02 August 2010

the s’s of porto: sunny, sweet, sugary, staircases, and stuffed

port27every morning in portugal begins with your face pressed up against some windows faced with the difficult task of decision making.

port28 so many choices. only one stomach. but you’re always happy with what you select and of course enjoy it in direct sunlight.

port29some shopping. in a shop that uses this old and beautiful cash register. things back then really were made to last…

port30you visit a church. but here in porto, they really hate tourists and they shoo you out…

port31retail. you love stores with high ceilings, wooden floors, and grand staircases.

port32especially when they sell nicely spaced items that includes a lot of stationary.

port33the 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.

port34the 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.

port35you head to the market. but you’re a bit tired of the usual photos of strawberries, onions, apples, etc. and instead you’re attracted to the details of the market itself.

port36portugal pastry theory #1: because of how sunny the weather is in portugal, their pastries in turn use a lot of yellow in their goods. every window you pass by is always full of yellows.

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!

port37you just can’t avoid yellow in portugal.

port38or blue, for that matter.

port39quick obligatory peek into a church, and then off to more exploring.

port40the 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.

port41traditionally, 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.

port42afternoon tea break…

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

port43the usual wait for the sunset. and you know what happens next once that sun goes down: dinner!

port44it is probably just as unhealthy as it looks….

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.

port45dessert 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.

port46and 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.


Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

I am drooling! Those pastries look so irresistibel. I love Portugese baked goods.

Great architecture and decorations.



s a r a said...

Nice post! I've never been to Porto. I have to show my boyfriend this. By the way, we found Portugese pastries in Japan too: pastel de nata.

I agree with you, all the pastries in the windows are yellow in Portugal. Every time I asked what something was made of they said "Eggs and sugar and a little bit of almonds".