They say that the Portuguese have 365 recipes for cod, one for each day the year. But Leonal Pereira, chef at the exclusive restaurant Panorama in Lisbon, claims to have created recipe number 366, accompanying the fish with a delicate foam of red wine on potato mousse, and creating a very tempting option for a magical evening in the Saldhana district of the capital.
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Under the historic arcades that ring the famous Praça do Comercio – Commerce Square – stands one of the city's most famous and traditional cafes, Martinho da Arcada. Dating from 1782, the coffee house was a second home to the great twentieth-century poet and literary figure Fernando Pessoa and is an active centre of cultural life as well as being a great place to sample some of Lisbon's traditional dishes, such as Portuguese-style duck with rice, or mushrooms and cream.
The yellow electric trams are one of the icons of Lisbon and a perfect way of getting around the steep central area of the city. Taking the famous tram 28 is like travelling back in time, and at the end of the route you have the chance to discover Faz Figura, a restaurant where the tempting menu offers such treats as soup with prawns, or
octopus in a corn crust.
Near to the Jeronimos Monastery, former home to the Order of the Hieronymites in the district of Belem – the Portuguese name for Bethlehem – is the home of one of the most coveted secrets of Lisbon: the recipe for the typical pastel de Belem, said to be known to only three people in the world. In the ancient Belem bakery you can sample these sweet egg-custard tarts that tradition says should be eaten in pairs.
The old Santo Amaro Docks provide one of the most romantic walks of the Portuguese capital and are a veritable melting pot of culinary trends that simmer in the numerous refurbished and re-invented warehouses to be found in the area. Among the many popular hot spots, the Bica do Sapato, owned by John Malkovich and located in an old warehouse next to the Alcantara Mar station boasts both a luxury restaurant and a sushi bar with modern ambience and serves the most cosmopolitan cuisine.
Of course, Lisbon is only the start of your gastronomic exploration. If you have time, just a couple of hours drive from the capital, out in the Portuguese countryside, you'll find the small town of Tomar. Here, the restaurant Chico Elias serves a range of traditional local dishes including petingas no forno (oven-baked sardines), beans with snails, blood sausage, cod, roast kid... the menu of this cosy traditional inn is full of tempting ideas.