I love visiting new places, what has always been more memorable for me no matter where I’ve traveled has always been the food. I’ve come to the realization that although there are a finite number of things you can actually eat, meat, fish, fowl, etc.,etc., there are infinite ways to prepare or places to eat, so my focus will be more on the actual dish/preparation than the restaurant itself because I believe that the basic product (Beef, Fish, Fowl, etc.) and the restaurant are the Canvas and the final renditions of the Dish itself are the painting or the work of art. You may not be able to enjoy a Paella prepared in Spain, Ceviche in Peru or a Lobster Risotto in Italy but if you know what to look for you should be able to find a good comparable dish somewhere closer to home or maybe even learn how to prepare it yourself.
Front of Adraga Restaurant, Rear Terrace, View of beach from indoor seating.
Adraga Restaurant in Sintra Portugal isn’t much to look at from the outside or the inside for that matter but you would never guess that by their pricing. We basically had a grilled Lobster and a Passion Fruit Pie. The lobster, which was the smallest one they had was $105 Euros and it did not include any accompaniments, I would expected various at that price. But it is hard to botch up a fresh live lobster and this one was seasoned and grilled to perfection, just the right amount of butter, garlic and just the right texture, delicious. This Restaurant is located right on the beach and is very popular with the locals (probably not so much tourists) who were the ones that highly recommended this place. It has beautiful views from the indoor seating area or the rear deck. There isn’t much I can say about the preparation of this lobster, basically you take a fresh lobster, cut it in half lengthwise, (after placing in freezer for 10-15 minutes if it was a live Lobster) you then prepare drawn butter, add lemon, cilantro, salt & pepper and optionally, garlic, spread it on the exposed half’s of the lobster, place on the grill, meat side down, check once the shell turns red about (7-10 minutes @ 350-400 degrees) the meat turns opaque. Make sure you do not overcook or it will get hard and rubbery. For the passion fruit pie dessert, your on your own, it was a perfect end to an excellent meal.
**Sintra has so many beautiful sights that I had to include a few pictures at the bottom of the page
1.2 Kilo Grilled Lobster
Indoor seating area and Lobster/ Crab Fish Tank
Passion Fruit Pie Adraga Beach View from Restaurant
Quinta de Regaleira as well as all photo’s below
Front and Rear View of Bufalo Grill
Rodizio’s are very popular in the US and originated in Brazil, this particular Rodizio in Lisboa, Portugal is advertised as a Brazilian steak house. The concept for the most part are typically the same with the variant being the particular cuts of beef offered and the variety and size of the salad bar. This particular restaurant is located in a beautiful part of the city and offers water sports (canoe, paddle boats, Kayaks) for rental on the artificial pond at the back of the restaurant and numerous other restaurants. We were there for lunch so I am going to assume that the variety of meats is greater at dinner than it was for lunch, as it was not very impressive, the salad bar as you can see in one of the pictures below is small by any standard, in Brazil and many US Rodizios the salad bar would be 6-8 times the size. The basic cuts that we enjoyed in Bufalo Grill were two types of chicken, grilled and garlic chicken, 2 or three different chorizos and about 3 cuts of beef. They were not necessarily my favorite cuts of beef in a Rodizio with a wide variety of cuts they will probably have 10 or more cuts of beef and pork, plus chorizos and chicken skewers of different types. The chorizos, chicken and one of the cuts of beef were quiet good. In places with a wide variety of cuts the secret is to hold out as they will try to get you filled up with all of the cheaper cuts and serve the more expensive ones on the later rounds. The way that the different cuts are seasoned and cooked on the rotating skewers on the fire grill seals in the flavor and makes them taste unique and savory.
Back seating area, Salad Bar and Garnishes, French Fries, Rice, Feijoada
Chicken and Chorizo Skewer
Cod Fish in Olive Oil and Garlic With Boiled Potatoes-Menu Board
Telecabin is one of the modes of transportation that takes you across this complex
Bufalo is located to the left of this canal, there are various restaurants in this complex
The Trattoria is an apparently very popular Italian Restaurant in Portugal that has been frequented by many famous people from different parts of the world, many of them depicted on a photo wall. Even with an exact address we almost missed the restaurant as it’s located inside a commercial building and signage is not it’s strong suite. I originally went there to order a pizza as they have a brick oven and are known to make an excellent pizza., but alas, it was not meant to be, once I saw the waiter walk by with the dish that I ultimately ordered, the steak with shaved Parmesan cheese and Arugula accompanied by golden fries it was love at first sight and I had to change my order. The sirloin steak was well seasoned and grilled to perfection, the fries were fried in fresh virgin olive oil and had just the right amount of salt. The perfect combination of those contrasting yet complimentary tastes and textures made this simple meal excellent. Just as the ambiance of a restaurant can enhance a meal so does the presentation and at least for me a wood platter not only enhances the appearance but the flavor as well, in particular beef dishes.
Grilled Sirloin Steak, Shaved Parmesan cheese and arugula salad.
Trattoria Kitchen, Brick Oven and Grill
Trattoria Seating Area and Downstairs Bar
Trattoria Photo Wall
Lisboa Portugal is a lovely city with an abundance of cultural, geographical, architectural and lets not forget gastronomical superabundance. Let’s explore a few of them starting with Restaurant Maritima Dos Colonias (Basically Maritime Rest of the Two Colonies). We had three dishes, an Octopus Salad comprised primarily of fresh boiled octopus, shredded carrots, tomatoes, corn, onions and garnished with cilantro and a light vinaigrette and olive oil mix. Good but not great. The other Dish was had was a Seafood Casserole, it was a little like a Paella but without all of the extra bits and pieces of varied seafood that are part of a seafood Paella and as you will note in the picture a lot more broth vs a Paella which is more moist than dry but not almost like a soup or gumbo. The seasoning the broth, the rice and the shrimp were spot on and as good as it looked. The third dish that we enjoyed were grilled sardines accompanied by potatoes, shredded carrots and a salad. The seasoning (basically salt, pepper & olive oil) was good, but I am of the opinion, based on my personal experience, that the smaller the sardine the tastier and better it is, these were on the larger side, need I say more. Bottom line is that this is a very easy dish to prepare with the key being your ability to get a fresh sardine of the right size. Our dessert was a bread pudding which sometimes can look a bit like Flan (custard pie) but is in fact different, the best way to describe the difference is that the Bread Pudding is more of a bread/cake like consistency and is less creamy and typically not as sweet. Some are better than others depending on consistency and how sweet or not they are, this one, was very good…
Indoor Seating Area-Cheese, wine & Olive Appetizer
Seafood Casserole, Octopus Salad and Grilled Shrimp
Bread Pudding Dessert-Ummmm
Upstairs Outdoor Seating Area Casa Paco
For most people, I’m not necessarily one of them, the ambiance is as or even more important than the actual meal. I’m sure however that we can all agree that when you combine the two, a great place and a great meal it doesn’t get any better than that. In these instances I will make an exception to my rule and share a lot of pictures of the place and not just the food. We had a few different dishes, two of our courses were basically beef and chicken, the Steak was a NY Strip and the chicken were chunks on a skewer, both well seasoned, fresh and prepared on a grill with wood chips, anything you make on this would automatically, in my opinion, improve by 50%. Both plates were accompanied by grilled fresh vegetables, basically, onions, egg plant, tomato and asparagus, a healthy, simple and delicious addition to any meal. We also ordered the ever popular Cod Fish, this one baked and smothered in a fresh tomato, garlic and onion puree that enhanced the flavor perfectly. The perfect way to end any meal is with dessert. This dessert was both unique (which is not necessarily always a good thing) and outstanding, one of the best desserts we had while in Europe. I have had Flans (custard) in many countries and in many different flavors but never one made with fresh ground figs and combined with a homemade coffee ice cream, outstanding…
Wood fire Grill
Grilled Chicken skewer and Grilled Vegetable medley
Cod Fish with Tomato, onion & green pepper Puree-NY Strip, and Potatoes
This was one of the top 5 desserts we had while in Europe, Fresh Fig Flan (custard) with home made coffee ice cream, the uniqueness of the fig flan flavor complimented by the coffee ice cream was ridiculous.
Indoor Seating Area Casa Paco
Sunset Casa Paco and Indoor Seating Area leading to Bar
El Mero is a Spanish restaurant in Seville which is located next to a river that flows through the city and adjacent to numerous other restaurants located one right next to another overlooking the canal. We chose to sit at this restaurant just to enjoy the view and have a light snack. We had Fried Calamari, a common and simple dish that when made with fresh ingredients and a good fresh olive oil , as was the case here, makes for a wonderful meal. Another common dish are the fried croquettes which are stuffed with a ham puree, this is a typical dish available in many Hispanic restaurants in the US, it tastes much better than it sounds. Last of all we had a Lemon mouse with home made whipped cream, absolutely delicious and worth every single calorie.
Fresh Fried Calamari
surrullos blah blah
Lemon Mouse with home made Whipped Cream-Better than any meal
River View adjacent to Restaurant
Sevilla has no shortage of Restaurants and Casa La Viuda (House of the Widow) 2 apparently has a no. 1 somewhere. Like every other restaurant that we visited while in Spain and in Seville in particular they were all jam packed. This one was quaint and had the usual dishes that you are accustomed to having in Spain. We chose to have a more typical meal in this instance rather than one of the more popular and sometimes complex dishes. My choice was a grilled chicken and french fries with a red dipping sauce. You can observe in the picture below that the potatoes are the perfect golden color of french fries were fried fried in fresh olive oil (which is prevalent in Spain, the Olive Oil capital of the world) the chicken was well seasoned, grilled and perfectly lean and fresh. The sauce was simply made of a tomato puree, olive oil, garlic with seasoning but it enhanced the flavor of both the chicken and the fries. The second selection, chosen by my wife, also a common and popular dish in Spain, albeit more complex, was the Cod Fish baked in a battered egg white, butter, garlic & tomato concoction that looks like melted Cheddar cheese with tomato sauce, I have to learn how to make this, it is both unique and awesome. In Florida you will be hard pressed to find a thick cut of fresh cod fish but based on texture, if not so much taste, you may substitute with a fresh Sea Bass.
The bottom line is that fresh ingredients and small touches can make a simple meal exceptional as is the case for the chicken with the special red sauce and the cod fish,
Grilled Chicken, French Fries and a tomato olive oil & garlic sauce
Baked Cod Fish in an egg white, butter & garlic batter with tomato sauce
Casa La Viuda Outdoor Seating Area
Some of the best beef in the World comes from Argentina. Even though in Spain they have very good beef when I asked where can I have a great steak, the common response was, if you want the best, look for an Argentinian Restaurant. So who was I to go against their recommendations. This restaurant was very nice, more towards the higher tier of the restaurant spectrum. If I go to a steak restaurant I will probably eat a steak. We had the Beef de Chorizo (NY Strip) and a baked potato. The beef from Argentina because of how they are fed & raised is different/better than most steaks that you would have in the US , with the possible exception of some of the higher tier restaurants in the US like Ruth’s Chris or Morton’s. But by the same token if you get the best of the best from Argentinian (vs the typical good restaurant) they will still be equal or better than anything you can get in the US. In both Argentina and Spain the pricing will be about 50% of what you would pay at the high tier US Steak houses. For an appetizer we had two typical Argentinian dishes, Chorizo and Provoleta. The Provoleta basically consists of Provolone cheese, extra virgin olive oil, dry oregano, kosher salt and pepper which is then baked or barbecued on an open grill in the same dish that it is served in. It is simple, unique and something you should try at least once in your life. For dessert we had a crepe filled with Dulce de Leche accompanied by home made whipped cream, light, different and delicious. This was a simple meal when you compare to the complexity of some exotic dishes but there was nothing simple about the taste, all it took was great ingredients a good grill and your done. Even the crepe is placed on the grill in Argentina.
Beef de Chorizo (NY Strip)
Provoleta (Baked Provolone Cheese) Chorizo (Beef Sausage)
Crepe with Dulce de Leche and Home Made Whipped Cream
This particular Tapas Restaurant was located in the same row of around 15 or so restaurants as the first one that we went to on this our first evening in Barcelona. Personally I like to chose my restaurants based on the menu , the ambiance and the looks of whatever I see coming out of the kitchen or sitting at someones table. I have acquired an eye for food and I’m usually 90% (9 out of 10) accurate with most foods and with Sushi I’m 99% accurate. In this particular restaurant we were asked if we wanted to try a tomato based bread that is common in many restaurants in Spain, it is dangerously good, you have to try it at least once and if you like it you can easily prepare this dish, puree and season a fresh tomato and then spread it on some good French Bread and toast in the oven. The other dishes shown below are the infamous Gambas al Ajillo (shrimp in garlic, oil & red pepper) and the Crockett’s, in this case stuffed with pureed ham but also served with chicken or other meats, This is a very simple and very inexpensive meal, I don’t recall the exact price but if I had to guess I would say this was under $20 euros. Combined with our prior Tapas restaurant this particular evening was still less than $35 euros.
Lola is a famous and well known Flamingo Dancer. This was our first day in Barcelona and I wanted to try a couple of Tapas Restaurants I will list two for the same evening (not sure, there may have been a third). Tapas can be a small portion of anything so at our first two places we started with the lighter fare so that we could eat at more than one place. You will note from the pictures that most Tapas restaurants either have an outdoor seating area along their outer walls or as is the case here, situated across the street in a large median where other restaurants have their outdoor seating area one right next to another. We ordered three Tapas here, Manchego Cheese, Jamon Serrano (Ham), and meatballs. Their are some different choices for cheese but Manchego is the most popular Tapas cheese served everywhere. The Serrano Ham comes in too many variants to count, their are more varieties of Serrano Hams then their are cuts for beef. You will have to taste them and decide for yourselves which ones you like best, one way to do this is to go to one of the many shops that you can find in Spain that sell a variety of Hams and sample a few. Bottom line, anyone can buy a few different cheeses and Serrano or Prosciutto hams, olives, make some meatballs and serve with a good bread and you have put together your first Tapas lunch or dinner. Your imagination and personal tastes are the only things that can limit you.
Outdoor Seating Area
Jamon Serrano, Manchego Cheese, Meatballs Bread and French Fries
Like most Tapa’s restaurants in Seville this one was in a very old building in a pedestrian traffic only street. We literally happened upon this little jewel only because we could not find a table (It was Holy Week-Semana Santa) at any of the first 20 or so restaurants we came across. This one had it’s own unique (for the most part) menu with few of the typical dishes such as (Gambas al Ajillo, Paella, Octopus. etc.) But as you can see from the short menu (with specials written in chalk indoors & outdoors) the prices were ridiculously low but the food was excellent. We had Fried Calamari for our appetizer (perfectly prepared & amazingly fresh) we had the iBerian Tenderloin which looks and tastes a bit like a beef stew except that the iBerian Tenderloin is better than any beef stew I’ve ever had. It had no vegetables only potatoes and sat in this delicious broth which was based on the natural juices released by the tenderloin, this made the meat very tender and enhanced the flavor of the meat and the potatoes. Definitely a dish that I will try to emulate and prepare at some point. The dessert, probably in the top 5 of my whole trip, Turon, which is made of Almonds, Honey and Egg Whites, typically in a very hard candy like consistency but in this case it was a softer version, firm but light with a home made real cherry syrup and whipped cream, you would have to taste it to understand how good this was. This is a very popular dessert candy, especially during the Christmas Season.
Top iberian Tenderloin, bottom left, Spanish Red Wine, middle, Fried Calamari, left, Turon with cherry syrup and whipped cream.
Outdoor seating area of La Morada Rest, view of street from our table
El Rincon del Murillo is located in a pedestrian traffic only street, conveniently located directly in front of our Historical District Hotel that goes by the same name, Hotel Murillo. Tapa’s restaurants are virtually on every corner of downtown Seville. There are fundamentally 3 different tiers of restaurants with the majority falling in the tier 2 level. They all serve the typical Spanish dishes and have fairly similar pricing, something akin to Sushi restaurants that with few exceptions have pricing that is quite similar no matter where you go. I have to say that in my experience this does not hold true for Tapa’s restaurants in the US which are pricier than your typical mid-tier Florida restaurant. I believe that this is due to the fact that in many US “Tapa’s” Restaurants their portions are pretty big and hence the pricing is commensurate with the size of the serving which then ceases to be a Tapa (Tapa-basically means small portion). Many of the Tapa’s restaurants in Spain are in very old historic buildings that are usually quite beautiful, so you not only get to enjoy a good meal but a piece of History. Below are the photo’s of the dishes we enjoyed in El Rincon, Gambas al Ajillo (shrimp in garlic) a mushroom risotto and a Octopus (Pulpo a la Gallega) on a bed of potatoes in olive oil. The octopus is basically boiled then sauteed in olive oil and sprinkled with Paprika. The shrimp as you can tell from the picture are very small but prepared in typical fashion which is basically olive oil and garlic and in the best cases with red peppers and sometimes butter in lieu of olive oil. I was surprised that the sizes of the shrimp served in Spain varied greatly (from tiny canned shrimp- to mid size fresh shrimp)-I would suggest that you ask about the shrimp, better yet if possible, I would ask to see the shrimp before ordering. Octopus is Octopus so all you need to know is how it is being prepared and if they know how to cook them they will be very tender and very tasty, as these were. The Mushroom Risotto is a simple dish to make and it can be prepared with various types of mushrooms and garnished with different types of shredded cheese for a distinctive taste.
Outdoor seating and Indoor Area of Rincon del Murillo
1-Gambas al Ajillo, 2-Pulpo a la Gallega 3-Mushroom Risotto
Hotel Murillo located in front of Rincon del Murillo and outdoor seating area