Adeus, Lisboa and thanks for the memories!

And then this happened...

And then this happened…

I’d love to go on and on about the many great things I ate in Portugal almost as much as I’d love to go on and on actually IN Portugal, but alas, like my trip itself did, the lovefest has to end. But don’t you worry, sweet reader o’ mine, I’ve saved the best for last!

And by best, I mean most likely to possibly freak you out. Bear with me.

My last full day in Lisbon was spent with my old high school friend who lives there (the lucky bastard, him and his EU citizenship) strolling around town, stopping at museums, bars, markets, shops, and miradouros (viewpoints from which to take in the city’s many gorgeous vistas) basically squeezing every ounce of goodness out of life that day. It was a pretty phenomenal day at that, and you know I wouldn’t say that if it hadn’t included some good grubbing too.

For my last proper meal in Lisbon (not counting the pasteis I wolfed down en route to/and at the airport the next morning) I wanted one thing: caracois. Uh, huh. Snails. I’d heard about them and seen signs advertising them outside of restaurants so I figured, hey, when in Rome…

We walked up to As Zebras Do Combro, a small, homey restaurant with azuleijo covered walls and a sassy, Portuguese only speaking waitress who confirmed they had snails, among other traditional and regional Portuguese eats.  With stomachs growling (ok, possibly just mine) we ordered a plate of snails, linguica, grilled sardines (another thing I wanted to eat before leaving the country) and a cold bottle of white wine.

You know, just a casual, small mountain of snails.

You know, just a casual, small mountain of snails.

Ok, so let’s get right down to it: the snails. I posted a picture on Instagram (AngieDupinthelimousine if you don’t already follow me) and one vegan friend commented with a broken heart emoji. I texted the same picture to my sister, who immediately wrote back (5 hour time difference be damned): “HELL, NO.” So, I get it, people on this side of the pond aren’t crazy about the slimy little suckers as food. But over in Lisbon, they’re a local favorite, so I wanted them. Was I necessarily in love with them after? Well, no, but I didn’t think they were bad either. After poking them with a toothpick and dragging each one out of its shell, the tiny snails were kind of gummy, and didn’t really taste like a whole lot besides the butter and olive oil they were cooked in. Not as meaty or flavorful as escargot I’ve had prepared the French way, these were just ok. Not bad, but ok.

Bad food porn but GREAT food.

Bad food porn but GREAT food.

Now the linguica, a Portuguese chorizo that won’t be winning any points for its good looks, was deeeeelicious. Smokey and garlicky with a slightly crispy outside and a juicy, spicy inside, this sausage ranks as some of the best I’ve ever had. Again, not much to look at but damn good to eat, a true lesson in the importance of focusing on more than just looks.

It wouldn't be Portugal without sardines.

It wouldn’t be Portugal without sardines.

Last were the grilled sardines, probably the most Portuguese of foods since sardines are everywhere and on everything from a billion different beautifully packaged cans to keychains to magnets to t-shirts. I was most interested in getting them on my plate, however. Grilled whole with just a squeeze of lemon juice, a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt, these little fish were the perfect example of less is more. They were simple and tasty, the plump, soft meat inside worth the work of pulling the thin bones away.

Having done everything I wanted to do and eaten everything I wanted to eat, I left Portugal with both a full stomach and heart. Until we meet again, lovely Portugal, obrigada and adeus! (But you can keep the snails…)

Beach bum tacos

The beach was nice, but I was there just as much for the tacos as the fun-in-the-sun.

The beach was nice, but I was there just as much for the tacos as the fun-in-the-sun.

I’ve lived in New York over five years now and have spent six summers in this city, and in all of that time, never once, up until last week, had I gone to the beach here. Crazy, right?

This year though, I finally decided to get my act together, throw on a bathing suit, and head to Rockaway Beach, the official beach of Brooklyn hipsters and cool kids alike.

However, dear reader, I have to tell you I’d be lying if I said I was entirely motivated by any desire to feel the sun baking my already brown skin while damn near naked in public. A stronger motivating factor was tacos. Delicious, summery tacos from Rockaway Taco, the small, whitewashed stand just a few blocks away from the beach that draws crowds just as much as the ocean does.

So, yes, I went to the beach and did the whole sun-and-sand thing but once that was done and crossed off the bucket list, I went and had tacos. After roasting in the sun for a few hours, first on my list was something cold, in the form of a fruity, refreshing pineapple and mint juice.  It took everything in me not to guzzle it in big, greedy gulps.

Pineapple-mint juice and tacos: perfection on a summer day.

Pineapple-mint juice and tacos: perfection on a summer day.

To go with it, I had two tacos, one fish and one chorizo.  The  fish taco had a plump, perfectly-golden-on-the-outside and tender-on-the-inside hunk of fried fish and a delicious spicy mayo type sauce that I licked off my fingers like a gross little animal. The chorizo taco, topped with thinly sliced radish and zesty cilantro like the fish taco, was juicy and flavorful, and consequently gone in just a few bites.

Rockaway Taco was the perfect end to a fun, relaxing summer beach day that I should’ve had dozens of times already and not just once. Guess that means that as the summer quickly starts to wind down, I’ll have to make up for lost time and squeeze in as many trips as I can to Rockaway Taco… and the beach, of course.

Ice cream oddities

ice cream

Nothing odd about my love of ice cream

I will never, not ever, ever, tire of eating ice cream. It just won’t happen.

Not that I was in any way remotely close to forgetting this fact, but I was recently reminded, when I went to check out Williamsburg’s new ice cream shop, Oddfellows Ice Cream Co. speacilizing in small batch, made-in-house ice cream in what drew my attention, unusual flavors.

Sure, they weren’t all odd. The usual suspects, chocolate, strawberry and vanilla, were all there afterall, but there was also cornbread for example, and even more daring, there was chorizo caramel.

Naturally, I went straight for those, one fat scoop of each piled into a little cup.

chorizo ice cream

Rich, buttery chorizo caramel ice cream

Chorizo caramel, for those of you who are making faces reading this, thinking it’s disgusting, was far from it. The ice cream was decadently rich, with sticky ribbons of caramel swirled throughout and the chorizo only made itself known in a subtle savory hint of flavor, perfect against the sweetness of the caramel. The cornbread was also subtle and sweet, with a more even flavor throughout and a thick creaminess that was a reminder of all that is great about ice cream. It wasn’t overtly corny but did have a slightly different sweetness than a vanilla or other creamy ice cream.

With a whole summer of hot, nasty days ahead of me, I might just make it my goal to try all of Oddfellows flavors, odd or otherwise.

The stuff foodie dreams are made of

I’m a pretty lucky girl in that I can’t remember the last bad meal I had in New York. (Well, actaully, that’s not entirely true. The McDonald’s Happy Meal I had while inebriated on new  year’s eve in the Lower East Side wasn’t exactly one of the better dining moments I’ve had, but why even bother counting that?)

I not only don’t really have bad meals, I actually tend to have lots of really great meals. Some so incredibly awesome that I dwell on them, long after they’ve been digested.

East and West coast oysters

Last week, for example, the boy and I ate at the recently opened John Dory Oyster Bar at the Ace Hotel, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since. In fact, I woke up thinking about it the next day, wondering dreamily as I lay in bed, Did that really happen? ‘Cause God it was good. Like a lovesick schoolgirl, I want to doodle I JD on my notebooks and sign my name Angie Dory Oyster Bar, just to see what it would look like.

It being an oyster bar and all, we of course had to get some of the not-so-attractive but oh-so-delicious mollusks. To give ourselves a taste of everything, we opted for the platter of East coast and West coast oysters, of which we got three kinds for each coast.  Two shells in the middle contained spicy horseradish and a zesty blend of juices and herbs, each perfect for gently dabbing on top of the silky smooth oysters before being slurped down. I’m not an oyster expert but these seemed pretty perfect to me in their briney, peppery juiciness. They tasted like everything that is good about summer days at the beach. Continue reading

Edible highlight of the weekend

Saturday night, when the restaurant that we had wanted to have dinner at was packed and had a 45-minute wait, Flaneur and I decided our growling stomachs couldn’t stand the wait so instead we set off through the Lower East Side to find something else. In New York, finding something good is never hard and something great is never far. We hadn’t been walking for more than two minutes when we stumbled upon a cute, cozy tapas restaurant, A Casa Fox.

The latin-inspired menu had lots of great options in the way of small plates and we tried a good assortment of them but hands down, the most delicious thing we tried were the sinfully delicious, artery clogging, bacon-wrapped, chorizo-stuffed dates. Salty, spicy, meaty, sweet and chunky, they were without a doubt the most delicious thing on the menu and by far, the best thing I ate all weekend.

Chorizo-stuffed, bacon-wrapped dates

A Casa Fox had great empanadas, nice tostones, and a pretty good arroz con pollo, but the dates? Those alone were reason enough to go back… again and again and again.