15 Foods you have to eat in Portugal

I love Portugal, it is the half of my heritage I am most in tune with and that my stomach absolutely loves. The food in Portugal is beyond anything you can imagine, rich, flavoursome and hearty, but always feels like a little taste of home. There are a lot of dishes and sometimes going to a restaurant here can feel completely overwhelming, so from a Tuga (Portuguese!) to you all, here is a list of 15 foods you have to eat in Portugal.

1. Churrasco: FIND ANY CHICKEN PLACE ANYWHERE! We are famous for the way we cook chicken, and if you think Nandos is special… just trust me on this one, any churrascaria where you basically get a huge take away chicken, will blow your mind. And be adventurous with your seasoning, after all this might be your only take away chicken in Portugal.

2. Pasteis de Belem: Only THE MOST FAMOUS cakes in the whole country, the original recipe was created by Catholic nuns and is only entirely known by 3 people in the world at any one time. Like a national secret! You can eat the lesser versions, called Pasteis de Nata, anywhere, but for the original ones make your way to Belem, an area of Lisbon, next to the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos (Jeronimos Monestry).

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3. Ovos moles de Aveiro: Continuing on the streak of desserts, this is one that grew on me as my palate developed throughout the years. Sweet, egg-yolk, wrapped in paper thin wafer in the shape of seashells, these small, romantic bites of heaven hale from Aveiro in the north of the country, and you definitely need to venture there to eat these delicious little bites.

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4. Pasteis de bacalhau: The Portuguese devour cod like no other population I have ever met. We also maintain it in quite a special way which makes it incredibly flavoursome. Pasteis de bacalhau are our own version of fishcakes and you must take the opportunity to delight on these.

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5. Francesinhas: If you think the French know how to present a ham and cheese sandwich, forget about it! The Portuguese re-invented the entire thing by adding layer after layer of cured meat and then topped it up with a booze and spice filled gravy! This is one for a day in which you don’t plan on eating anything else and it is totally worth it. Travel up north to Porto to revel in one of these masterpieces and get ready to feel the food baby.

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6. Polvo a Lagareiro (Octopus): I really cannot discuss Portuguese delicacies without including octopus in a list can I? I am aware it might be an acquired taste, but this is heavenly. Usually it graces Portuguese tables in special occasions and holidays but you are special and you all need to try it!

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7. Feijoada: A black bean and meat stew that gets better and better the further north you go. This one will warm you right up in a cold winter’s night and keep you begging for more. It is incredibly filling but also moreish.

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8. Queijo da Serra (cheese from Serra da Estrela): If you fancy a bit of hiking before delighting on some amazing cheese, then make your way to Serra da Estrela, the highest mountain range in the centre of the country. This cheese is made of sheep’s milk and it packs a punch, with its sharp taste and gooey texture.

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9. Caldeirada de Peixe: With the amount of fish swimming the Portuguese coast, our brilliant cooks decided to grab everything fish related they could get their hands on, shellfish included, shove it in a pot and BOSH! Fish stew! With fresh herbs and tomatoes to give it some flavour, it is delicious and nutritious.

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10. Favas: I know fava beans are green and big and quite ugly looking, but trust me when I say the Portuguese have cracked how to cook these! Mix them up in a stew with pork, chorizo and sausages, season with tomatoes and parsley and it is absolutely divine. Try it if you dare.

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11. Torta de Azeitao: The last of the desserts on this list today, this is another dessert in Portugal that is egg based (believe me, most of them are!). A soft, spongey cake with sweet egg yolk spread on top and rolled into a little bite of perfection. Better yet if you make your way to the centre of the country, in the region of Setubal, to eat the stuff in its own town!

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12. Arroz de Pato: A simple but delicious dish, it is nothing more than a duck risotto with a crispy surface and Portuguese chorizo in the mix to give it some flavour. It is melt in your mouth meat and texture and truly fantastic.

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13. Sardinhas Assadas: This is the last seafood entry on the list, these charcoal grilled sardines are a typical, find it everywhere in the country dish. You can eat it in restaurants, on the street, at festivities, you name it it is there! Served with potatoes, veggies, rice, whatever you fancy we will make it happen.

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14. Alheiras de Mirandela: Okay, truth is you can get Alheiras in other places of the country, however the ones in Mirandela (North!) are famous. A classic Portuguese sausage/chorizo, it is made of pork encased in its natural intestine skin and it is delicious. Typically served with a fried egg and fries, forget the calorie counting for this one.

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15. Cozido a Portuguesa: Last on today’s list but in absolutely no means least, this is the most traditional dish of the country. It combines every single sausage/chorizo de produce, all the meats from beef, to lamb, to pork and poultry, in one huge dish, served with simply boiled vegetables and potatoes with a delicate string of olive oil on it. This is the epitome of Portuguese comfort food. It is filling, delectable and a great dish to eat in a cold winter’s day. This is the Portuguese Sunday Roast!

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There is so much more food in Portugal to try, but this is a list to get you started! Keep an eye out for the beverages/booze you need to try too. I have to say I didn’t realise until I made this list that Portuguese food is so meat heavy, so I apologise in advance if you are a vegetarian, but at least you have cheeses and desserts to try! For now, I leave you here to drool over this incredible food and plan a tour to eat your way across Portugal, my home, my mother land. I hope you have enjoyed this post, please let me know if you would like a few more like this.

For now, keep reading, writing and travelling!

Note: All photos were sourced on Google and they belong to whoever has that copywright. 

The Petroleum Museum

Very few museums in the world leave me completely baffled. Having been to my fair share of art museums/galleries, several similar versions of natural history and science museums and seen a lot of state buildings become history spouting machines, the Petroleum Museum left me truly amazed. Petroleum, as we all know, is the leading industry in the world! It is the highest consumed source of energy and we use it day in day out, so learning a bit more about it in an interactive way is absolutely an experience.

The museum is built on an out of use oil rig and then further expanded. You will start by watching a film about the history of petroleum and how it seems to have become such an essential part of our lives and existence even. Following that, there are several machines that demonstrate the progression of equipment that was used to extract petroleum from the core of our planet, and you can even play on a simulated oil rig! However, most importantly, the museum gives us a true understanding of why we need to find alternative sources of fuel and energy. We are bombarded by this day in day out, and yet we continue to consume. I know it is very far away, but the museum really made me understand it differently and take more notice. However, I am yet left with this feeling of what can I do? I have a car to run and all these other things that demand the consumption of petroleum. I truly hope we find a solution.

The interactive nature of the museum paired with the relevance of the content make it truly incredible and it is an absolute must to visit whilst in Stavanger.

 

What a whale of a time! – Tales of Travel Gone Wrong

I LOVE food! I am a real worldly foodie and am a true believer that tasting the food of country I am visiting is key to immersing myself in the adventure. The culture that comes from food, the history that food possesses. It may seem like I am reading into it but I am not, I know that food and eating habits change historically and it is one certain way to explore the culture.

Now, this was a particularly tricky one for me. Norway is one of the only countries in the world who is still legally allowed to hunt whales. Whaling has been largely banned because of the decreasing number of whales on our oceans, this beautiful creature that is becoming extinct has to stop being sought after for its meat and oil. So bearing these things in mind and the fact that I give to the WWF every month to help protect and rehabilitate a lot of animals, this goes against all my gut instincts to eat whale steak.

How can I, a self admitted lover of animals (except spiders and scorpions, who likes those?!) actually eat a whale? It was a moment of travel exception. I am a true believer that if you are abroad you should fully integrate into the life and culture of that country. We were in the middle of a fish market and whales everywhere, we could not miss out on this opportunity.

Looking back on it now, I feel slightly itchy inside every time I think that I chewed a whale steak and devoured it. I don’t think it will ever happen again. Regardless, it was a fascinating experience and if you ever get the opportunity… try it without any guilt.

Hiking the Ulriken

So the national past time in Norway has to be hiking. 

My partner and I donned our really unfashionable but sturdy hiking boots to trek the Ulriken, a stunning mountain that you can see from the centre of Bergen. The peak is about 645 metres up and the hike takes on various curves that make you fall in love with the shapely mountain.

The trek we took crosses over with some cycle paths, so be sure not to get slammed on by a mountain bike, and it took us around 2 to 2 and a half hours to hike up, with lots of stops for photos, snacks and water breaks. I would also say that the path at times is not very clear, you are pretty much winging your way up the mountain through difficult and ever changing terrain, but it is stunning and totally worth it. It is also the best work out in the world.

Overall, the trek is meant to take around an hour to an hour and a half for those with more experience, know the path and haven’t carried a crappy back pack. I can tell you now, the correct back pack with lumber support is key! Lesson learned. None of this fashionable pretty looking business for any type of trek in the future. Make sure you always take a rain coat of sorts because Norway is temperamental and renowned for having the most consecutive days of rain… 295 in 2015.

This was a fantastic way to break my hiking boots in preparation for the treks in South America. I think it would have been great if the trek was better signed but it was still do-able as you can see the end line throughout the trek. You walk through some really great locations, it is so refreshing and helps clear your mind. You won’t get to see many people on your hike either, but the few you do will be like mountain goats. This is no joke. The national past time must be hiking, they fly up and down the mountain as if they have no fear of falling off the face of the rock. We saw children hiking too! It was amazing, such a healthy way of living and it made me want to do it so much more. Inspiring really.

Once you get to the top enjoy the mesmerising views and make sure you give yourself a well earned sit down, a hot drink and some food. It was just breath taking. After all the sweat, slipping on a few rocks and the heavens opening up and drenching us head to toe, we reached the summit and it was so worth the work. It was the most beautiful experience, and I wish we had had more time to trek other mountains but sadly we did not. I cannot wait for our next Norwegian adventure and to hike some well known paths in Stavanger next time. For now, enjoy some photos of our trek up the Ulriken.

Happy reading, writing and travelling!

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View from the top

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A not so Summery Holiday #Norway

Most people prepare for the incoming Winter with a good minimum of 2 week holiday in some summery destination, soaking up the sunshine and feeling the rays tickle their skin. Not this year. This year was all about the mountains, the hiking and the rain.

For the last five years Norway has been at the top of my bucket list of destinations. I met some phenomenal people from there and had been eager to visit them soon. Luckily, one of my closest friends was getting married there and my partner and I decided to make a holiday of it. We packed our best adventure outfits and our fancy clothes too and off we went.

Norway is a stunning country, with the water paving the picturesque scenery shaped by the fjords and the mountain ranges dropping drastically to the deep blue seas. It is a photo opportunity waiting to be taken every 2 metres you walk. I think we took hundreds of photos of the same mountain, of the same view, getting better each time. Some of the food is amazing, the cakes made me extremely happy, the people were kind and the culture was just incredible. I have to say, it is probably THE MOST expensive place I have ever visited, so either save a lot of money or be prepared to have some really weird meals at a 7/11.

I got to visit the cities of Bergen and Stavanger, both coastal but very different and I cannot wait to share all my experiences with you. Overall, as a far as a summer holiday goes, I loved it! It was adventurous, fun and really different to my usual summer destination so I truly enjoyed it. It was not the first time I have had a cold vacation in the summer and it will certainly not be the last.

So pack your bags and save for months… you have to visit Norway!