how to be portuguese, part v

rule number five: drink ginjinha.

ginjinha is a sour cherry liqueur, a typical drink near the square in rossio in lisbon. there's a place called a ginjinha where people get it, served in a small plastic cup, with a few actual cherries in the bottom. it's overwhelming, full of alcohol, and the cherries are practically inedible.

rule number six: eat a lot of fish. and pork. the portuguese diet is full of codfish, sardines, pork, and very few vegetables. and a lot of salt. yes, i tried the codfish. yes, i am happy to be back and eating vegetables; my body really missed them.

how to be portuguese, part iv

rule number four: let the tourists drink alcoholic beverages made of grapes, and then have a beer. apparently, the portuguese don't drink that much port; it's mostly leftover from when the british had a lot of influence, hence the names of many of the cellars: taylor, croft, sandeman.

don't get me wrong, i drank quite a few beers. but, in porto, there was quite a bit of port.
port wine comes in many varieties: tawny, ruby, colheita, vintage, late bottle vintage (LBV), even white. the whites were incredible, potentially the best of the bunch, though i loved the LBVs as well. apparently, portugal does not export many of its wines; they are an exclusive treat to be had only within the country. and while port is usually an after-dinner drink, the white ports are typically apéritifs.
the vineyards are not in porto, and the the cellars (caves) are across the river in the vila nova de gaia. the vineyards are far up the river.

the caves mostly looked the same, but varied in size and type of ports. the barrels are enormous.
the instituto do vinho do porto regulates the wine and promotes the industry.

while i thought sandeman had the worst ports of those i tasted, this is pretty good image of the extensiveness of the area.
vintage wines are named for the year they were made; usually, there are only a few per decade. they must be stored sideways, as they are unfiltered. they also must be decanted.
i wish i had found this wine shop/bar, vinologica, sooner. it had a really impressive menu of bottles to try.

how to be portuguese, part iii

rule number three: like really old things.

(i know you are thinking, this is a blog about food. like, what is she doing? but, to know the visit is to know the food and everything else. it all leads into the wine, i swear.)

sé de lisboa. the oldest cathedral in the city, built in 1147.
there's a cloister in the back. and an excavation. apparently they have found proof of things centuries older than the cathedral itself.
castelo de são jorge. fortified (as shown by the cannon) castle high above lisbon.

monasterio de jerónimos, in belém, west of lisbon. created in the manueline style. includes vasco da gama's tomb, or so they say.
museu arqueológico do carmo, lisbon. once a church, now a museum of archaeology.
i ventured to sintra, which was truly beautiful. first, i visited the palacio nacional, but then took a very windy bus ride up to the palacio & park da pena.
it was so far north that i was in the fog.

and, oh, the portuguese love these blue tiles. they are everywhere. there's even a museum dedicated to them.
ok. onto the wine. the port.

how to be portuguese, part ii

rule number two: live in a hilly city with various forms of transportation. especially enjoy elevators and funiculars.

stairway, lisbon, alfama. alfama is the hilliest neighborhood, where fado music originated. (this is why the portuguese can eat all those pastries.)
elevador da santa justa, lisbon. designed by a student of gustave eiffel. very charlie and the great glass elevator, but not quick enough to break through the top. there are 4 elevators.
river douro, porto. it used to be that the casks of wine traveled on boats from the valley to city. now, they use trucks. the boats are for show. for the tourists. also, the portuguese are very proud of henry the navigator and travels westward to the americas.
funicular dos guindais, porto. ludo will tell you that i love a funicular. it's an easy way to travel to a much higher point in the city without walking. it is part of porto's public transit system. this photograph was taken from inside the funicular.
and, we have almost reached the top. it's a very steep funicular.
buses, everywhere. this is lisbon.
but there are trains and trams, too. so san francisco.

how to be portuguese

rule number one: eat pastries.

the portuguese love pastries. every few steps in portugal lies a pastelaria or a confeitaria. they are huge fans of sugary, bready delights with powdered sugar or custard or powdered sugar and custard. you can get a pastry and an espresso for less than $2.
pastry 1: lisbon, cake partially covered in chocolate with apricot jam filling

pastry 2: sintra, queijada. this is what they are known for in sintra. it's almost like a tart, with a thin crust and sugary cheese filling.
pastry 3: lisbon, puffy brioche-like pastry covered in powdered sugar.
pastry 4: porto, similar to pastry 3 but with custard inside. EVERYONE sells these. they are in all of the shop windows. it came from a place called pastelaria basptista. i like to think it was a religious act to eat it.


did it.

i joined a csa. it's in dumbo, which is a bit of a hike, but i received no response from the carroll gardens csa. so, there you have it. we'll also be getting a fruit share, in addition to the vegetables. starts june 8th. ready.

the return.

before i get to the details on portugal, it must be noted that i returned to an almost-empty refrigerator. even my roommates had almost no food in there. i did have, luckily, the eggs! and some random small potatoes and half of a loaf of grainy bread.

yesterday's breakfast: egg salad on toast with roasted potatoes. and coffee. but that's a given.

i was the winner.

the night before she went to houston, tracy called me to ask if i would be home when she got there. "yes," i said, "but why?" she was bringing dessert. from momofuku. YES.

it's called crack pie. and is buttery, sugary heaven. you know you want it.

let's start with the eggs.

one of my students gave me a bakers' dozen of eggs from the north fork egg farm: many, many sizes and shades. beautiful. i was concerned about the fact that i was leaving town for a week, but they keep for 4-5 weeks. rock.

i was especially excited about the teeny ones. you can see the smallest (4th) yolk towards the bottom of the bowl. (these eggs became breakfast tacos.) additionally, i had to explain to some of the kids that hens hatch eggs that will not become chickens, which was oddly surprising to them. i really think they hadn't thought it all the way through. i told the kids that the eggs in the grocery were like chicken periods; i might have turned some of them off eggs forever. sometimes honesty just grosses them out.

again, thank you, colin, for the eggs.


on a jet plane.

i am heading to houston for hanane's wedding on saturday and convinced myself not to buy too many groceries this week. it became increasingly and unfortunately difficult to prepare meals, as items stopped complementing each other. there seemed to be an incredibly random mix of goods in the drawer and tonight's meal was quite representative of that erraticism.

short-grain brown rice, purple and yellow small potatoes, black beans with pak choi, asparagus, and onion, with a fried egg on top.

it was shockingly awesome, full of a variety of textures and flavors. mmm.

cake crisis.

i had planned to make a vanilla cake with buttercream icing and strawberries for jordan's 1st birthday. and then, saturday morning came, and i could not find my 9-inch cake pans. crisis.

why? no stores near my house to buy baking supplies. you'd think i was still in harlem.

luckily, courtney said it was ok to make cupcakes instead; of course i could find the materials necessary for those. and i have a carrying case. yes. i consulted the baker's field guide to cupcakes to find some quick recipes. they were so easy to understand, required no weird ingredients or double-boiling, and i could make tacos while the cake part was in the oven.

chocolate and vanilla cake with sugary-buttery vanilla icing and pink sprinkles. 'cause i am under the impression jordan likes pink.

better late than never.

the nytimes published an article this morning about breakfast tacos in austin. it was like the author went down there, *discovered* them, and came back and wrote an article about this indigenous food that austinites eat, never realizing that transplants like myself have been cooking them at home for YEARS, because no one here makes them. or makes them well.

my brother is actually an excellent taco maker, though his are more like burritos.

coincidentally, tracy and i ate tacos last saturday morning before i made jordan's cupcakes. flour tortillas filled with scrambled eggs, cayenne black beans, onion, avocado, tomato, monterey jack, and salsa. with a side of grilled garlic potatoes in a variety of colors. take that, new york. maybe it's time i start my own breakfast taco spot.


a miniature catalog of notions.

1. i want there to be a song about abilene like maybellene. but there's not. after tracy and i returned from our texas independence day drinks, i ate this seemingly boring meal. but it was not: half fried egg sandwich (on a weeknight!) and a pile of steamed broccoli. (the broccoli, i have just learned, can be steamed in the microwave. less energy than heating on the stove.)
2. the atlantic wrote a great article comparing whole foods to wal-mart. terrifying. from all directions. mostly, i don't want to shop in either place.
3. i attended a food conference last saturday: footprint. it was overwhelmingly busy, and so i only stayed for one panel (culinary cartography). overall, it was really exciting to see that there are so many new yorkers interested in the same ideas as myself--wanting to learn more about the production and distribution, economics, social aspects, science, and policy of food and drink.
4. there's a tomato shortage (due to a frozen south) and a recall for so many random items that i do not even want to type a list.
5. tonight's dinner: spicy chickpeas, garlicky asparagus with onion and pak-choi, steamed broccoli, and a salad of carrots, tomatoes, and avocado. why is the photograph blurry? no idea, but i am not posting it.
6. yelena gave me a punch bowl with matching punch cups for my birthday. i want to make a new punch, and a smith island cake. and then have people come over. to consume both.
7. i am going to make jordan's birthday cake tomorrow. can you believe she's a year old? i am thinking vanilla cake with buttercream icing and strawberries. sounds good, right?

ri-CAH-ta or ri-COH-ta

when you buy the fresh ricotta, you have to use it quickly. damn you, perishable foods.

so i ate a lot of pasta while i had the ricotta. it's so good and creamy and just faultless. this was a tasty dish, potentially the easiest i had made in a while.
1. cook pasta according to instructions. (i used organic whole wheat. i don't tend to buy the whole wheat, but i am attempting to branch out.)
2. chop a bunch of small tomatoes and basil.
3. drain pasta. mix with helping spoonfuls of ricotta.
4. add in basil and tomatoes. crush black pepper over the whole and add a shake or two of sea salt, to taste.
5. mix gently.
6. eat.

ending february.

we know that weekend breakfasts are my favorite meals of the week. as february came to a close, i made this morning meal: toasted organic sourdough with a fried egg and tomato, garlic potatoes (red and white), roasted asparagus, and slices of yellow bell pepper.


the eyes of texas.

it's texas independence day. and sam houston's birthday. and the texas primary. all in all, i want a lone star.

postscript: there was no lone star at the bar, perfectly named abilene. but there were fried pickles and carrots!



have i mentioned that i love remedy quarterly? and that i backed them on kickstarter?

well, remedy quarterly is this awesome little magazine put together by some brooklynites and contains food stories and remedies of sorts. today, i learned on twitter that the magazine was seeking remedies for hangovers, so i submitted my favorite: a can of dr pepper and potato chips. i will continue to believe that this is the ideal remedy for everyone, not just me.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...