Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Week in Yum July 19-25 Savour Stratford, Little Sister, PanAm Food Fest

my new best friend from Little Sister




Saturday was Savour Stratford day at last! I hopped on the shuttle bus that the theatre provides for anyone who has a valid ticket to any play during the current season for $20 return, which is the best deal going. It costs more than that in gas and it's on nice, new coach buses with bathrooms, plugs for my phone charger so I can play words with friends the whole way there and still show up with a full battery. It doesn't get better than that.
the rain held off until the very end of the afternoon

When I showed up to the Intercon at King and Simcoe to board the bus, I was very amused by the pack of well heeled seniors who were the self appointed queue police. Every single time someone would wander over, looking slightly confused and clutching their Stratford Theatre brochure, to ask if this was the place to catch the shuttle, this group would firmly, and loudly, tell them poor sod that this WAS the line but that they were standing at the FRONT and that the back was, well, back there. They would point the poor bugger to the back of the ever growing line while they clucked and worried that someone was going to try to butt into the line, that if that happened they might not get on the bus, they worried that the bus was not going to come, that they might miss it (how can you miss the bus when you are 45 minutes early and standing at the front of the line?)

Then it was time to get on the bus and the driver, a bit long in the tooth himself,  asked for my name. I told him and he said, exasperated, "well, is it Nelson or Brown?"
I replied "it's Nelson Brown"
We went back and forth about this confusing topic.
He decided that it must be Brown then and proceeded to scour the Bs on his list. I told him he might have better luck looking under the Ns since the Nelson part comes first but he had his own ideas. He couldn't find me there, of course, because, as I said, the name is Nelson Brown.
After much muttering,  he finally turned to the N page, found me there and acted like it was the darndest thing. Imagine finding this Nelson Brown person under the Ns???

I felt like I was on a field trip with the casa kids from my magical unicorn school and I mean that in the best possible way. I wanted to hug everyone on my bus.



Unfortunately, I only made a hit and run visit to the actual Savour Stratford festival because I had to work on Friday and Sunday and because Shack had to run off to Montreal to work at the last minute, I had no way to get there. The wonderful Cathy Rehberg of Stratford Tourism arranged for me to hop a ride on the bus so that I could come for at least a few hours and I am so glad I did.




I called up my brother and his wife, who live in north London, and invited them to join me so we wandered around, tasting and sampling and they loved it. I took them for lunch at Monforte and then we hit the tasting tent where my sister in law and I tried out some Ontario wines, a delicious dry cider from XXXX and a tasty gin cocktail from Dillons. I bought some aged gouda from Mountain Oak Cheese on the way out of the tent to make my way to Olive Your Favourites since the store has been closed every time I have tried to stop in. I brought home a bottle of mushroom/sage infused olive oil that I think I could drink straight out of the bottle.

Oh, something cool I had not known about Monforte: Instead of selling wine by the glass, they weigh the bottle and plunk it down and you pour yourself as much or as little as you want and they weigh it again after and you pay for the exact amount you consumed. LOVE!

The festival attracts over 150 chefs, farmers, Because of the timing I didn't get to check out any of the cooking demos (I would have loved to attend the GE Chef Series with Dale Mackay) that took place but I was pretty happy to just wander around and take in all of the offerings downtown.Luckily, you can watch video of the demos you missed here .

Dillon's Gin was slinging a mighty tasty cocktail in Tasting Alley


I was feeling terrible for these wonderful people who spend the year pouring so much energy into this festival on the drive down. They changed the usual fall date to mid July to ensure that they would have a better chance of great weather and here it was, mid July and it was supposed to be chilly and rainy all day. Well, despite the threat of rain, the crowds came out in droves and, in the end, the rain held off until the very end of the day anyway and, in the end, it was successful  Savour Stratford. Don't forget Stratford though, because the whole summer is packed with more food fun.



The Workshop By Latitude


Sunday, I hit up lovely The Workshop by Latitude on Roncesvalles for their Samuel Adams Backyard BBQ where for $25 go you a lovely cheese plate, a big Samuel Adams beer and a lamb burger. You can find my thoughts on that here







Now, this is something I am super excited about. I attended the press conference on Monday for the 2014 Pan American Food Festival press conference at Valdez Restaurant on King W. Although the featured country is Peru this year , the festival showcases the cuisine and culture of the 41 countries of North, South and Central America as well as the Caribbean. There will be a tamale showdown, dancing lessons, lots of kid's programming and Valdez will be running the patio bar all weekend. It's free to the public allday Saturday and Sunday so you can go and enjoy food demos, the vendor's market and all kinds of other fun stuff.

A huge group of chefs will be coming to Toronto from all over the place but I am most excited about seeing Norman Van Aken (the father of the New World Cuisine) and Lima's Roger Arakaki who will be bringing his brand of Japanese/Peruvian fusion.
The press conference took place at Valdez, the latin american King St restaurant owned by Steve Gonzalez (Top Chef Canada, Origin). I hadn't been to this place yet so it was a good excuse to go inside, snack on some really tasty Colombian style empanadas and check out the rooftop patio which will be calling me back asap. I am anxious to enjoy an actual meal here and the cocktails list looks promising too.


Tuesday was lunch at  Xiang Long Bao which is so new, it's almost impossible to find anything about it online. Only two months old, it's the sister restaurant to Ding Tai Fung in Markham. Way out at Sheppard and Brimley, it's closer to the city and I think I might like the food even better. The soup dumplings were my favourite but they make a mean hot and sour soup as well.
One of the things that I like about Shanghai style dumplings is the dough. It is much heartier and sturdier than Cantonese style rice wrappers so they really stand up. The whole wheat flour dough has a really nice chewy quality that I enjoy and it's a nice change from our standard dim sum fare.

Little Sister

One of the week's highlights was my visit to Little Sister, a brand, spanking new Indonesian food bar on Yonge, north of Davisville. Back in the day, I worked in Munich quite a bit and, for some reason, Indonesian food was quite popular so that is what I ate more often than not. If I had the choice between sausage and sauerkraut or nasi goreng, it wasn't really much of a choice. I also always chose Indonesian when I was in Amsterdam as I am also not a huge fan of Dutch food, although I love Dutch people so never mind. If given the choice between pretty much anything european and some sort of Asian, I will almost always take Asian. Over the years, I have watched pretty much every sort of Asian and SouthEast Asian cuisine take hold in Toronto except Indonesian food and I don't know why that is.
sleek and modern, full of gorgeous flowers and shots of rich colour abound inside

When I was contacted by Shannon from The Canadian Office about attending the media preview for Little Sister, I almost wept... Indonesian food at last! It's the second restaurant from the crew at Quince so I was sure it would be good and I was not disappointed. Tender, flavourful skewers of satay chicken and pork with creamy, spicy peanut sauce, crisp fried pangsit wontons, little bowls of sambal daging and udang kari.... I was in absolute heaven.

From the sleek, beautiful decor to the delicious food, I loved everything about this place. I was welcomed with what is going to become my summer elixir, The Ubud Hangout. Gin, jalapeno black pepper syrup, cucumber, fresh cilantro and orange combined to make the most refreshing cocktail I have had in ages. It had elements of a Pimms Cup, which I love, but with that spicy kick from the pepper syrup and one single hot chili floating in the glass. YUM.

this thing is dangerous

The menu covers everyone you need to eat, from skewers and snacks through to more traditional servings of braised meat and seafood dishes and a selection of tasty little sides. Food is meant to be shared, as all food should be shared and I can honestly say that out of the bazillion of dishes they plyed me with, I did not dislike one thing. In fact, I think that if you had to ask me to pick one thing I wouldn't happily reorder on another visit, the only thing I could come up with is the rum cocktail, The Little Brother, and that is only because I am not really a rum fan.
you can watch them cook through the window wall in the back


On Thursday, I helped the lovely and talented Ivy Lam do the hair and makeup on some models for the splashy 5 year anniversary bash for Candace and Alison Events Group. The party, at Malaparte on the 6th floor of the Tiff building, was catered by Oliver & Bonacini and the food was really, really good. Standouts were the three down there:
a glass filled with smoke trapped inside by a thin film of plastic wrap and topped with a dollap of creme fraiche and caviar that you had to lick off the wrap. A tiny hole had been cut into the plastic so that the smoke permeated the creme fraiche - DELICIOUS

Next up was a little boccaccini ball that they stuffed onto the end of an seltzer bottle looking contraption, blew up with air until it was a larger, hollow cheese ball and then floated in a little bath of tomato water. you would chop down on the cheese and the air would rush out and you would be left with this lovely, chewy mass of cheese. So good.

The third thing that I could have eaten all night was a little nugget of rabbit that sat on top of some sort of crunchy, wasabi pea or something. Tasty little bunny.
6 girls had to have those spiky greenery mohawks, decorated with orchids and we did their makeup in one hour
BAM



Check out my Lisbon Trip Planner Day 2 here

Pin of the week: mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Instagram of the week:  I love this guy's instagram feed

Facebook share of the week:


Tweet of the week: see? It's the chef blowing up the cheese!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Samuel Adams Backyard BBQ at The Workshop By Latitude




I live in the far reaches of Toronto's east end so to get me to make my way to the far reaches of the west end requires something special to tempt me out of my lair. The Workshop By Latitude was just that kind of place. A restaurant that is focused on cheese, beer and wine with a resident cheese master on site? Rumours of cheese soaked in beer for months? 

Oh yes, that will get me out to the west end.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Long Weekend in Lisbon, Day 2





Get up nice and early and go get your coffee and breakfast treat (see day 1) . Today will be a day full of great architecture, history, churching up and eating and you will need something in your belly. The fact that will also feel like you walked an uphill marathon by bedtime should just be a given by now.


Friday, July 18, 2014

Pasties de Bacalhau Yum Yum Style


Because salt cod and I have a bit of a contentious relationship, I kind of assumed that I would have a hard time eating in Portugal because bacalhau (the portuguese word for salt cod) seems to be in every dish they make. It is said that there are over 1000 traditional Portuguese bacalhau recipes and I believe that might be an understatement. You can have it in stews, in fritters, in cakes, deep fried, grilled or braised. It's almost always cooked or served with potatoes, as is everything else there to be honest, and despite my initial feelings of distaste for this noble beast , I was certainly willing to try it before announcing that I still hated it. I am nothing if not opened minded.

Bacalhau is to Portuguese cuisine what tomatoes are to Italian, despite the fact that they have to import it from Newfoundland, Norway or Iceland because cod is not native to their waters. Oddly enough, it's also the one fish that they never eat in it's fresh state. Once an inexpensive kitchen staple, cod is no longer cheap due to the collapse of the cod stocks due to massive over fishing and the dismantling of the Portuguese bacalhoeiro fleet and I was told the prices really get jacked up during the Christmas and Easter since most of the traditional dishes during those holidays depend on bacalhau.

one of the zillion pasteis de bacalhau we ate in Portugal
On our first morning in Lisbon, we dropped our bags off at our apartment and were told we could come back at 2pm when the place would be ours for the next few days. Exhausted but excited to be there, we stumbled off down a very steep cobble stoned street and wandered into a cafe called Pastelaria Camoes for espresso and something to eat. The Kid immediately pointed at some little football shaped, deep fried frittery things and the man at the counter said "pasteis de bacalhau?"
The Kid nodded yes, held up two fingers and the man slid two of them onto a plate for him. I don't speak Portuguese but I know what bacalhau means. He took a big bite, his face lit up and he popped the rest right into his mouth so I grabbed the second one to try to taste while I could. Expecting to want to spit my little bite out, I was shocked to discover that it was really good.
Who knew??

Maybe it's just that my palate has matured, maybe it's the way it's prepared but this salt cod cake was delicious. Pasteis de Bacalhau immediately became our go to snack food to keep us going throughout the day. We generally skipped any sort of big lunch when we were out and about but would pop into any sort of cafe or restaurant that looked lively for an espresso and a cod cake, and move along. In ten days we only had one that tasted oily and kind of terrible but it was also at the only restaurant where all of the food was oily and terrible, so I am not going to blame the poor cod that died for nothing.

Of course, because I am me, I did make some changes, which I think are welcome changes. Sweet potatoes give it a richer flavour and the lemon zest brightens up what can be a bit of a heavy snack. The port just made me happy because port always makes me happy.

Pasteis de Bacalhau Yum Style

makes approx 35 cakes


Ingredients:

approx 1 lb dried salt cod (you can get this at any asian, jamaican or portuguese market)
2 cups milk
1 bay leaf
2 medium potatoes
1 large sweet potato
1 sweet onion (I used a vidalia)
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 big handful cilantro, finely chopped
3 large eggs
zest of 1 lemon
1 tbls port
freshly ground black pepper
veg oil for frying

grinding, mixing, forming and frying

Directions:

to soak the salt cod, try to choose thick pieces. Put them in a vessel, cover them with cold water and soak them from 12 to 24 hrs. I put them in the fridge around 6pm, changed the water before bed and returned them to the fridge for overnight. In the morning, changed the water again and let them sit for another hour and kept changing the water every hour a few more times. When you can remove a piece and press your finger into it and taste and the salt is now at a reasonable level, it is ready to use.

Drain the cod and put it in a deep pan or pot, pour in the milk and add enough water to cover by about an inch, add a bay leaf and simmer for about 20 minutes.

While the fish is cooking, steam the potatoes and sweet potatoes until soft, peel and set aside.

Drain, rinse it well and then to dry it, press the fish between some paper towel or in a clean kitchen towel. Remove the skin and bones and remove all the flesh into a big bowl. You can either flake it up by hand or put it in a food processor and give it a couple of pulses to grind it up well - don't puree to a paste, just a couple pulses to grind.

Return the cod to the bowl, put the potatoes through a ricer or mash them well and add those as well. Grate the onion in there, add the minced garlic, cilantro and the lemon zest and mix well. Now, start beating the egg in, one at a time, with a wooden spoon. Add a tbls of port and a few grinds of black pepper with the final egg and give it a final good beating with your wooden spoon, taste and make sure it's well seasoned. It should be salty enough from the cod but you should check to make sure.

You can either use slightly damp hands or two spoons to shape the cod batter into quenelle shapes (like little footballs). You can cover them and refrigerate them up in a covered container to 24 hours before cooking them if you want or even freeze them and deep fry from frozen)

Heat a couple of inches of veg oil to 375F and start to fry them, a few at a time, turning a few times, until they are nicely browned. Try to keep the oil between 350 and 375F so that the cakes get nice and crispy. Remove the cooked pieces to paper towel to drain and continue until they are all cooked.

They can be served hot, room temp or reheated for ten minutes in a 375F oven.

reheated, a great side for breakfast

Monday, July 14, 2014

A Long Weekend in Lisbon, Day 1


Three days is actually a really great amount of time when it comes to discovering Lisbon. I imagine if I lived in Europe, I would treat Lisbon much like we treat NYC and I would visit for a long weekend jaunt once or twice a year. Fly in, explore an undiscovered neighbourhood, revisit a couple of my favourite restaurants, shop a bit, eat a lot and fly back home on Sunday night, relaxed with a belly full of port and bacalhau. I love spending time in a great city without the added pressure of feeling like we have to see EVERY SINGLE AWESOME THING THERE IS TO SEE IN THREE DAYS.

make sure to take a ride on a funicular at least once

To prepare for a trip, I like to do weeks of due diligence and then just wing it. With all that intensive research, I kind of feel like I know the city already and then when we get there, I just start walking around and what I find is that I will keep turning a corner and bumping into something that I had been reading about anyway. I hate feeling like I have to carry around a map and waste valuable time actively looking for things because you often miss all of the incredible stuff there is to see along the way. Pinterest is your friend and if you want to check out my Portugal trip board, I think you will like it.

If I miss some churches or monuments, I will catch them on the next trip but look at this nifty little farmacia I found that sells all of this old fashioned Portuguese hand cream!


Day 1

The only affordable suitcase I could find that would fit the Air Transat carry on dimensions was a kid's bag although judging by the giant suitcases that I saw lugged onto the plane, I could have taken one of my 456 carry ons that were technically a bit too big. I do love this bag though.
Arrive in Lisbon on Friday morning. The airport is right downtown so it's either a €20 cab ride or about a 30 minute ride on the subway, most likely to the Baxia-Chiado station. You have packed wisely with only a rolling carry on suitcase so the subway is actually a great alternative to a taxi that has to navigate the endless one way streets and ever changing road closures. If you take the metro, you get on the red line, switch to the green line at Alameda and you are getting out at Baxia-Chiado because you have booked a lovely apartment in the charming Barrio Alto neighbourhood, right? You could always stay at a hotel but I prefer to live on a real street, in a real apartment so I can feel a little bit like I live there. We stayed in this apartment and it was wonderful but there are endless choices on airbnb in that neighbourhood so just pick one. Make sure to read the reviews first and as long as a place has lots of good feedback, you are good to go. If you insist on a hotel, fine, but try to stay in that area anyway.


hop on and off the tram 28 and explore the narrow, winding and often very steep streets along the route

people dressed as statues appears to be "a thing" in Lisbon


 The Barrio Alto is a perfect base of operations in Lisbon. Alfama is pretty but it's not central enough and it's just way too hilly. Uptown is too, well, uptown and I am not interested in shopping at Armani and Prada. Instead, you are a short walk to the subway and the famous tram 28 which will take you pretty much anywhere you want to go. You are right next door to the Baxia and Chiado neighbourhoods for good shopping and cafe hopping, the tram 15 that will take you out to Belem is one subway stop away and, at night, its the home of endless charming cafes, bars and restaurants and the best people watching in town.

You probably can't actually check into your airbnb apartment or hotel yet since you arrived well before the universal 2ish pm check in time, but you can most likely drop off your bag. That will allow you to go and explore the direct area, grab a coffee and a pastry and get yourself acclimatized.
the area around the Baxia-Chiado subway station
You have lots of options for your breakfast here:

Pastelaria Camoes was The Kid's favourite place to start the day and refuel throughout
You can go down and dirty at a place like Pastelaria Camoes and belly up to the bar with the locals that flock here for their morning espresso, beer and pastry. Very little english is spoken and my misguided attempt to speak Spanish with a Portuguese accent wasn't much help but with our customary pointing, gesturing and all around willingness to eat whatever is put in front of us scored us an amazing ham and omelet sandwich, some meat turnovers called rissois de carne, some pastry and a couple of rounds of fabulous espresso, all for a song.


You can also choose to go somewhere beautiful like the city's most famous cafe,  Cafe Brasileira where you will pay top dollar for your coffee but you can feel worldly and sophisticated and can pretend that you are an avant garde artist during the 20's just taking a break outside at one of their lovely outdoor tables, about to engage in a lively debate with the intellectuals of the day about the price of eggs.


If you want something that feels more familiar and safe than the first option but a bit cheaper and more casual than the second, you can also grab an espresso and a pastel de nata at a good quality chain cafe like Padaria Portuguesa. It has many outlets and this one on the Praca Luis De Camoes, is a bustling little spot with good coffee, nice pastries and a couple of little tables outside so if you want something dependable, you are never too far from one of these spots in Lisbon. The egg tart was very good, with a layered flaky crust that was much lighter than it's Toronto version and it was a bit less sweet as well, which I prefer.
So, after you have some coffee and a snack, it's time to have a bit of a walk about.

If you didn't take the subway from the airport, you need to make sure to descend into the bowels of the Baixa-Chiado station and buy a Viva Viagem card. The card itself is €.50 and for €6 , you can load it with a 24 hr pass. If you treat the card nicely, you can just keep loading it up every day but if you lose it or rip it, don't worry because you can just buy another one for €.50 . The card will get you on the subway, the trams and buses, the Santa Justa Lift, the ferry and it will get you a discount for the funiculars. Don't be alarmed by the million escalators it takes to get down into the station, just cross your fingers and hope to god that all of the ones carrying you back up are working.

You can explore Chiado and all of it's shops and make your way to the Santa Justa Lift. Make sure to stop in at Luvaria Ulisses to try on some of their gorgeous, handmade leather gloves. From the decor of the tiny shop to the manufacturing of their beautiful leather gloves, nothing much has changed since the shop opened in 1925. I was scolded by the woman who was fitting me when I tried to touch one of the gloves that she had laid out for my perusal. Only SHE touches the gloves. I have never been so happy to be treated like a naughty toddler with sticky hands instead of a paying, adult customer who is about to lay down €50  for the gloves she is currently poking with her little finger stretching stick.


If you like great little containers, notebooks and and things that will help put your life in order, make sure to also duck into Muji, which pretty much right next door. We don't have Muji here and so I have only seen their stuff online and I was like a kid in a candy store. You can use your metro pass to ride up the 147ft to the top of Santa Justa Lift because the view from up there is beautiful. It's even more beautiful in the dark so make sure you do that once as well.

don't forget to take a ride to the top after dark


By now, you are probably getting peckish and would like a little lunch, right? In Portugal, lunch is eaten between 1 and 3pm and god protect the person that gets between a Portuguese person and their lunch. They take it very seriously and it is generally their big meal of the day with most restaurants offering a daily special and you would be wise to go with that. It's always fresh and delicious and very reasonably priced. More touristy places will offer a prix fix lunch with three courses and touristy doesn't always equal bad, so if you are really hungry you might want to look for that sort of a place.

you can get these Pasteis de Bacalhau in every single bar, cafeteria and snack stand in the city and at about €1 a pop they make a great snack as you walk up and down the steep hills of Lisbon

We tend to just eat a couple of snacks as we go and have a more substantial dinner later on so if you are like us, I would recommend stopping for a bifana. A bifana is truly a thing of wonder and a Portuguese treasure. Thinly pounded pork cutlets are marinated in spices and white wine and then fried and piled onto a beautiful, white portuguese bun. You then slather it in down and dirty yellow mustard and/or hot oil that will be provided. It sounds and looks really simple and even a bit boring but it's anything but.
You can easily spend an entire day just exploring this wonderful, old area of Lisbon on foot and by tram


Sticking to the neighbourhood, you won't find a better bifana than the ones at  O Trevo and it's really cheap. Two ice cold beers and two bifanas set us back about €7 and, for the three of us, that is lunch. You can't miss it because it's right on the corner, beside the Padaria Portuguesa where you may have had a coffee earlier in the day, on the Praca Luis de Camoes. Funnily enough, it wasn't until I started writing this post that I realized this is the place that Anthony Bourdin raved about in his Lisbon episode of No Reservations.

I keep track of where we eat by photographing all of the receipts but the name of the place on this receipt is different from the name of the restaurant. After an hour of searching, I realized that the address was exactly the same as O Trevo which is the name that kept popping up when I would just search "best bifana Lisbon". So, don't just take my word for it, skip a big lunch and come here for an unbelievably juicy, delectable pork cutlet sandwich instead because Mr Bourdin said you should too.

this weird candy shop in the Barrio Alto is worth a look just because it's so weird and who doesn't love candy?

After a rest and a nap (because, like me, you might be an amatuer when it comes to drinking a little 375 ml bottle of vihno verde at lunch) back at your crash pad, it's time to start thinking about dinner. I like to totally immerse myself into the local culture on my first day, wander, find cool places that you aren't going to find on Trip Advisor and Four Square and that is how we found the place I am going to recommend for dinner. Of course, I have since reviewed it on Trip Advisor but I think mine is still the only review, so for now you are still safe to go there.

the sardines and the fried octopus were the specials of the day - take a translator or dictionary to decipher the menu
Make sure you go to Vasco da Gama for dusk/after dark because the local isn't very charming in the hard light of day

We ate here twice on our ten day trip, on our first and last day in Lisbon and when we go back, it will be our first dinner again


Have a nice shower, change your clothes and go out again in search of sustenance. We stumbled upon the Flor Vasco da Gama quite by accident but now that you know where it is, you can just hop on the 28 tram and go directly there. Once again, nobody speaks english but that's okay. Just sit at one of the order whatever the special is, some vinho verde or beer and enjoy the atmosphere. June is sardine season so we had GIANT sardines, perfectly charred on the grill but just play it by ear. Make sure to order the garlic clams and the grilled chorizo though because their clams were absolutely on par with the clams at O Ramiro (the #1 seafood mecca in Lisbon). The place is packed with local regulars, the odd dog looking for scraps, lively conversation, sporting events on the big tv and you can pretend you're a local for a couple of hours before going across the street, into the square, and grabbing a sugary, deep fried thing for dessert. You can't miss that carny looking kiosk and just take whatever they give you and enjoy.

They make churros but what we had was more like a beaver tail
  Return to the Barrio Alto where you should just bar hop, grab your drink and wander around until you like the look of another place until you are ready to go to bed. It's all very civilized, every establishment seems to just throw tables and out onto the road in front of their place and people take their drinks outside, they sit on steps with a glass of wine, meander up and down the street, cocktails in hand, chatting to friends they see along the way. This place,Cusek Wine Bar, makes a lovely G&T, by the way so if you find yourself passing by, stop in for a drink and some chocolate cake.


listen to some Fado too


A few things to keep in mind when in Lisbon:

we only paid for the things we opened, like these individual containers of fresh cheese
You will be charged for everything you consume in a restaurant. Unlike in most other places, the bread, butter, olives, etc are NOT free. You will be charged anywhere from €1.50 to €3-4  for bread and butter, some places charge for each item separately, some places charge a flat rate for a plate of starters. It doesn't break the bank but just be aware and if you don't want the bread etc, ask them to take it away when you sit down. 



The tram 28 is absolutely charming and really is the best way to get around and it's a tourist attraction for that very reason BUT it also can make you a target for pickpockets. We actually saw the aftermath of someone who had just realized he had been a victim. Now, that terrified looking man was also clutching a man purse with a giant MAP OF LISBON sticking out of it and had a big camera around his neck and was sporting hiking sandals. He might as well have worn a big tattoo on his forehead that said "TOURIST HERE WITH CASH IN HIS POCKETS FOR THE TAKING!"
Just be aware, keep valuables in your front pockets, keep your purse in the front and be mindful. Don't let it ruin your fun or make you paranoid, just don't be stupid.


All of the sidewalks are stone of some sort. They are lovely but bumpy and uneven and everyone wears cute flat sandals. Heels are not your friend here. The streets are also narrow and steep and your calves will get a great workout but just be sure to wear comfy, flat shoes and you will be fine.



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