On our recent visit to Porto in Portugal to visit my son and daughter-in-law, we enjoyed a few meals together that were, to put it mildly, a bit different.
On one of our first evenings there, Tom, my brave foodie husband, decided to try Porto’s most famous dish: Francesinha. A Francesinha is basically a giant, warm sandwich, smothered in hot sauce. It was invented by a returned immigrant to Porto from France who wanted to try to recreate a version of Croque Monsieur.
Consisting of bread, wet-cured ham, sausage, steak or roasted meat, covered with melted cheese and drenched with hot thick tomato and beer sauce, it is served with a big plate of French fries and often with an egg on top for good measure.
The inhabitants of Porto are very proud of their tradition of making Franceshina. The sauce is what differentiates one from the other and every restaurant has its own secret sauce. Tom struggled to finish it and pronounced it “interesting”.
Saturday lunchtime took us out to Parcque da Cidade, Porto’s city park.
As we strolled, we arrived at a large farmyard, dotted with different restaurants, called Soundwich. Some restaurants were out of doors under umbrellas, others were in the cavernous barn interiors.
We were lured to an outdoor restaurant called “Bery Typical” where a barbecue was grilling chicken and various meats.
A lovely waiter, who informed us he was from Angola, served us and looked after us brilliantly, while we enjoyed the extremely tasty barbecued chicken. The chickens were first hung high over the coals, something I have never seen before, then chopped up and the pieces placed just over the coals.
After lunch we wandered around the farm and found a little shop selling lots of local foods, including cheeses. We bought a round of the famous Queijo da Serra, which was soft and delicious.
Soundwich was full of charming little touches, from the colourfully dressed scarecrow to some interesting wall decorations.
Our Sunday lunch was another big adventure as we headed south across the River Douro via Ponte da Arrabida by Uber to Vila Nova da Gaia.
We soon arrived at the village of Sao Pedro da Afurada, a little fishing village and harbour in Vila Nova da Gaia.
The fishing village was full of little seafood restaurants where people could eat outside.
We were intrigued to find a public laundry with ladies washing by hand and clotheslines full of clothes and bed linen flapping in the breeze.
Continuing our stroll around Afurada, we were intrigued by the pretty narrow streets with their tiled houses in typical Portuguese style.
Finally, arriving at Taberna Sao Pedro (R. Vasco da Gama 126), we sat under a large umbrella and ordered grilled seafood – what else?
I enjoyed a perfectly grilled dorada (sea bream) with all the trimmings.
Porto is such an unusual city and we enjoyed an incredible variety of food during our week there. We’ll be back!