this is the archive for the ‘foooood’ category:

pão de rala

one of the good things of going all the way to the top of alentejo for the boy’s flight, was the opportunity to visit évora, an oasis of history and culture in the middle of the region’s golden prairies. naturally, we couldn’t let the occasion pass without trying some pão de rala — a cake that the nuns in a local convent used to make. it’s a rather deceptive cake, as it looks just like bread and olives from the outside…

pão de rala

… but when you break it open…

pão de rala

… magic! :D the little “olives” are made of marzipan and cocoa, and the bread’s filling consists of tons of egg yolks, sugar, almonds and chila (fig-leaf gourd).

as you would expect, it was a-ma-zing, really delicate and soft… though a bit on the heavy size, as sweets go. ahem. turns out, in our naive enthusiasm, we bought a whole pão de rala, which i suspect was meant to be shared with a group of people.

“perhaps a small slice would have been a more sensible portion”, said the boy.

pão de rala

i regret nothing! :)

what we ate in iceland

hey, it’s been a while since i did one of these food recaps (like budapest, paris, or london), so here we go — let’s talk about food in iceland. and there’s a lot to talk about!

first off, the quirky stuff: dried fish, slathered with butter. no, seriously! :) it’s an icelandic snack that resembles a bit our salt-dried cod fish, but with much less salt and with a healthy dose of butter on top. it takes a bit of getting used to, but it’s surprisingly nice… and probably healthier than toast + butter.

driedfish IMG_3271

we got the fish at kolaportid flea market, which has a nice food-section. in it, we also discovered the best ryebread we’ve ever tasted:
delightfully dense but not dry, with a hint of sweetness, lovely with butter! we read somewhere that it used to be cooked by burying it in the ground near hot springs… though probably not anymore. :)


the hot dogs everyone mentioned were tasty and made for a cheap snack… hurray for cheap snacks — iceland is very expensive, as we quickly discovered…


the last time we ate open sandwiches we were in copenhagen, i think… i don’t care much for 2 layers of bread — just one is fine with me! :) we had herring, onions and dill on rye bread and smoked lamb on smoky flat bread, which were both lovely. did you know that iceland has more sheep than people? they’re good for more than just providing wool for lopapeysa


what else? oh! skyr, of course!


skyr is a sort of thick yoghurt (technically cheese), probably thicker than greek. it’s quite tasty and comes in a variety of flavours and cute packagings. we were quite happy to make our way through the whole supermarket selection!



and speaking of dairy, here’s something new we tried as well:


súrmjólk, or “soured milk” is, very literally, milk that has gone sour. it’s a bit acid, but actually not as bad as the name would make you believe — especially when flavoured.


since breakfast is one of my favourite meal, we tried some in town. laundromat café had a very american ambiance to it (and was filled with tourists to match), but the dishes were ace, as was their impressive bookshelf-counter!



bacon! eggs! sausages! towers of mini-pancakes! <3 we liked it so much we went there twice! :)

we also tried the tommi’s burger joint (hamborgarabúllan), for their famed burgers:




they were nice, and we were lucky to be able to grab a seat in such a tiny place. lots of character there!

to cut costs, we mostly ate at home (one of the many advantages of house-swapping) — with one notable exception that we thought was worth the splurge: matur og drykkur. they do traditional icelandic food with a few modern twists, in a relaxed environment. each of us tried a different tasting menu, so we could sample all the dishes!


we started with the most amazing bread, warm and sprinkled with caraway seeds, and a really soft butter with bits of volcanic salt on it… i could have stayed right there, happy as can be, munching on that bread… but soon our starters arrived:



salted cod croquettes and horseradish remoulade, and fish soup with mussels, green apples and dried fruits — both great, and that soup! hot and fresh at the same time, and so creamy…



we moved on to the main dishes, lamb with rhubarb jam, potatoes, kale and crowberries and their fish of the day dish (which i think was cod, but can’t remember for sure).

and last but not least, the desserts: skyr with blueberries, oats and whey granita and mini-kleina, with caramelized whey. i love how they use whey for everything! did you know the vickings used it to preserve their food by “pickling” it in whey?



it was the perfect meal, from start to end — and the perfect sendoff from our time in iceland.

wait… but what about proper sweets or pastries, you ask? i’ll tell you about that in another post… :)


not being able to drink milk has made me crave a longer caffeinated drink to replace my beloved meia de leite, one that i can warm my hands on and take my time drinking. espressos are nice, but a bit too short. so over the years, i’ve turned to americanos or long black coffees, to scratch my itch.

when we moved back to portugal though, i thought my days of americanos were over. the portuguese are a bit set in their ways, and the right way to drink coffee is always an espresso — period. that is what “a coffee” is, around here. so imagine my surprise when, a few months after moving here (and already resigned to my fate), i heard someone ahead of me in the café ask for something that sounded funny… and receiving exactly what i wanted! a looooong-expresso-on-a-tea-mug kind of drink! :D

i pointed to the other lady’s cup and said “i want that as well… what do you call it?“, and the barista explained it was an a-ba-ta-na-do. oh, happy happy day! it existed! it had a name! :D

the abatanado

look at all that caffeinated beauty! next to it, the boy’s espresso looks tiny in comparison:

the abatanado, next to an espresso

i don’t remember anyone mentioning abatanados in the north of the country, but everyone seems to know them here in the south, which suits me fine! it has become my #1 coffee drink, when outside of the house, and i’m really happy to have inadvertently stumbled on it! *glup* :)

rebuçados da régua

so, before the hiatus, i was going to tell you what we got as prizes in lieu of medals, when we ran in douro back in may. can you guess?


rebuçados da régua, of course! :D they’re an old-fashioned and very typical local confectionery, which is guaranteed to bring back nice memories to everyone who ever traveled in douro’s train line. some old ladies there still make them, keeping the tradition alive.


there are 9 identical sweets in each transparent bag, all wrapped in paper. the sweet is rather basic, made of melted sugar and honey, plus a few secret ingredients, they say. the result is a hard candy that looks almost like a huge amber gemstone. they’re beautiful!


aaah… tastes like nostalgia! :)

whole60: done!

one of the items on the latest 101 things in 1001 days list was to do a whole60, ie, to go 60 days without dairy, sugar, grains, legumes or alcohol. it’s a stricter version of how we normally eat.

why do it? to test an hypothesis. i knew i could do it, since i had done it before, in smaller, 30 days periods… but i wanted to see if there were any effects of running a longer experiment.


well, the two months have passed rather quickly! my back pain abated and i think my hair is falling slightly less… but with hair this long, it’s hard to say. the experiment felt a bit inclusive, but i felt great — so who cares! :)

even though it is a challenge, it’s not a hard one. the people behind the program tell it to you straight: “quitting heroin is hard. beating cancer is hard. drinking your coffee black… is not hard.” which i think helps put things in the right perspective. i find the program rather freeing, and tend to forget that there are rules in place: after a while, the choices i had made had become automatic, thus not requiring me to think about them. and the less choices, the better!

i’ve also discovered portugal is a pretty easy country to do paleo in, as there’s always a grill restaurant somewhere nearby… add some salad or steamed veggies on the side, and voilà, dinner is served in a pinch.

i’m happy it’s done, but now i’m eager to start exploring the local gastronomy! :)