Restaurante a Peixaria, Sao Jacinto, Portugal

Next, we were heading down towards Lisbon, stopping 45 minutes north in Ericeira. But one of Andre’s friends had told us about Sao Jacinto, a small town just south of Porto, that was worth checking out, so we detoured there for lunch and a walk on the beach before heading further south.

Sao Jacinto is based on a peninsula that is similar to Cap Ferret on the Basin d’Arcachon. Sao Jacinto is on the end of the peninsula, and like Cap Ferret, has a bay side and ocean side to the town.

Again, not knowing anything about it, we went on Google maps to find a place to eat, and really hit a home run! When we arrived at Restaurante a Peixaria, it was heaving and had a long queue waiting outside. When we finally got the waitress’s attention to put our name down, we asked if we could sit at the bar, and she sat us right down. Great!

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Outside, while we were waiting, we watched the chef prepare and grill the squid that everyone seemed to be having…

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Look at that, how could you not want to taste it?!

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So we ordered some squid and some of the fresh prawns on the specials board… These were just off the boat fresh, still slightly crunchy and tough to take the shells off (I ate a lot of shell out of laziness… but it’s good for calcium, right?!), these little guys were delicious.

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Then came the calamari with some sides, and a nice salad wash it all down… we did a pretty good job with all of the food, and were licking our fingers at the end… it was all so good, and we didn’t feel like we were going to explode afterwards!

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A little bar-side selfie… and then off to the beach for a walk in the sand, before we headed back to the car and down to Ericeira.

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Lamego Hotel and Life, Lamego, Portugal

The next stop on our trip was to wine country, the Douro Valley. We stayed at the Lamego Hotel, which is a large, modern concrete building (that surprised us when we arrived), but apart from that, a great place. The rooms are comfortable, there’s an extensive breakfast buffet, and a lovely pool area that we spent quite a lot of time frequenting. (As a quick side note, they have their own winery, Quinta Branca, whose red and white wine is quite good).

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The pool has its own bar area, where we decided to grab lunch the first day… knowing we were going to have a huge dinner (at the Pacheca Winery… it was delicious), we took it easy for lunch and grabbed some basics. As the pool menu mostly has sandwiches and burgers, it was slim pickings, but we managed…

We went for the grilled prawns, which were cooked in their juice with some spring onion… These were pretty good, as were the juices, which we sopped up with some bread. We had also asked for as simple a salad as they could make us… and ended up with some shredded lettuce (maybe what is usually put on the burgers?) and tomatoes. The tomatoes were small and bursting with flavour.

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That afternoon, we headed to Pinhao to check out some of the wineries (and the view… the drive along the Douro Valley between Lamego and Pinhao is supposedly one of the most beautiful in the world!)

After a bit of white wine and white Porto tasting at the Quinta do Bomfim (as you can see, we took advantage of their cheese plate as well!)

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we headed back down the river and chased the sunset, heading to a fantastic dinner in the green room at the Quinta da Pacheca (which also has a great-looking hotel).

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Chez Lapin, Porto

In late August, we took two weeks off and headed to Portugal. We arrived in Porto with the idea of driving to the wine country, then down to Lisbon, stopping to discover on the way!

I had never been to Porto before and loved it – smaller than Lisbon, it is also quite hilly, with small, winding streets and fantastic views. But what really got me are the buildings stacked on top of each other, where it looks like people added a floor at a time, squeezing them in between other structures bit by bit.

After a long morning of walking around, we were hot (in the 35 degree weather) and hungry. We stopped at one of the many restaurants down on the river and chose blindly, as none of them have good ratings on Google maps!

Chez Lapin did the job. We had to wait a while to get the waiter’s attention to order and even longer for our food, but we had water, bread, and a place to sit in the shade, so it was all fine!

The food itself was basic but good, we had the cod bolinhos, some tomato salad, a green salad (with oranges… all of their salads had oranges, including mixes that really didn’t need or want them!)… and we shared an order of sardines.

The sardines were nicely seasoned and slightly charred from being grilled… with lots of onions and boiled potatoes, they hit the spot.

The meal was perfect for the heat, and off we went again afterwards, this time to climb to get the ultimate view of the city.

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Chez Hortense, Cap Ferret, France

In Cap Ferret for a birthday weekend, and after some crazy traveling plans and rearranging of flights, rental cars and trains, we made it for the birthday on Saturday night! As we had missed Friday night, we missed the dinner at Chez Hortense, so decided to check it out for lunch on Sunday.

Situated on the bay, with a view of the Dune du Pilat across the bay, Chez Hortense is very low-key, all wooden tables and painted in dark green, but it’s the place to be for seafood on a Sunday at lunchtime!

We had plans to meet friends there for lunch, walked in… and saw everyone else that had been at the party on Saturday night! Great minds think alike!

So while people order all sorts of beautiful seafood and fish at Chez Hortense, the real specialty is the mussels. So, we ordered mussels and fries for three, and Jean had the turbot (which was also very good).

The mussels show up and look like they’re topped wtih shallots, garlic, and something a bit meaty tasting, but I couldn’t put my finger exactly on what. It turns out that they’re cooked with Bayonne ham, sausage meat, breadcrumbs, parsley and white wine, along with that garlic and shallots!

And oh, wow, what a taste. See that mound of mussels on the table? When it showed up, I didn’t think it would be enough for three people… turns out we ate about half of it, as it’s quite a generous portion.

We left Cap Ferret that evening with me dreaming of the mussels at Chez Hortense… I can’t wait to go back! A little aperitf at one of the mussel shacks, then biking over to Chez Hortense… the summer holiday dream!

Whitstable Cafe and Kitchen, Whitstable

The Sunday morning in Whitstable, we rent bikes and decide to go for a long ride along the water. We stop by one of the grocery stores, but everything is bought already (its one of those kinds of weekends!) and so we head ot the Cafe and Kitchen to see if they’ll make take-away sandwiches for us.

The Cafe itself is very cute, with a big room in the back, and little seats in the front room. They serve everything from quiches, sandwiches and salads, to heavier main dishes.

We each went for the sandwiches, as they were the easiest to carry out. I got a roast chicken, tomato and avocado sandwich on sourdough bread. The creamy avocado made it just good enough.

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This is how Andre feels about his sandwich… he got the Coronation chicken sandwich, which was basically curried chicken on sourdough… no raisins, nothing else… pretty unexciting.

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So, back in Whitstable, perhaps we would try out the quiches or main dishes the Cafe has to offer, but we certainly would not come back for a sandwich, as we found them quite basic, not very tasty, and quite pricey for what they were!

Byzantium Beach, Tinos, Greece

Second day of the mini-moon, we stayed near our hotel in Agios Sostis and decided to take it easy… for lunch, we walked all the way to the other side of the bay (maybe a 20 minute walk) to Byzantium Beach Club. They had a number of beach beds, a few tables, and a large menu… so we decided to give it a try!

We started looking at the menu, and they didn’t have half of the line items… but we managed to find a pretty good selection to order anyway.

We started with… yes, another Greek salad. Fresh tomatoes, sharp red onion, briny olives, cooling olives… a winning dish.Then, the aubergine, covered in tomato sauce and Parmesan… basically, an eggplant Parmesan – with basic tomato sauce and tons of grated cheese, it was fine, but nothing special.

Then, the grilled sardines… a generous serving, they were plentiful and nicely char-grilled. Again, these were fine but nothing to write home about, the grilling gave them a nice, crackly flavour outside, but they weren’t seasoned with anything more than parsley, and it wasn’t enough. 

Afterwards, I grabbed an espresso to wash it all down, and they brought us a homemade dessert that the waiter said was his grandmother’s recipe. It was basically orange rind in honey, but it was candied and tender while still being slightly tangy… with a nice bit of honey on top- spot on, and delicious. I spent the next few minutes trying to figure out how I could make this at home!

So would we come back? Yes, but hoping that more of the choices on the menu were available during high season, as it was really slim pickings. And everything we ate was fine, but nothing was out of this world… except for the free dessert!

That said, we may come back just for the beach chairs and atmosphere on the quiet bay…

Tarsanas, Tinos, Greece

That night, we tried out a restaurant in town that had many good reviews, and we weren’t disappointed. Tarsanas is located slightly off from the main port of Tinos but still on the water. As it was very windy, they hadn’t kept any tables outside, so we were all indoors, and the atmosphere was lovely. A mix of locals, young and old, along with tourists, some chilled music and great decorations (check out this painter!) made for a great environment.

Andre tried the local beer, which he really liked… And once again, we ordered a feast. We started off with some grilled, local cheese (not haloumi) that was served with a delicious tomato jam (the jam was more revolutionary to us than the cheese, but both were good).

Then, a good classic, a Greek salad, which as you can see was served to us in a HUGE bowl… again, after these two dishes, we would have probably had enough to eat. But no, we ordered on…

The grilled, local sausage. This was also a generous portion, as we were expecting maybe a 1/6 of this. It was nicely grilled, had the same texture as a saucisse de Toulouse but a taste closer to a Corsican figatel. A mix of Andre and I, go figure 🙂 We managed to eat this whole plate.

And then, some fresh fish (again, we thought that we were under-ordering by just getting starters…) The fish was very fresh and perfectly cooked… but the real winner?

The accompanying rice, mixed with dill, charred spring onions, and probably a lot of butter. It was delicious and addictive. Even after everything else that we ate for dinner, we managed to wolf down this rice… and I can’t wait to make it again at home! What a great meal…