This week we’re in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon, discovering tips from local Vítor Carriço, learning the secrets of custard tarts and the origins of tempura.
So, you’ve brought me to your favourite cafe/bar – tell me about it.
This is the rooftop bar of the Bairro Alto Hotel and due to its location, service and drinks; it is one of my favourite places for a sundowner, overlooking all the boats and ferries crossing the Tagus River. It’s one of the best places to relax in the city.
Mmm… this is good, what are we drinking?
It’s Moscatel wine – a delicious liquor wine made from Muscat raisins from the region of Setúbal, not far from Lisbon. It’s best served on the rocks and is a perfect drink for an aperitif.
What are your favourite local dishes?
I have so many but my favourite local dish is peixinhos da horta, a sort of tempura. In fact, did you know that the Portuguese actually introduced this dish to Japan? I also love ameijoas á bulhão pato, clams with coriander and garlic, a very traditional dish, and bacalhau á bras – cod fish mixed with French fries, onions and scrambled eggs. And for desert, or a snack with a coffee, you can’t go wrong with the famous pastéis de Belém – a traditional custard tart originally produced at the Belém Monastery.
And where would you suggest I go to find these?
You’ll find all of them in most of Lisbon restaurants, with an exception for the pastéis de Belém. For the best, head to the Antiga Confeitaria de Belém, where they have the original and secret recipe from the monastery next door.
The sky is blue and the sun is shining, what’s the best thing to do on a day like today?
Discover your own Lisbon by walking around the old quarters of Baixa, Chiado or Bairro Alto. Or as an alternative, go to the Nations Park, the newest and most modern quarter of Lisbon. This is where the biggest sea aquarium in Europe is – the Oceanario de Lisboa. It is definitely worth a visit. Take the metro and look out for underground artwork and colourful tiles as you go.
And if it rains?
Visit some of the many museums we have here. Some of the best are the Gulbenkian Foundation Museum, which is home to the best world collection of works by glass designer René Lalique, among others. The National Museum of Ancient Art is also well worth a visit and houses the finest collection of Portuguese art from the middle age to the 19th century. Alternatively if you’re not into art, then visit the last Royal Palace occupied by the Portuguese Royal family – the National Palace of Ajuda.
If there’s one thing I should do while I’m here, what is it?
You should definitely visit the S. Jorge Castle, from where you have a fantastic overview of the Tagus River and the rooftops of Lisbon. It is the best start for a visit to Lisbon. To get there travel by tram, the old number 28 is the best. Start your ride at the Estrela Garden, then travel past the ‘Portas do Sol’ and up the hill.
Give me a local tip that other tourists wouldn’t usually know…
Take at the sunset ferry at the Cais do Sodré terminal to Cacilhas and have a drink in one of the bars on the river shore, while enjoying the best views over the city.