Saturday, February 29, 2020

YummY! - Portuguese Grilled Octopus (Polvo grelhado) @ Restaurante Bacalhau Lisbon

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Lisbon, Portugal - November 2019
We were on a cycling tour at the Iberian Peninsula and Lisbon was one of our main destinations. We stayed a couple of nights there to explore the city more. Having been in Portugal for more than a week, we had tried many nice Portuguese food. So here at the country's capital we naturally went hunting for more!

On our second day in Lisbon we were down at the Mercado da Ribeira, touted to have great food to offer. Many live seafood were on display like these lobster and crab in an aquarium.... which sort of reminded me of the many, varied seafood we saw in Busan during a cycling tour of Korea.

But a couple of our friends, who was there a day earlier, had hinted that the place was more for tourist that came with tourist pricing. We were more keen to look for authentic Portuguese food in a more local setting, i.e. sans tourists, when we saw these advert for Polvo .... that's Portuguese for octopus, which is one of the food not to be missed when in the Portugal. So off we went a food-hunting and found this place called Restaurante Bacalhau just a couple of streets away, and on their front signboard it stated "Cozinha Tradicional Portuguesa" which meant "Traditional Portuguese Cuisine".

We kicked off with a jug of good blood red Sangria; it was really refreshing with lots of fruits inside.... pretty strong too as we felt a bit tipsy afterwards 😅.

We started off with this simple Prawn Cream Soup which did not look like much but was in fact a very tasty soup, one that tasted much better than many lobster bisque that I have had. The soup was adequately thick, creamy but not overly and had a very strong prawny flavor. It was a good thing that we had a bowl each as we savored it to the very last drop! 😋

The soup came with corn bread toasts and a small bowl of mayonnaise.

Then came this Green Shrimp Curry, looks like a Thai dish but perhaps this is the Portuguese version. Whatever the case was, the shrimps were very fresh and had lent their flavor to the gravy. It came lightly buttered white rice which went very well with the lightly spicy curry!

Next was the Parma Ham Omelet. It was suppose to be a light starter but turned out not so light as it came with lots of fries and sauteed vegetables. The fries were very good, and like the ones we had at Restorante Nova Launda in Porto, we found them to be much better that the highly-touted Belgian Frites; which was not surprising as it was the Spanish that brought potatoes to Europe from the New Wold.

The air-cured ham (which is also know as Prosciutto Ham), and usually eaten raw) added their strong flavor to the simple omelet.

The Tuna Salad came with freshly shredded fish in a light cream sauce and surrounded by greens. Instead of eating the toast with the soup, we had it with this salad. Sort of using the salad as a pate, which worked very well.

Pan-fried Sea Beam, simply done yet tasty as the fish was very fresh.

And here comes the reason we are here the grilled octopus (polvo grelhado), it's just a tentacle but was one that curled seductively. It came with some sauteed vegetables and roasted potatoes. Surprisingly although it was a large tentacle the cooking has been done such that it was very tender with the slightly burnt skin giving it that oomph of an aroma.

Like squid, the cooking style is important so that the meat does not become rubbery. Although looking like a simple dish it's not that easy to cook and actually require some pre-cooking for two hours before the actual grilling in order to be able to achieve a tender inside with a flavorful singed crust. Here's a recipe on get the perfectly grilled octopus.

Our lunch for six pax. Each dish came with lots of vegetables, carrots and potatoes. This made our meal "complete" without having too rder extra fries, vegetables. The bill came to €81 for the six of us, i.e. €13-50 per pax, very reasonable for an European country.

Bacalhau serves up many other good dishes, below are their menu:
Bacalhau's Soup, Tapas & Salad menu.

Bacalhua Fish (seafood), meat and omelet menu.

Restaurante Bacalhau
Rua de S. Paulo 170, 1200-274 Lisboa, Portugal.
Phone: +351 919 147 491
Hours: 12:00pm–3:00pm     |     6:30–12:00 am

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Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Sites : Capela de Ossos (Chapel of Bones) & Igreja do Cormo Faro Portugal

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Chapel of Bones (Capela de Ossos) & Igreja do Cormo, Portugal
Faro, Portugal - November 2019
Faro one of the southern-most cities of Portugal and with it's Atlantic sea-front is a favorite destination for sun-seekers from the colder north. It's old quarters is a draw for tourists seeking the old town charm...

But outside of the old quarters is another attraction not to be missed it is the Igreja do Cormo church. From the outside, with just a humble facade of a church with twin bell towers, it doesn't look like a grand church. But within its rear compound lies a hidden secret.

But don't rush to the rear, take some time to explore the inside of the church. The humble exterior belies the interior that's richly adorned with gilded fine wood carvings. Inside is a narrow apse which is surrounded by four shrines and a main altar area up front.

At the side walls are the four shrines, each dedicated to a different saint, but all are similarly embellished with finely detailed gold gilded carvings that reached up almost to the church ceiling.

The second shrine is dedicated to St. Christopher.

The third shrine; unfortunately the names of the saint is not annotated and I could not recognize this one. And also my apologies as I missed out photographing the fourth shrine.

If the shrines are elaborate, the apse (main altar area) is even more so.
It stands taller and goes inwards in several gilded arches.

A closer look at the apse; a couple of angels hold up the front altar and a rear altar faces the communion cabinet. Spiral columns hold up two inner archers and all this fine woodwork are gilded.

A closer look at the front altar, the angels are clad in gilded gold robes instead of the usual white.

While the shrines are dedicated to saints, the main altar was only flanked by two saints .....
At the rear altar a statue of Mother Mary holding the Infant Jesus is surrounded by angels and many cherubs.

A closer look of the cherubs. I wonder what's the significance of this? It's the first time I have seen so many cherubs at an altar area.

Even the top of the main altar arch has a carving of angels with many cherubs; perhaps this church is dedicated to the Infant Jesus?

The painting above at the arch ceiling above the altar is simple but colorful.
Construction started in 1719 and exterior was completed in 1878, but the lavish interior was complete 150 years earlier. The Igreja do Carmo has some of the best gilded woodwork to be seen and the work is attributed to master sculptor Manuel Martins.

We are ready to visit the Chapel of Bones; to one side of the altar a monk sits at a small desk. He sells the €2/= ticket, which is seen above and printed on it are the text:
Venerável Ordem Terceira- Venerable Third Order.
De n. senhora do monte do carmo- From n. Lady of Mount do Carmo.
Pode Apreciar- Can Enjoy:
Rica talha dourada do século XVIII- Rich 18th century gilt carving.
Sacristia com impressionante estatuária- Sacristy with impressive statuary.
A original Capela dos Ossos- The original Chapel of Bones.

We go through a door next to the altar area and into an area behind the altar. There are several nice paintings here and also a smaller shrine with a Crucifix flanked by two angels.

The exit through a rear side door leads to a small garden which is actually a small cemetery. Click here for a satellite view of this cemetery.

Within this area is the Capela de Ossos (Chapel of Bones) with several small shrines that were built from the bones past 1000 Carmelite friars monks who have served at the church and chapel since it was built. It is situated behind the main church and contains also 1245 skulls. The largest of this shrines even has an altar made from bones! 

The walls and even the ceiling are lined with bones and skulls.

A close up look at an arch wall showing many skulls. The ceiling is divided into squares each containing bones and a skull.

A small bony arch forms a window.

Like most churches, often the revered past monks are buried in vaults in the floor. This one's inscription says:
Born in16th Decemper 1791 and died in 29th January 1870.

At a far corner seems to be a newer shrine.

Inside only a small section is lined with bones & skulls, which also form a small altar.

 Chapel of Bones (Capela de Ossos)
Igreja do Cormo, Faro
Largo do Carmo, 8000-148 Faro, Portugal
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