A fishy dilemma in Portugal

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When it was placed on the table bound, and indignantly twitching at having been so rudely yanked from its tank, I glimpsed the expression of a young girl of about six years old sitting at the table next to us.
Her eyes contained a mixture of revulsion, pity and fascination as she watched the three of us decide the lobster’s fate. This was truly a huge monster from the deep and what had started out as seeming like a good idea suddenly just seemed too daunting.
Partly due to the little girl and partly due to the sheer size of this seafood on steroids – we passed. He was plunged back into his tank unaware of the close shave.
This scene of indecision took place during my recent business trip to Lisbon where seafood and fish is definitely the order of the day. Thanks to some research from one of my dining companions we turned up at Ribadouro.
It was all you could expect a seafood restaurant to be and I’d thoroughly recommend it to anyone travelling to the Portuguese capital.
The menu ordering system is a little baffling – yes, there are helpful pictures of each of the fruits de la mere and some attempts at an English description ( “a type of crab”), from what we could work out it seemed the dishes are ordered by weight.
Hence that lobster would have probably needed a second mortgage!
It’s not a fancy place – there was football playing (silently) on a screen on the corner – but the freshness of the ingredients, the simple cooking style and the bustling ambiance make this a must visit foodie destination.
I’m not entirely sure what we ended up with as we left it to the waiter in the end – there was a dish of prawns in a rich sauce, some grilled crayfish and plenty of crab. It was one of those meals were the detail was less important than the whole and the whole was a thoroughly enjoyable evening where the food and the wine was the perfect accompaniment to lively conversation.
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Elsewhere on my whistlestop tour I found plenty of variations on a theme of fish and potato.Salt cod is the national dish and whether it comes in little croquette style servicngs as a start or an oven baked dish with the creamed potato seperately it’s a welcome sight.
There’s lots of fresh ingredients, plenty of interesting cheese and ham appetisers laid out on the tables in readiness for guests (charged for as consumed) and a generosity of offerings of the national drink – port.
I discovered that port can be white, chilled and crisp as well as the usual red variety we’re accustomed to having with cheese and have done that often fatal thing of bringing a bottle home. I’ve yet to see whether it travels.
As ever, there’s more pictures from the trip at my Flickrstream.

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