Posted on Monday, October 12th, 2009 at 9:08 am

Principe do Calhariz, Lisbon

Porco a Alentejana

At Principe do Calhariz (Calcada do Combro 28-30), I should have considered it foreshadowing when the waiter brought me a steak knife for the porco a alentejana, a traditional dish of garlicky pork with clams.

This place was packed with locals, seemingly happily eating their meat.  Yet, when I looked around, it looked to me like the vestiges of overcooked pork, chicken, or steak on their plates.  The steak at the table beside me could have been bounced on a basketball court.

After that first meal in Lisbon, I started keeping my eye out for the meat wherever I went.  Peering into churrasqueira windows, it consistently looked done, done, done.

I wonder if this is a cultural difference?  Do the Portuguese prefer their meat to be completely cooked through?  If I were to go to a fancier restaurant, would I find the same extremely well-done steaks?  I ran out of time in Lisbon so I am curious to hear about other carnivorous experiences there.  Anyone?

Sopa a Alentejana

Sopa a alentejana, a traditional garlic soup, originates from the same town as the pork and clams.  At Principe do Calhariz, a generous amount of sliced garlic was added to chicken broth.  On top of the bowl, there was a poached egg, along with several hunks of crusty bread.  When I punctured the yolk, it exploded into the broth.  Like oil in water, the yellow stayed separate.  The rustic bread sopped up pretty swirls of broken yolk and broth.  Fresh parsley added a little green.

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