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Portugal - Delicacies and poetry

Bem vindo ao restaurante “A Sardinha”


Before my departure, I read all kinds of reviews about Portuguese food. Everyone agrees that the ingredients are exceptional but some say that the cooks are less so. There's nothing like judging for yourself, so here are my findings.


When I arrived in Peniche, I was tired. The Quebec-Péniche trip took nearly 40 hours and I feel a great need for beauty and goodness.


Obviously, I did my little research before arriving and I have already chosen my first restaurant, "A Sardinha", or "The sardine" if you prefer the language of Shakespeare.


When I arrive, the restaurant is about to close for the afternoon siesta, but I convince the waiter of my state of starvation. Adding a big smile, I close the matter and he shows me a table. A few moments later, he places in front of me, fresh bread of the day, small pâtés and olives. We discuss the menu for a few moments and following his advice, I choose the grilled fish.


WOW


Everything is simple, everything is fresh, everything is deliciously good. My first encounter with Portuguese gastronomy is a success.


With my fish, I opted for a white wine full of character, made with arinto. I'm going to have to take a trip to Ontario because you can only find it at the LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) less than 500 km from my home and this wine is worth the trip.



Vinho verde

In Armação de Pêra, at the Pera Bistro Bar, I taste


-pastéis de bacalhau (cod fritters)

-bites of goat cheese, caramelized red onion, nuts and honey

-small pork ribs, honey BBQ sauce


I am taking this opportunity to deepen my knowledge of vinho verde (green wine). This is a Portuguese wine protected by a Designation of Origin. (DOC). Its name refers to the freshness of its youth more than to its color since there are reds, whites and even rosés. Happiness in a bottle...



Ginja

In Nazareth, during a short stop, I taste Ginja. A sweet, deep red liqueur made from morello cherries.


It is usually served with the fruit at the bottom of the glass, popularly known as com elas (with them), or, when served neat, sem elas (without them). It's so good... So good, that it's the only souvenir I brought back from Portugal to immerse myself in my memories every time I taste it.



My disappointment

Francesinha is to the Portuguese what poutine is to Quebecers. We love it or we hate it.


A pork or beef steak, between two slices of white bread. Add cheese, a fried egg and tomato sauce. Let's just say it wasn't in my taste palette...



An enthusiast

The farm that hosts me in Evora, Quinta do Louredo, has a passionate young chef. Ricardo does everything himself. The welcome, the food, the service and even the dishes.


He prepares his meals in an antique wood-fired oven where he lets them simmer for 24 to 48 hours. As he says himself, he doesn't offer food but an experience. He is proud to offer his memories, his terroir... The recipes are inspired by his family tradition and the products, all very fresh, come from Quinta do Louredo and producers in the region.



Poetry and love

After eating and drinking so well, nothing beats a little poetry. My choice turns to the greatest Portuguese poet, Luís Vaz de Camões.


He is the subject of such worship by the Portuguese people that the day of his death has become the Portuguese national holiday. His work can be compared to those of Virgil, Dante or Shakespeare. His verses, like good food, are enjoyed peacefully.



Love is a fire whose flame doth burn unseen


Love is a fire whose flame doth burn unseen

A wound whose aching smart we do not feel;

Contentment discontent with its own weal;

A teasing pain, though neither deep nor keen:


It is not liking more than liking e'en;

Wandering alone 'midst crowds that seem unreal;

Not to content one's self with Heaven's own seal;

A care that only gain by loss doth mean:

'Tis to be captured with one's own consent;

The victor to the vanquished here must serve;

Keep faith with one who on our death is bent:

How can its fickle favour e'er preserve

In human hearts consistence of intent,

Since to itself contrarious Love doth swerve?



 Amor é fogo que arde sem se ver


 Amor é fogo que arde sem se ver;

 É ferida que dói e não se sente;

 É um contentamento descontente;

 É dor que desatina sem doer;


 É um não querer mais que bem querer;

 É solitário andar por entre a gente;

 É nunca contentar-se de contente;

 É cuidar que se ganha em se perder;


 É querer estar preso por vontade;

 É servir a quem vence, o vencedor;

 É ter com quem nos mata lealdade.


 Mas como causar pode seu favor

 Nos corações humanos amizade,

 Se tão contrário a si é o mesmo Amor?



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