Monday, March 7, 2016

Escaping the Winter Doldrums...

Last year Jude asked a really good question; When it's late-winter here in Paris and after we've become too cold and stiff to enjoy the city and after we've become so bored that we feel we're going to go crazy, would you like to get away to somewhere warm and sunny?  Would you like to thaw out a little?

Lisbon ~ Path to Heaven
... on an unassuming little street...

The search for the warmest, sunniest place in late-winter Europe was actually quick and easy.  It came down to just two places.  Seville and Lisbon are, on average, 17degrees C/64degrees F during the month of March.  Both places seemed to have enough things to do to keep to old people entertained.  As a bonus, Jude's daughter, Jami, said she'd like to join us.

The two of them, mother and daughter, plotted and planned and scanned the internet and found a highly rated apartment in Lisbon.  It would be perfect as Jude really wanted to be close to the ocean and Seville seemed just a bit too far in-land.  A Paris-winter cold digit pointed to a place marked on the map as Terra Incognita Lisboa.

Terra Incognita, indeed.  None of us had ever been to Lisbon and we were concerned about signing up for Yet Another Great Adventure into the Vasty Unknowns.  As in the 1400's, we needed to ask a few serious questions. Would our airplane be able to traverse Large Distances?  Was this city on pilot's navigational charts?  Would the wax that holds the wings melt if we got too close to the sun?  Would the sea boil with Heat and Monsters?  If we arrived safely, would we be met with Head Hunters of the Skull Downsizing kind?  Or would Terra Incognita Lisboa be peopled with a kind and gentle race?  And most importantly, what in the Great Unknown Land do they eat?

Lisbon ~ Frangasqueira Nacional
... and with little to no warning...

Unfortunately, Jude's daughter had work to tend to and couldn't make the trip.  Fortunately, we'll see her later this year.  Which means we have a big (by Parisian standards) apartment all to ourselves and the entire Great Unknown to explore.

Against all Dread and Fear and Concern we left a cold, wet, and very dark gray in winter and safely landed in bright, clear, sunny, and springlike warm Lisbon.  The next day it snowed in Paris.  We'd gotten out just in the nick of time.

In the end, none of our Questions of Concern applied.  There were no Boiling Oceans and no sun-induced Dripping of Icarus` Wax.  No monsters were spied.  All seemed Good and Civilized.  Our apartment was beautiful and filled with light.  The only unanswered question was about food.

Our trips typically begin with an exploration of the regional delights.  It's what fuels our adventures and (hopefully) thrills the senses.  Our Landing in Lisboa was no different. The Arrival Night's meal was spent looking from a windowed terraced restaurant.  A little bat flitted and angled, swooped and spun in the air.  The grilled shrimp and shrimp curry were excellent.  We easily sensed the fact that the Portuguese had strong connections with Goa, India.

Lisbon ~ BBQ
... where things are warm and cozy...

The Second Night led us to a Take-Out Joint that Jude had researched.  Our lives will never be the same again.

I'm not sure that the Portuguese come by grilled meats themselves.  If I read the Charred Remains correctly, BBQ is here thanks to the Brazilians.  There are charcoal briquets in the local supermarkets.  There is wood to season the smoke.  There are meats just begging to be be BBQ'd.

The place Jude found is take-out only and can get pretty darned busy.

Chickens are butterflied flat and placed over a fire.  Turkey is skewered alongside onions (oignon - formerly in France, but now ognon - search me, the French don't like change, yet changed over 2,500 words this year) and green bell pepper.  Ribs, oh the ribs, are just as you've seen in America.  Glorious and ever so tasty.

Lisbon ~ Frangasqueira Nacional
... is a place more properly called Paradise...

Then comes the sauces.  There is a sauce that has a very mild but persistant "heat" to it.  I'm not sure what the peppers are, but they are glorious.  Dripped and laid over hot steaming fresh off the grill meats presents a perfect match of tastes and mouth watering sensations.

For sides, we saw that they have white rice, a nice tomato salad and a couple other things we haven't tried.  The potato chips are supposed to be pretty special.  The last time we were there they had brownies under glass for dessert.

If you need wine, the tinto Promessas at 5Euro a bottle was surprisingly good.  The blanco Promessas is available, as is a small selection of beer.  There is water for those crazy enough to be driving around Lisboa.

Lisbon ~ BBQ
... with a grill manned by a True Master...

How good was it?  So good that we've eaten their BBQ 5 of the past 7 days.  Crazy.  Yes.  We are crazy.  But it'd been such a long time since we'd had anything this tasty.

The Hole in the Wall is up in the Principe Real on Rua da Imprensa Nacional at number 116.  The place is called Frangasqueira National.  The grill is manned by a True Master.  If you stop in, please tell him the old man with a waxed mustache says to say "hi."

Lisbon ~ BBQ
... to the table with BBQ ribs, tomato salad, 
and a few things we added to make a Most Perfect Meal.

[I took a few photos during our visit]


  1. Following your posts and your photos makes me want to buy a plane ticket to Portugal right NOW!

    1. Portugal is a pleasant surprise. It's an utterly charming city and a Photographer's Dream, too. As a bonus, we've not encountered a bad meal yet.