the nice thing about porto (and europe in general) is that they are good at using existing spaces instead of tearing stuff down and building new shops. this way a shop can keep it’s old magic that it’s had from the past while still being perfectly functional in 2010.
and the best example is the book store next door where you’ll be temporaily taken to harry potter land.
the most magnificent staircase you’ve ever seen. it curves and splits and converges and spirals and just does it all. at lello & irmão. with a stained glass ceiling to go with it. the first bookstore you’ve been too where you aren’t distracted by the books.
portugal and asia pastry link theory: do you see the egg tart in the bottom left corner? if you are familiar with chinese pastries it should look familiar too. portugal discovered taiwan first, and thus named it formosa, a portuguese word that means “beautiful island.” and you have a feeling that is the reason why the egg custard is such a staple in taiwan and hong kong. and you also notice that the yellow cream you’re tasting so much in portuguese pastries taste exactly like the yellow creams used in taiwanese pastries. hmmmmmmm more research to do!
the architecture in porto is interesting because it’s further north, so the islamic influence isn’t as heavy as it is in the south. in fact, the european presence is stronger. but they are still intertwined. and you love noticing it each time you turn a corner and see something new.
traditionally, porto’s famous port wine is not actually made in porto, but actually from the vineyards just outside of it, and was brought in with these boats, called rabelo boats. but now the only thing they carry now are tourists.
top left: toucinho do céu. an almond cake. heavy on the eggs and nuts, it literally means “bacon from the sky” because it used to be made with bacon lard. today it’s made with almonds, sugar, and egg yolks. it’s very sweet, so that explains why you receive a tiny slice.
top right: some strong hot chocolate.
bottom left: cafe majestic. and it indeed is very majestic.
bottom right: croissant and jam
top left: bacalhau with natas: codfish with cream. because of the cream, your french friend justified the bread because you can’t possibly eat a cream based dish without bread.
bottom two: the francesinha: exactly what you’re thinking. has to be france related somehow… a twist on the french croque-monsieur. except in this version, it is layers of cheese, bread, sausauge, ham, steak, more cheese, and more bread. ooooooh. tasty but that not an everyday meal.
dessert is pudim, basically a flan, and tarte maracuja, a passionfruit tart. you aren’t sure if this spread to or from brazil, but it definitely takes you back to the brazilian desserts you’ve had in texas.
and remember, after heavy dinners, always walk home. just don’t get lost in the streets. not that it’s dangerous or anything, but because everything is uphill or downhill in porto. one wrong turn and you’ll be climbing mountains at midnight, which is not always fun when all you want to do is sleep.