A Lipsmacking Lisbon Breakfast

Hotel breakfasts too often cost a fortune for what is rarely a feast. Knowing this and preferring to experience breakfast the local way,  Monsieur and I ventured out in search of a good place to eat on our first morning in Lisbon. Walking down the Avenida da Liberdade we looked into various options. There was an interesting-looking bar/wagon with one large shutter open to allow its customers to drink their coffee on their feet, as they chatted with the baristas. Across the Avenida was a Hard Rock Café. It was already open but burgers for breakfast? Not for us. Then we came to the post office, which had a café inside it, but when we investigated further, it felt too sterile and devoid of both patrons and atmosphere, so we walked on.

A little further towards the end of the Avenida’s square, the Praça dos Restauradores with a large obelisk commemorating Portugal’s emancipation from Spain in 1640 at its centre, we found a modest little cafe with a small terrace facing the Praça. Inside, we made a comical attempt to order coffee, juice and pastries in Portuguese. (That is, comical from the perspective of the Portuguese  people around us. It was one of those awkward burning face moments for us. Portuguese is HARD.) The man serving us waited until we’d finished ruining the pronunciation of his mother tongue, before repeating our order in perfect English. He was so indulgent and polite about it that I could have kissed him.

Outside it wasn’t cold but it wasn’t particularly warm and a grey sky threatened rain. For the moment, however, we could sit quite happily and enjoy our breakfast of short, syrupy coffee, just the way I like it, with freshly squeezed orange juice and one of the most evil doughnutty pastries I’ve eaten in a long, long while. Under the glass counter there had been about a dozen varieties of breakfast pastries and with the lack of language distracting me, I just pointed randomly at the same one that Monsieur had chosen. Now it was about to give me an entire week’s worth of calorie allowance at one sitting. A big puff filled with creamy, sweet custard the colour of the brightest egg yolk is what it was. This pastry was imbued with all the wickedness of forbidden fruit. (On the Forbidden Fruit Top Five it’s only second to the Sardinian pastry I scoffed in Cagliari last May – filled with light chocolate cream and chunky chocolate chips.) Believe it or not, the Forbidden Fruit pastry was not too sweet, not too dense, the shell itself was light and deflated with each satisfying bite, and the custard was just the right balance of velvet and sweetness without approaching anything sickly. Oh yes, just writing about it has brought on the dreamy daze of a sugar overdose.

And so, before I take you to see Lisbon’s salt cod merchants or to edge along dangerous castle ramparts or to ride on a banana yellow cable car, or to show  you what we had for lunch that day, perhaps you’ll share with me what rates highest on your Forbidden Fruit Top Five? Leave a comment below and let’s SALIVATE together.

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6 Comments Add yours

  1. planetross says:

    I don’t have any forbidden fruits, since I am immortal and everything makes me stronger.

    But some other people gag at:

    Pigs’s feet
    Chicken skin … just chicken skin
    More than 2 Big Macs in one sitting
    a chocolate cake … a whole one.
    anything involving squeezing half a bottle of mayonnaise on it.

    oh! eating a dozen Mr. Donut doughnuts is not for the timid either.

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    1. epicurienne says:

      PR – I have a funny feeling that the ‘other people’ you mention are… YOU! Wow. Compared to pouring half a bottle of mayonnaise on my muesli in the morning, I think the custardy doughnutty pastry thing was probably not as wicked as I thought at the time.

      Re: eating a dozen Mr Donut doughnuts, I think it depends on the flavour. Gosh. I feel like I’ve gained 5 pounds just discussing these things! At this rate I’ll be joining the UK Women’s Sumo team and you can come and watch my spare tyres thrash around in a sumo hall near you.

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  2. Razzbuffnik says:

    I actually met some Aussies who ate at the Hard Rock Café in Lisbon when I was there. That’s something I just don’t understand. Going to Portugal to eat in an American chain burger joint.

    Some people just don’t seem to get it!

    I found the Portuguese pastries a real relief from the all the pressed meats that are served in so much of Europe for breakfast.

    Your mention of the trams in Lisbon inspired me to put a few pictures up on my blog. It’s been so hot here lately that I haven’t had the energy to do anything.

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    1. epicurienne says:

      Hi Razz – I think the international success of the Hard Rock Cafe is akin to that of most fast food chains i.e. you can travel without having to taste anything that might be new to your unadventurous and seriously handicapped palate. You Engo and Monsieur and I are not physically or mentally challenged by a fear of new foods. Oh no. We are quite opposite to those folk. Golden arches etc are more likely to see us quaking with fear. Funnily enough, I rarely eat pastries in London but when in Europe it simply MUST be done to support the local economy of pastry makers. Ah, that evil doughnutty pastry is back in my head. Like a bad song that won’t go away. It’s just fortunate that there are no worthy pastry shops in the vicinity of where I work or I may have been tempted to seek out some sort of UK version…

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  3. w1kkp says:

    My forbidden fruit is simple: home made caramel sauce (I found a recipe by a famous chef, Thomas ?, o god I can never remember his name…)

    My favorite image for this forbidden fruit which is also very nice on popcorn not that I do that, ahem, is my seven year old grand niece, trying it for the first time by dipping her finger in a spoonfull of it…one lick, then two, then, “Pappy, give me that spoon!”

    Any pastry that has the word “sardine” would be a forbidden food for me but for associative reasons!

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    1. epicurienne says:

      Ooh Pat, home made caramel sauce? Sounds wickedly moreish. And on popcorn? Heaven. Your grand niece sounds as if she knows what she likes. How funny.
      As for “sardine” yes. In various modes of transport. Often. I don’t know if that’s your association, but it’s mine. However, sardines on toast do make a very tasty snack.

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