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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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…

Ribeira d’Ilhas Surf Restaurant and Bar, Ericeira, Portugal

Ericeira, surf country… 45 minutes from Lisbon, you have a beach town that has high cliffs and rough water, and is perfect for surfing. It attracts surfers from around the world, and lots of Portuguese families.

A few minutes from town is Ribeira d’Ilhas beach, which was recommended to us by a friend who told us it would be more quiet than the others (ie, not packed)… so we went there both days that we were in town. The beach itself is wide and there is tons of room to surf.

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At lunchtime, we didn’t head far, just up to the restaurant located next to the surf schools, and sat on the bean bag chairs. The restaurant was packed because it was vaguely an hour to eat, so we had to wait a bit and keep a sharp eye on who was getting up from their table (the waiter’s service starts once you’re sitting, they don’t help you find a table).

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Then, the menu… it has everything. Salads, sandwiches and burgers, pasta, and even eggs, we were spoilt for choice.

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Andre went for the smoked salmon salad the first day, which had bits of mango in it… and thought it was pretty good.

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I went for the salmon burger, served with a wasabi mayo on the side, a salad, and some pretty good fries… though I learnt that the fries only tasted good when hot… afterwards, they lacked in taste and crunch.

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Happy with our meals, we came back the next day and each had the tuna burger… I think tuna as a fish is easier to keep in a patty (ie, the salmon burger kept crumbing, even in the bun, whereas the tuna burger held up)… but they were much less generous with salad this time around… which we made up for with a nice green juice.

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Overall, this place really hits the spot, you can eat healthfully (ish) if you want, spend as much time as you like sitting around and ordering coffees, drinks, etc (ie, if you aren’t surfing but you’re with someone that is, its a good place to escape the midday sun and hang out), and soak in the vibe of the surfers that have come from all over the globe to test the waves.

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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