Sometimes, in the middle of the most touristy areas, you come across a gem. I stumbled upon one recently in the Belém area of Lisbon on a glorious Sunday afternoon. After visiting the magnificent Jerónimos Monastery, my friends and I were despairing at the prospect of eating in one of the nearby touristy restaurants.
The nicest of the bunch had many Portuguese families enjoying a leisurely Sunday lunch, and I couldn’t believe our luck when a table for three suddenly freed up on the restaurant’s outdoor terrace overlooking a park. I did not spend much time perusing the badly translated menu, but rather spent more time observing what my neighbors were eating.
This technique paid off when two of us ordered a Lisbon classic, seafood and rice stew. Served piping hot in a lovely casserole, it was simple and simply delicious. Rice, gilthead fish and shrimp were all cooked together in a sauce of tomato, garlic, red pimento and cilantro, with just a touch of saffron to bind the dish together. The consistency of the dish was perfect, as was the temperature, the cooking and the seasoning. The best proof was the silence around the table, as we practically gobbled the dish up. A perfect Sunday lunch in Lisbon.