If I had been told just a week ago, I would never have imagined writing an article dedicated to the "Bacalhau in Braz" from the Copenhagen Coffee Lab in Lisbon. I must say that I have the good fortune of a special best friend, who, aware of the very heavy year I am living through, decided to give me a few days 'off' in the country I love most after my Italy: Portugal! On this, I am really lucky. And that is how I am drinking a cappuccino better than many Italian cappuccinos (unbelievable but true) even if at an unpopular price for Lisbon: for the price of a breakfast here (10€ for a cappuccino, brioche or pastry in my case, and orange juice) you can easily eat a freshly caught and grilled fish, with a side dish, olives and mineral water in one of the many exquisite family-run taverns in the city.Alfama. For example, yesterday on my arrival, on the advice of João (the guy who welcomed me in the flat) I ate at the Maçã Verde (Rua dos caminhos de ferro 84, Lisbon | +35 196 5512266 | 12 to 15 and 19 to 23 | closed on Sundays), right opposite the station. I had an exquisite grilled salmon with boiled potatoes, black olives, salad and mineral water for just 11 €. Don't expect a well-kept place, but it is nevertheless clean and the staff is very friendly!

Perhaps it is because the Copenhagen Coffee Lab is right next door to our flat and is housed in a beautiful, tastefully renovated stone cellar and has the same Ikea Ranarp lamps that I have at home... I couldn't resist trying the Italian-Danish breakfast! However, the pastry with dried fruit was really delicious, although 3 € remains a steal in Lisbon!

Yesterday I was on my own because Fabrizio is only joining me today, so I took the opportunity to explore the Alfama in the vicinity of our accommodation'.Almamater Apartment Lisboa - Paco III" (€ 80 per night up to 3 beds | excellent location in the centre of Lisbon, opposite the Cultura Portoguesa Café in Escolas Gerais 28). The flat is lovely, tastefully decorated, complete with everything and clean. The owner Francisco and his staff are very kind and very precise. The air-conditioning and Wi-Fi work very well, the shower is giant and there is a small kitchenette with a fridge, induction hob, kettle, blender, juicer, another strange appliance that I didn't understand what it's for... Francisco had a bottle of tinto wine waiting for me when I arrived, I can't wait for Fabrizio to come and we can uncork it together and taste it!

However, the subject of this first article on Lisbon is a particularly interesting match I made last night, at the Restaurant O Carvoeiro (Calcada de Sao Vicente 70, Lisbon | +35 121 8864275 | 12:00 to 23:00), a stone's throw from the flat and therefore very convenient! First of all, the entrance wall is covered with Azuleyos, the typical blue ceramics of Portugal, which really make me feel here. The place inside is very nice, a far cry from the Portuguese taverns despite the price being slightly higher. The staff is very friendly. I had a pastéis de bacalhau for starter which I found delicious. It is basically a rather large croquette (more than half the size of an arancino) that I had already fallen in love with. on a previous trip I made to Minho, in the far north of Portugalwhere they told me that these meatballs were prepared for pilgrims on feast days. The ingredients are simple, like all Portuguese cuisine: cod, potatoes, eggs, onion, parsley, nutmeg, green wine. And these are the basic ingredients of a bit of all Minho cuisine, as far as I remember.

For the main course I had the 'Bacalhau in Braz", where Braz does not stand for 'embers' as many might think given the assonance with our language. Braz was an innkeeper in the Barrio Alto, originally the residential quarter of Lisbon's aristocracy, which after the earthquake was transformed into a lively area populated by nightclubs, artists, art shops, art galleries, newspaper editors, designers and shops of all kinds. In short, nothing to do with the messy and charming Alfama where I am now! The fact is that Braz invented this dish that quickly won over the Portuguese to the point of becoming a symbol of Lisbon cuisine. Basically, it is a kind of omelette, because sliced onion is added to the bacalhau, thinly sliced Chips, and a beaten egg that mixes everything together and makes the cream like in our Carbonara! The salad, bay leaf, fresh parsley and black olives are also on the plate. Very good and well prepared, so much so that despite the huge portion that I couldn't finish and its heaviness at night I had a great time!


I must say that the combination was also particularly successful: Vinho Verde 'Adega Guimaraes DOC (5.50€ the 375 ml bottle in the restaurant). Green wines are a type that have nothing to do with the colour of the wine: they are so-called young wines (they can be white, rosé or red). These wines are to be drunk in the current vintage and are characterised by a pronounced acidity and an impalpable effervescence obtained from malolactic fermentation. These are also typical of the Minho, the region in the far north I mentioned earlier between the Douro river to the south and the Minho to the north. Green wines are always enclosed in a dark bottle that hides the sediment that fermentation produces. I found this one very pleasant: notes of honey, white peach and wild flowers, an acidity that was not too marked and a light but present body. It defatted the Bacalhau a Braz to perfection! At the end of dinner, I was offered a small glass of chocolate with a liqueur made from an infusion of sour cherries typical of Portugal: la Ginjinha... delicious! The bill? Just 17 €... and with the Bacalhau a Braz, the portion was so large that we could eat for two, obviously taking a few extra starters!

This concludes my first article on Lisbon. Since I still have a few hours, I will enjoy the Alfama and visit the National Phanteon. Will it live up to our splendid Hadrianic Phanteon in Rome? In the meantime, it certainly enjoys a splendid location overlooking the sea!



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