Saint Anthony’s day is coming and the party is on!

     Have you heard about Saint Anthony of Padua? Well the truth is he is not from Padua, Italy but from Lisbon, Portugal. Why are we telling you about this now? The celebrations in Saint Anthony’s home town, our dear Lisbon, have already begun but the highlight will definitely be tonight: the night of the 12th June.

     Saint Anthony is not the patron saint of Lisbon – that would be Saint Vincent – however he’s our favorite and celebrating him is a way of paying our homage.The date we celebrate is actually the 13th June- the date that marks his passing away in 1231, although the party starts way before that day.

     This is a popular celebration so people come out in the streets and go out partying with their neighbors or with anyone passing by so I am sure you will feel even more at home during these days The festivities include beautifully decorated streets, street parades and a dance parade and contest between associations belonging to the different parishes in the city.

     Food and drinking are also an important part of this party and never like in this week, will Lisbon be as much filled with the scent of grilled sardines all over the place. These don’t go without the occasional glass of red wine, although green wine is also a good choice.

     Dance the night away to the sound of traditional music sung by everyone or played by informal bands here and there; go and eat grilled sardines out in the street and then don’t miss out the parades in Avenida da Liberdade, the main avenue in Lisbon where the dance contest is held.

     The following day you might want to join the crowd that goes to the church of Saint Anthony, right next to the cathedral in the old neighborhood of Alfama and ask for a little blessing. Here is a tip: he’s known as a good match-maker!

Sunday Lunch- Rice with Beans

When Julia , a former client, wrote to me one of these days asking for a recipe of Rice with Beans my mouth immediately grew water! Rice with Beans is actually a case of a long love affair for me.

This is a wonderful yet very simple recipe mainly eaten in Lisbon. Some people say that it were the African emigrants from our former colonies in Africa- Angola,Mozambique,Cape Verde, Guiné Bissau and São Tomé- who first introduced the recipe probably as far as 400 years ago. Both beans and rice were inexpensive items and mainly what there was to eat.

Rice with Beans nowadays is definitely a part of Lisbon’s gastronomy. It is used as a side dish for cod fritters (pataniscas or bolinhos de bacalhau) or for a Portuguese tempura style treat we call Peixinhos da Horta which is just green beans in a batter, deep fried. All of those are possible to find either in any restaurant in Lisbon or at any Portuguese home.

My home is no exception, so when Julia said she would like me to send her my own private recipe, I was so thrilled that besides emailing her the recipe I rushed into the kitchen and started cooking! The result was indeed fantastic and no main dish was needed as Rice with Beans is also quite filling on its own.

Want to try your own version? Here is a basic recipe; you let me know how it goes in your kitchen back home.

     Ingredients:

- 1 half onion chopped

- 1 clove of garlic chopped

- 1 can (250 grams) of boiled butter beans (or any another fleshy type)

- 2 table spoons tomato pulp or 2 ripe tomatoes cut into chunks

- Olive oil

- Handful of fresh coriander (or cilantro) stalks included

- 250g rice – can be risotto type rice (I use the can of the beans as a measurement)

- Some dried cumin (amount depends on taste)

- Water

- Salt to taste

Preparation:

     Fry the onion and the garlic in olive oil (I use a lot, but I love olive oil) in a pan until golden.

Add the tomato pulp or tomatoes, salt and the dried cumin.

Add the rice and let it fry for 5 minutes while stirring.

Add the beans (also add the liquid it comes with in the can) and stir.

Add enough water to cover the mix and let it simmer until it softens, stirring once in a while.

When boiled, turn the heat off and add the chopped coriander and stir just before serving.

Indulge yourself!

Cod fish fritters with Rice with beans

5 Places to visit with children

     Some of our clients are afraid of travelling with their children, fearing bad moods and cries. While this might happen, you don’t need to stay home until your kids become teenagers (and no longer wish to travel with their parents).

    In order to make everyone happy, we picked 5 places in Lisbon to visit with children (where adults can enjoy even more).

     1 –  Lisbon’s Aquarium – Gathers fishes and sea-animals from all over the world, in an incredible atmosphere that makes you forget the real world. Just try not to forget about your kids while you watch the sea otters: it’s impossible not to fall in love with them.

     2 – Lisbon’s Zoo – Zoos are a classic when we’re talking about children, but Lisbon’s Zoo is an exceptionally good one. It has a cable car, a dolphin show, free flying birds, a reptile house, a children museum and many other activities, all included in the main entrance fee.

     3 – Pavilion of Knowledge Ciência Viva – Put some comfortable clothes on and enjoy the fact that no one knows you. Play, experiment and try every single activity: you can ride a bicycle on a string, make some molecular gastronomy, sleep in a bed made of nails, etc. At the end of the day you’ll be as tired as happy.

     4 – Our pastry-shops – Portugal has a huge tradition when it comes to pastries and sweets. The good thing is that they’re generally made of organic ingredients (like whole grain flour or real eggs) which makes them healthier than a soda.

     5 – Sintra’s Moorish Castle – Is there a child who doesn’t enjoy to hear about warriors, battles and conquests? In this 1200 years old castle they can run around the wall walks and learn some history while adults enjoy the magnificent views and learn about the history of Portugal. Don’t worry about girls: just keep them busy looking for Cinderella.