Tag Archives: Food

9 Delicious Reasons Why You Should Visit Portugal

You know how it is when you return from a trip and you’ve had the most wonderful time. I keep asking people, “Have you visited Portugal, yet?” The answer I receive most often is “no.” I’m on a roll giving people delicious reasons to make their next vacation spot Portugal. You’d think I worked for the Portuguese Tourist Agency :) I found it EASY to appreciate Portuguese food and wine. And of course pastries, too! So let me see if my delicious reasons sway you.

1. Mom and Pop. If I only had two words to describe the food I enjoyed, I’d say SIMPLE and FRESH. Some people might call it comfort food. I was so surprised and delighted that I could get a delicious, home-cooked meal from any one of the “mom and pop” eateries throughout Lisbon. They were everywhere. Simple and inexpensive I believe as a result of their locally sourced seasonal meat, fish and produce.

2. Licor Beirão. Portugal is known for its wine, and I’d agree; trying some is a must. I flew to Portugal on TAP in business class and my experience with Portuguese liquor started on my flight. The flight attendant asked me if I wanted to try Licor Beirão, the “Liquor of Portugal”, from the central Beiras region. It is made from a secret 100-year old recipe that gives it a delicious sweet, herbal flavor. I always sample digestives when I travel, so why not? The crew gathered and we talked some about Licor Beirao, how to drink it, and that if they ever feel like they are coming down with a cold or flu, they take some Beirao. I decided to have mine over ice, and a little bit goes a long way. I rather enjoyed it! The one drink I didn’t get to try, which I heard will “knock your socks off” was aguardente bagaceira, or Bagaço as it’s commonly called. It’s Portugal’s version of grappa, made from leftover pomace. Pomace is the pulpy residue leftover after crushing fruit. The best Bagaço is said to come from the pomace of Vinho Verde grapes in the northern Minho region and is distilled on an open flame from small wine producers. This method is illegal, so the only way to find it is if you’re in a small, local restaurant where the owner generously pours you a shot from his “unmarked” bottle. Unfortunately, this treat didn’t come my way, but I’ll figure out a way to sample some next time I’m in Portugal! I did find out that you can try Macieira Centenário, which is a legal and respected brand of Bagaco! The other liquor that was popular is ginja. It’s a traditional cherry liquor from the town of Obídos served in a small cup. I like fruity liquors so this one is on the list for next time, as well.

Licor Beirão. Image source: http://www.licorbeirao.com/en/

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Lisbon: The City of Pastry (Part 2)

Most cities are known for something, and for me, forever more, Lisbon will be known as the city of pastry! Is it all about the Pastel de Nata? Not at all, though I sure did enjoy my daily dose of nata :)  If you haven’t already, please read Lisbon: The City of Pastry (Part 1). Pastries were everywhere in Lisbon. I’ve never seen so many pastry shops, pastelarias, and so many different kinds of pastries. The question became how to narrow it down to which ones to sample. I asked some born / raised / and still living in Lisbon friends to narrow it down for me. They suggested these four pastries: Tortas de Azeitão and Amêndoa, Mil Folhas, Jesuítas, and Pastéis de Tentúgal.

Every time I went into a bakery, I asked if they had these four so I could see what they looked like and perhaps try one. Before I tell you about each pastry, how I ranked them, and where I tasted them, here’s a bit of history about the egg-based pastry world of Portugal. It is fascinating and sets the scene for the pastry world you’re about to enter.

After colonizing Brazil and Madeira in the 16th century, Portugal began importing a steady stream of sugar (formerly a luxury destined only for the wealthy) from their plantations abroad. At this time, there happened to also be a large number of convents in Portugal using egg whites to starch their habits. All those elaborately starched wimples meant a lot of nuns with a lot of extra egg yolks. One of those nuns had the brilliant idea of combining the surplus egg yolks with the newly abundant sugar, and the classic eggy, sweet Portuguese convent pastry was born! Yet, despite the regional differences in pastry in Portugal, there is one common theme throughout every pastry in the country: egg yolk. Egg yolk is the magical ingredient that gave birth to Portugal’s famous pastry industry, with each region expressing their own innovative, unique and historical manner in which they use this one ingredient.

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Best Places to Eat on Oahu: Part 2

As I mentioned in Part 1, on my most recent trip to Hawaii, I was curious to see if there had been any additions or changes to the local coffee scene. After all, it has been a while since I wrote about the best places for coffee in Hawaii. There are no newcomers to the coffee scene worth mentioning, however, it is worth noting that Honolulu Coffee Company, which is my favorite, has expanded. They have taken over two spots at the Sheraton in Waikiki that were previously used by Peet’s Coffee. Strange but true, Peet’s Coffee did not make it in Hawaii.

So instead of writing about coffee in Hawaii, I decided to ask some local friends on Oahu what their favorite restaurants were. I’ve lived in Hawaii, so I have a few of my own to mention, but let’s start with their recommendations first. In Part 1, I wrote about restaurants you can walk to if you stay in Waikiki. In Part 2, I’m writing about places outside of Waikiki, so let’s start with Chinatown. One of my friends mentioned how many dining options were cropping up in Chinatown. His two favorites are Senia and Fête. I haven’t tried these two places, but the menus look interesting and creative. Fête calls themselves “part Hawaii and part Brooklyn,” so that certainly sounds appealing :) I do trust my friend’s taste in good eats, so I’m letting you know about these places.

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Best Places to Eat on Oahu: Part 1

On my most recent trip to Hawaii, I was curious to see if there had been any additions or changes to the local coffee scene. After all, it has been a while since I wrote about the best places for coffee in Hawaii. There are no newcomers to the coffee scene worth mentioning, however, it is worth noting that Honolulu Coffee Company, which is my favorite, has expanded. They have taken over two spots at the Sheraton in Waikiki that were previously used by Peet’s Coffee. Strange but true, Peet’s Coffee did not make it in Hawaii.

So instead of writing about coffee in Hawaii, I decided to ask some local friends on Oahu what their favorite restaurants were. I’ve lived in Hawaii, so I have a few of my own to mention, but let’s start with their recommendations first. They did know that I’d be writing about their suggestions, so I asked them to keep in mind that many tourists don’t rent cars if they stay in Waikiki. We took this into account. Let’s start with the restaurants that are easily accessible if you stay in Waikiki.

Diamond Head Grill is for sure a local favorite. There’s not much space to sit and eat there. It’s best to take your food down to the beach or as a picnic in the park. Everyone, including me, loves their plate lunch. And their baked goods are good, too!

Diamond Head Market Grill lunch plate. Image source: https://www.tripadvisor.co.nz/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g60982-d1009927-i153755380-Diamond_Head_Market_Grill-Honolulu_Oahu_Hawaii.html

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The Great Deli Debate: Best Jewish Delis in America

When I wrote the post about Conde Nast Traveler’s top rated zoos, a few friends were surprised because all I seem to talk about is food and coffee! And that’s true, especially since I returned from my last trip to New York City. I talk a lot about Jewish delis. Have you seen the movie Deli Man? I’ve seen it three times. It came out in 2015. It’s funny, it’s poignant, it’s 160 years of history and deli tradition and it makes you REALLY hungry!

My friends were asking me which of my favorite delis were left out of Deli Man, because they couldn’t possibly talk about all the great ones, and it got me wondering. Did anyone have a list of the top 10 delis, as they did about zoos? Yes! Would I agree? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Do I have a few of my own to add to the list? Well, of course :)

Before we get to the lists I found online (Conde Nast Traveler’s: 10 Best Jewish Delis in America), let’s first define, at least a little bit, what makes a Jewish deli a Jewish deli. In the last half of the 19th century and into the 20th century, Jewish immigrants began arriving in the United States, bringing their culture and their food with them.  Wherever they settled, these immigrants opened “delicatessens” that featured the foods they grew up with in Eastern Europe: bagels, pastrami, matzoh ball soup and chopped liver, for example. While you might associate Jewish delis with New York City, there are many delis across the country that serve Jewish-style home cooking.

Certainly a great deli has to have amazing corned beef and pastrami. I’d add that pickles should not be just an afterthought but hold their own in deliciousness. The menu should be extensive, the bread homemade, and a great bakery helps a lot. While these foods might appear on all menus in the Jewish deli food scene, not all delis get it right.

So which delis made the Top Delis in the United States list? A few delis made every list I looked at! Katz’s Deli in NYC always comes up as the number one deli. I was there on my most recent trip to NYC, and for sure, the corned beef was the best I’d tasted in a long, long, long time. It was delicious. The sour pickles were addicting! Katz’s opened in 1888 and is considered an institution. It’s a wild scene at Katz’s and it’s always busy. It’s a fun place to watch what others order and eat, too!

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