Yesterday we visited Feira da Ladra, The Thieves Market- thus named because of the probably illegitimate acquisition of most of the wares. Some stalls were just a blanket on the ground piled with cast off items, while others were tables piled high with antique religious collectibles, chandelier crystals, rusted keys, canceled stamps, and boxes of dice. It was like a giant book of I spy…. the tables seemed to go on forever, every stall a new page.
We bought a handful of glass droplets, which will look like dewdrops on our giant Christmas tree, and an antique azulejo, a tile from an old building. (Click to read a post on my family’s blog about Lisbon and azulejos)
By the time we finished at the market it was already 1 or 2 pm so we were ready for some lunch. We ended up going to a hole in the wall place full of locals (a good sign) and ordering a black pork, baked codfish, and omelet. The fish was terrible and the omelet was not very good, but the pork was salty and tender, served with buttery rice and a wedge of lemon. My conclusions: 1) Do not get fish from a random hole in the wall (unless it’s down by the water) 2) Do get black pork if you go to a hole in the wall because it will probably be good.
Afterwards we headed to two more pastelarias to continue our pastel de nata food quest, São Nicolau Cafeteria (a touristy place) and Confeitaria Nacional- the oldest pastelaria in Lisbon (more than 180 years old!). So far Confeitaria Nacional has the best pastel de nata of all, however I like the small size the best (maybe 1 and 1/2 inches in diameter) and they only had the large ones while we were there. We also tried their signature bunny rabbit pastry, a sponge cake topped with a really yolk-ey pastry cream with two almonds for ears, and the whole thing covered in a hard, crunchy sugar coating. It was really adorable, but the pastry cream topping was a little too weird for me! We did like the other treats we had there though. We have a few more pastelarias to visit before we decide on the grand champion of the pastel de nata food quest!
I forgot to write about our amazing dinner on Monday! We went to a place called A Travessa- an old, rustic, warm brick building filled with flickering candlelight, and delicious scents of cooking food. We were lucky to be seated in the front of the restaurant where it was quieter, because in the main dining area there were wooden tables lined with benches and pretty loud, enthusiastic diners. Right away, we were served bread and 4 different appetizers, my favorite of which was a fried goat cheese and wonton wrapper parcel served with pumpkin jelly. We had no idea whether there was a set menu or not, and without seeing one, we were served the next dish- scrambled eggs with wild mushrooms. That was amazing. The second dish was my favorite, and we actually asked for seconds because it was so incredible. The waitress brought out a large, crispy piece of black pork on a wooden board and sliced it very thin before serving it to us. It was so juicy and delicious! Better than bacon. Seriously.
It was really exciting because we didn’t know what dish was coming next, or which one was the last. All we knew was that it tasted amazing! After many more dishes, we were finally presented with the menu (we then learned that all the dishes were the starters!) so we could choose our mains. We ordered a bull fillet, john dory, and a pheasant pastry. The bull was very, rare and so tender and juicy. I liked the fish the best. It was salty and flaky topped with morel mushrooms. Overall, it was an incredibly delicious dinner. I would go to A Travessa for the ambiance, and delicious Portuguese inspired food.