, a spirit of cooperation prevails. And there's a distinct lack of assholes attempting to compensate for their salary and/or penis size by driving unnecessary vehicles at unnecessary speeds toward unnecessary destinations. 

Then there's dinner. If you make reservations before nine they look at you funny. So don't do that. But do eat the roasted carcass of a small farm animal like I described in the other post. Then move on. 

The traditional but elevated O Paparico--you have to knock on the door to be admitted--will start you off with the best G&T you've ever had, then seat you at an already dressed table. Now, I don't know about you, but if I arrive at a table, G&T in hand, and there's food waiting, I might prefer some bread and butter. If the butter happens to be house-churned goat butter, even better. If it comes on a salt palette that seasons it, awesome. But that's just one option. They might also present a room-temperature-melting sheep's cheese. Or an octopus salad. Or the plate that won Portugal's best dish in 2011: veal liver mousseline in port reduction and toasted fennel seed. 

These are just here on the table, starting you out. The bacalhau and black-eyed pea salad come next. And then there's the octopus. Dear lord, the charred octopus. Served with a port reduction, cherry tomatoes and baby onions, it's the best I've ever had. There was more after that, but I had already lost consciousness. 

Shall I stop? Shall I not discuss how this country, which occupies the same westward-facing latitude as California, has ideal weather and ideal, well, everything? 

Okay. One more. Karen's birthday. DOP is a fine restaurant in the modern tradition. That's the foie you're looking at. There's also the duck, the cheese course, the cod tagliatelle, the crab ravioli, the surprise courses and the amazing service. It sounds like it would cost a limb or two, but the truth is that here in Portugal, this kind of craft is de riguer; people take pride in their work, as if dinner can make the world a better place. And indeed, it can. 

Church of San Francisco

It was amazing, dripping in Gothic ornament. Gold everywhere. No photos allowed, though. Enjoy instead the photo of the dark and creepy catacombs.

Street views from Porto

I like my public art with farm animals

They do have a functional farm at Serralves, complete with farm animals.

And more

Oldenburg in Serralves

Serralves park views

Serralves Foundation

An amazing contemporary art museum, situated in a lovely park, with public art throughout.

The anti-mall

It's super cute, filled with shops from local designers, crafts, art, and fashion.

Porto views

Happy birthday to me!

I told you they were serious about their pastries

Monday, July 1, 2013

Fast Food

This Portuguese version of a hot dog, the cucharro simples, is neither fast nor simple. Yes, there is a dog and there is a bun. There is also ham, cheese, lettuce, carrot, mushroom, potato chips, mustard and mayo (I asked they hold the ketchup 'cuz that's just gross). I know it was fresh because it took 25 minutes to prepare, which means they stuffed the dog themselves while cultivating the mushrooms.

More Duoro

Duoro River Valley

Getting out here was ridiculous (Michael will undoubtedly fill this part in later), but the Duoro Valley rewarded us with the most dramatically beautiful landscape. And lots of port (they grow all the grapes on the steep inclines). Enjoy the pretty pictures for now.

Breakfast of champions

I love traveling to places with a strong coffee culture--and Portugal has a great one. Cafe/snack bars with espresso machines are on every corner and coffee is consumed at all hours. Plus, the pastries are lovely. Every day I eat at least two of the traditional pastel de nata--delightful flake pastry shells filled with rich custard. Yum.