One of the things I was most looking forward to doing whilst I was in Lisbon was a walking tour with renowned journalist Celia Pederoso http://eatdrinkwalk.com/lisbon/ and so I was sad to learn that there weren’t going to be any walking tours over the period of time I was to be in Lisbon. Celia very kindly offered plenty of advice on where to eat and visit in Lisbon and even suggested that we could meet at the Mercado de Ribeira for an ice cream on my last afternoon which I happily agreed to.
Like the Mercado de Ourique, the Mercado de Ribeira is newly renovated and reopened earlier this year with an impressive 35 restaurants and shops including the famous Santini ice cream company, an extensive collection of Ports and wines from the Garrafeira Nacional (where I bought a bottle of wine from 1980!) and more of those gorgeous tins of sardines and canned fish from the Conserveira de Lisboa. Several famous chefs (including Alexandre Silva) also have kiosks there as well, offering everything from seafood to custard tarts and petiscos and it is a really fun place to visit for afternoon drinks and nibbles like we did.
When Celia arrived, we decided to start with a cocktail at Cincos in middle of the market who are in proud possession of one of the finest selections of gins I have seen and I had fun making my way through the gins on offer from Nordes; a fragrant Spanish gin made using the marc from albarino grapes, to a beautiful golden French saffron gin, all served with different tonics and garnishes which really makes all the difference!
Next, Celia introduced me to Peixinhos da Horta or “Little fish of the garden” which are made by coating green beans in a lighter than light tempura batter and then deep frying. As they are only fried for a short period of time, the beans retain a lovely crunch and the tangy tartar style sauce they came served with was the perfect accompaniment.
Our last stop was Santinis – one of Portugal’s oldest gelaterias – where we stopped for one of their famous ice-creams. I was really spoilt for choice by all the beautiful and unusual flavours on offer but in the end I settled for a scoop of salt caramel and a scoop of strawberry ice cream which I highly enjoyed – I can definitely understand its famous reputation!
In addition to all the permanent stalls there is also a lively fruit and vegetable market on the other side of the main market hall until midday each day (excluding Sundays when the market is closed) and as at the Mercado de Ourique, there are live music performances over the weekend when the market stays open until 2am (Thursday – Saturday) as opposed to closing at midnight.
A huge thank you to Celia for taking the time to meet with me and pass on some of her passion for Lisbon and all things food related, she is an excellent host and culinary ambassador for Lisbon and I will definitely not pass up on the opportunity to take one of her walking tours next time I visit Lisbon!