Tao Tao Ju, Soho

Trying out another dim sum venue in Chinatown… this time, as I had already discovered the wonder that is a meat croquette, I decided to try it elsewhere than at Plum Valley… unfortunately, the taste was not as good as that one, as this croquette was much more batter, with more of an oily taste, and less meat. Then, the crispy bean curd rolls filled with prawn… pretty good, as to be expected.

The steamed prawn with chives dumplings were also as expected, packed with fresh chives that gave them a very great taste, nicely complementing the prawn…

And finally, the glutinous rice, with pieces of pork and chicken,egg yolk, and mushroom. Again, this was par for the course, but in a “good enough” way. The first two dishes, the bean curd rolls and the meat croquette, were just okay, but the more traditional glutinous rice and prawn/chive dumplings were quite good… not sure that this would be my first place to come back to in Chinatown, but it did the job.

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Go Natural, Lisbon

Another lunch spot… this one looks more fast-food than the other places we’ve been lately, because of the menu above the ordering till, with pictures of the food (McDonald’s style!) But the food is quite good, so worth a visit.Andre had the cevhiche bowl with oatmeal, mango, and avocado, doused in lemon juice. I tasted this, but was happier with my choice…  I went for the salad of Thai chicken and rice, served wtih roast vegetables (sweet potato, bok coy and mushrooms), avocado, and some dried fruit, all mixed into a coconut sauce… delicious!But they were both good, cheap, and a wholesome meal… while the atmosphere leaves something to be desired, it’s central (in Chiado), the price is right,  and you leave feeling satisfied!

Tease, Lisbon

In the spirit of trying out different lunch places that the regular cafes (Kristof, The Mill, Brooklyn), we went to Tease, a new cafe on a small square with… this was the key… outdoor seating! There’s a large inside, along with a number of outdoor tables as well.

They’re open from breakfast and make a mean lemonnade… but after noon, we were getting a bit hungry and decided to try the lunch menu. There are a number of salads, sandwiches, and tartes to choose from.

Andre went for the vegetable quiche, which was full of delicious veggies and served with a side salad.

They only had one piece left, so I decided to try one of the sandwiches, the Vegetarian, which was filled with delicious veggies such as spinach, a tomatoey pepper spread, and black beans. It was pretty good, especially toasted!

While there was nothing especially great about Tease (oh, and actually, the coffee really leaves something to be desired), the outdoor seating and sandwiches mean that I’ll probably come back and try a few other options sometime soon.

Tartaruga Cafe, Praia Nova, Portugal

The next day, we went back to the beach a bit later and Andre hopped onto his kite. I was starving, so grabbed some food before heading to the beach. I wanted something a little less formal than the day before, so headed to the next cafe on the beach… and got a much lower-key option for sure!They have many sandiwches and burgers on the menu, along with a few salads… I went for the shrimp salad, which included bundle-fried shrimp on a bed of feta, corn, carrot, tomatoes and salad. And was I satisfied? Well, I felt a bit greasy after the shrimp (fried) and potato chips, even if they were surrounded with greens… but this was a good option for a quick lunch rather than a long, drawn-out sitdown lunch.

Later in the, we went to the newly reopened Botanical Gardens in Principe Real. Ever since my first time in Lisbon with Andre in 2016, I had been waiting for these reopen… two years later, they have, and the trees are amazing. Many are quite prehistoric-looking…

A great place to sit out and enjoy some quiet in the bustling city…

Casablanca, Praia Nova, Portugal

Then, a few days of working from Lisbon… towards mid-afternoon, we headed out to a nearby beach (in Caparica, 30 mins from Lisbon) for a late lunch and some kite-surfing for Andre. Though the weather was not really cooperating…

Check out how white the beach/area is… though maybe the clouds have something to do with it too?

We were some of the only people there for lunch, as it was the first week back to school!

As elsewhere in Portugal, we started with a few of their covers… cold, herbed octopus salad (yum), some olives, and some hot-cooked chorizo. The chorizo was quite oily, but really nice warmed up.

Then, we went for the crab… what a nice presentation! It came with bits to crack and pick out the meat from the legs. The meat was sweet and flaky and juicy, a real treat. Then, the dark meat that was in the head of the crab was the second part of the meal, spread over the little toasts that it was served with… an aesthetic dish that tasted just as good as it looked!

And, dessert. There were a bunch of fancy desserts on the menu, but all we wanted was icecream…

We tried a few places along the beach here, and this was the best to date… with prices for fish (per kilo) much cheaper than in Comporta, Ericeira, Cascais… so if nothing else, we’ll be back for the turbot and seabass (and that amazing crab again, mmm…)

Porto Santana, Alcacer do Sal, Portugal

The second day in Comporta, the weather wasn’t very good, so instead of heading to the beach, we explored some of the neighbouring towns including Grandolfo and Alcacer do Sal. Alcacer do Sal sits on part of the Troia pensinsula, and the town itself overlooks a river coming from the bay.

We found a lovely, quiet restaurant that was packed full of families on a Sunday. When we sat, we were quickly given the “cover” for the table, a fragrant carrot and dill salad, olives, and a surimi crab dip that Andre turned his nose up at, while I tried a few bites… it was okay.

And the cheese… this cheese was pretty good – it was firm but had a nice, strong taste to it. It was one of our favourites from the trip.

Andre went the healthy route and got the tuna nicoise salad, which was quite oniony, and I must say, quite good. Very fresh, I was slightly jealous when it showed up…

But I wasn’t disappointed with my meal – I went for the seafood stew, which was all sorts of clams, mussels and shrimp cooked in a veggie and tomato broth… the only odd thing was that instead of the typical rice that you would usually get in a stew here, it was served with little macaroni. A lot of them. The stew was good, and there was a decent amount of seafood inside, but it was really overpowered by the macaroni… to the point that I was left with a bowl filled with it when I finished my meal!

The owner of the restaurant came and chatted with us, having already offered us an aperitif at the bar before our meal. He had spent years working in Paris, and had now come back to Alcacer do Sal for a more quiet life. Having tried out other ventures in the area, the restaurant is now his main business.

After lunch, we crossed the river to discover the town, walking up the winding roads to the old castle and look-out point. Given its proximity to Comporta, we were surprised at how quiet the town was on a Sunday in late August… was it the time of day? Were people on holiday elsewhere?

O Diniz, Comporta Beach, Portugal

Driving over the bridge and down through Setubal, we arrived to another peninsula, this time, that of Troia and Comporta. (yes, the below is the bridge in Lisbon, not the Golden Gate Bridge!)

Comporta is one of those towns near Lisbon that you might have heard people talking about more and more over the past few years – it’s a beachtown in the pines that looks like the East Coast of the US, with big sand dunes. A lot of the French who have moved to Lisbon like it and have congregated there in the summers, so you’re just as likely to run into French people as Portuguese there!

We took a friend’s recommendation and headed to O Diniz for lunch the first day.

We started with everything they give you as table starters… in this case, olives, cheese, and a tuna pate. There’s something slightly annoying about how you get twenty different “covers” to start your meal in Portugal (and are exepcted to pay for any that you touch), but at the same time, not being there often, it’s fun to try different cheeses, pates, etc at each meal.

Then, our main meal, a mixed salad and some grilled sardines. Slightly charred with flaky skin, but tender and moist inside, these guys hit the spot (along with a good dose of fresh onion!)

Other people had ordered other fish, including large turbot and sea bass… overall, the seafood looked excellent!

After this, we made our way to the beach (pretty empty for late August, isn’t it?!) and spent the rest of the afternoon reading and napping…