Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Long weekend in Porto

Bobby and I spent a long weekend together  in one of our favorite cities: Porto, Portugal. Bobby spent 3 weeks of April in Porto, where he was doing research with an old Stanford colleague.  We love Porto for many reasons, and the weather is definitely one of the reasons! Though Bobby had some chilly and rainy days during early April, Spring had properly set by the time I arrived. Every day I was there was had warm, sunny days.
Another reason we love Porto is it's run-down charm. This city has more abandoned buildings than any other city I've been to, and yet we find this to be part of the city's charm! Of course, there are beautiful well-maintained buildings with amazing tiles and decorative balconies, but the grittiness of the old buildings makes the city feel like it's actually lived in. No museum affect here!
Many of the run-down buidlings are illegally inhabited by various people: out-of-work young men and women (of which, unfortunately, there are many in Portugal), young starving artists, and the usual riffraff. However, this building was too far gone to be inhabited by anyone. It certainly is pretty, though.
Not even churches are spared from abandonment!
Another reason we love Porto is the food. Oh, the food! It's funny, we know several people who have been to Portugal and had terrible food experiences, but we've only had great experiences there (minus a particular meal of wild boar's anus, from our first trip to Porto in summer 2009). We tried a new restaurant this time around: DOP. We enjoyed the full menu course with accompanying wines. After a few amuse-bouche, we enjoyed this wonderful appetizer: foie gras wrapped in apple with a port wine reduction. Delicious!
This dish featured a very large Madagascar shrimp with Portuguese beans and a lobster foam.
This dish featured Portuguese rice (very good), lobster, and a type of fish from the Doro river.
On the side of the dish was this little piece of lobster and special caviar (very prettily presented), which was unlike any caviar I've had. The texture was much more smooth than your typical caviar, and the eggs melted instead of burst in your mouth. Quite luxurious.

We were also served some fantastic Wagu beef. This particular dish was quite creative (though a bit of a parlor trick, which we've seen at several other restaurants): it was served with a glass lid over it, and when the lid was removed, fragrant smoke drifted to our noses. The burnt-looking trigs are actually bread, and the beef was perfectly seared. The next dish, which isn't pictured, was another Wagu beef dish, and it was equally delicious.

The dessert centered around one ingredient: celeriac (celery root). It sounds odd, but it actually works. On the left is a very dark chocolate triangle with a celeriac and creme mousse. Holding it up is a brownie with chopped and roasted celeriac. On the left is a celeriac ice cream, which was quite tasty. All in all, it was a very lovely meal.
But don't worry, Bobby and I don't exclusively eat foam and root vegetable desserts. We also enjoy the food of the common man :) This grilled chicken was really, really good, and we licked our fingers more than once.
We headed to the ocean-side city of Matosinhos, which is just a 30 minute metro ride away from Porto. We enjoyed our favorite Portuguese meal there (and it's a meal we get every time we're in Porto, and often more than once per trip): grilled seafood and vinho verde! We started with some grilled green peppers, which were (sadly) not at all spicy, but still flavorful.

Little fried sardines were served, but we waited for our main course...
Big grilled sardines! Honestly, we can't get enough of these. The crispy, crackly, salty skin, and the perfectly cooked flaky flesh of the fish pair perfectly with a fresh salad, boiled potatoes, and a bottle of vinho verde.
Couple the meal with the warm weather and you get a very happy Carla!
Yet another thing we love about Porto: cheap and good drinks. It's just so lovely to sit at a little café or restaurant overlooking the Doro river while enjoying a pitcher of Sangria.
And, of course, the port wine. Ah, the port! We enjoyed a nice meal at a restaurant accompanied by a bottle of wine. Instead of dessert, we opted for the port tasting. We ordered only one tasting, and it's a good thing, because the server poured us 6 healthy glasses of port! We had a late bottle vintage Graham's, a 1989 vintage tawny Kopke (tied for first place in our opinion), a Niepoort rosé, a Niepoort tawny, a very interesting chilled ruby Kopke, and a 40 year old vintage tawny Graham's (the other first place port).

It was a refreshing and revitalizing weekend in Porto. The food, long walks, afternoon naps, and warm weather prepared will help me to get through this cold Danish spring and prepare me for Athens, Bobby's next adventure!

No comments:

Post a Comment