Travel Diaries: Sao Martinho do Porto, Portugal

Over the next few days, I'll be sharing photos and stories about my recent trips to Portugal and Spain. xx
I recently remembered a snippet of conversation I had several years ago with one of my friends. It was one of those long, meandering talks about life and the future that used to happen so often during our college years.

We were--as we usually were--sitting on the carpeted hallway floor sharing a pint of Ben & Jerry's, and talking about travel. Places we'd been. Places we wanted to go to. I don't remember the exact words, but I remember saying something about how I never want to be one of those people who doesn't travel.

"You don't have to worry about that," he assured me. "That'll never be us because it's something that's important to us and so we'll always make it a priority. It'll just be part of our normal."

And in the dozen or so years since, this has definitely proven to be true.

Thanks in no small part to the incredible group of friends I made during those long, ice cream-fueled nights. These amazing people scattered around the country and world, doing awesome things, and every so often, we all meet up in different places to share, eat, and celebrate each other.

This is how we found ourselves spending a week in the Portuguese seaside village of Sao Martinho do Porto; a place I'd never even heard of until my best friend Ilana suggested it as the destination for celebrating her 30th birthday.
Sao Martinho is lovely. It's a quiet, seaside town on the Western coast of Portugal, about 1 hour north of Lisbon.

We rented a 3-bedroom villa for a week, during which we spent our days exploring nearby villages, and our evenings cooking elaborate feasts, drinking wine, and splashing around in the pool.

(Well, my friends splashed in the pool. The water was far too cold for my Latin blood, and so I stayed in the warmth of the sun, tanning, reading, and eating gigantic grapes.)

I really loved the food in Portugal. Simple, but abundant dishes made from freshly-caught seafood dominated the menu, and we indulged liberally.
One of my favorite meals was at a restaurant called Tasca no Cais, where we sat by the water and the waiter brought us the morning's catch to choose from.
We selected a stunning snapper that he brought to the back to grill to prepare for us.

While we waited, we sipped chilled Vinho Verde, and shared a plate of sauteed prawns served in a luscious garlic sauce, that I soaked up with thick pieces of broa--a local yeasted cornbread that I plan to recreate here soon.
We also ate chorizo. Or, rather, chouriço.

Served hot and grilled, it was the first of many (so many) that we would enjoy during our week in Portugal (and subsequent week in Spain).

When the fish was ready, our waiter brought it back to the table, where he filleted it and divided it between us (except Ilana, who does not each fish and instead got an order of incredible piri-piri chicken). 

They also brought out bowls filled with little round potatoes poached in olive oil, french fries, and the most perfect green beans I've ever had in my life.

They were thinly sliced, blanched and tossed with a salty, garlicky oil. I ate nearly the entire bowl myself and have been craving them ever since.
After our meal, we slowly walked back to our house through town, admiring the local architecture and tilework.

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