The Mouthwatering Food of Portugal
By Ruky Okotcha
People travel for many reasons.Music Festivals. Family gatherings. St. Patrick’s. Oktoberfest. Dance Festivals. History. Love. Breakups. Immigration stamps. Terminal love. Souvenirs.
I travel for many of those reasons too, especially travel stamps. There are a few things in life that fill me with as much happiness as opening my passport and reliving my trips. Now, if you know this feeling, you will share my frustration when I arrived at Portugal and Italy from France and there were no immigration officers waiting to stamp my passport. I was not very pleased.
Well, more recently a friend and I were speaking about travel and I discovered she centers her travel on “food,” speak with her for ten minutes about travel and you most certainly will have heard about meals from restaurants in Dubai, Paris, New York and London by the time the conversation is over. I found this fascinating. “…you must write about travel and food”, I told her while we walked through Paris after the most delicious meal at La Regalade.
We decided on a trip to Portugal chasing the concert of a famous Bee, (yes, Beyonce) though we eventually cancelled seeing the concert. I took the train from Paris, met my friend at the airport in Lyon and boarded a TAP flight to Lisbon. Lisbon proved to be very eventful; we got drenched in the pouring rain, ate our first dinner at a dodgy restaurant and was later ripped off by two taxi drivers. Luckily, our trip had two parts and we boarded a 10am train from Oriente Station out of Lisbon and headed to Albufeira. The train ride was excellent and being from Lagos, Nigeria, an older man sitting across told us the joke about people constantly asking local Portuguese from Lagos if they were from “Lagos in Nigeria” or “Lagos in Portugal”. I made a mental note to try this joke in Lagos, Nigeria. It may or may not fly.
It rained everyday while we were at the Porto Bay, Albufeira but we got lucky. One morning the sun was out and we enjoyed a full breakfast, followed by a long walk on the beach and a relaxing swim; finally, we dressed up for lunch at Villa Joya – listed as one of the World’s 50 Best Restaurant 2014.
This restaurant redeemed Portugal in my eyes. Up until this moment, we had not necessarily had a great time. We arrived and we were treated excellently. I informed the team that I was allergic to seafood, particularly shell fish and they were able to make the necessary changes. I’m not a food writer, therefore I lack the right vocabulary to describe my meal, so in my own words… every dish was ABSOLUTELY incredible. My taste buds, my eyes and my stomach definitely came alive and for every time he changed my order, he said “…and a surprise for the lady” – it’s in the little things.
The chefs – Dieter Koschina and Matteo Ferrantino – are the most pleasant chefs I’ve met with a sense of humor. If you’re in the area, please make a reservation.
Food is surely another reason to travel.
Ruky currently lives in Paris and when she's not spending hours deciphering politics and policies, she's coffee drinking, people watching, nutella loving and learning to get off the Paris metro with dignity. Paris Love, x