How come almost half of humanity spends all its time talking about food, about the best ingredients and wonderful recipes, only to then inflict exactly the opposite on their bodies, in most cases? Food that is too full of fat and calories, and often not at all healthy; most people eat supermarket meat produced though intensive livestock farming, where the origin of all those chops and steaks and sausages is by no means transparent. Many people don’t even want to know. Are our eating and drinking habits falling victim to the thoughtlessness of our era of fast living?
Just don’t get sentimental when you go out to eat in Alcântara! Keep cool. But if we still think back to the good old days, the first thing we must do is focus on the uniqueness and originality of our ingredients. If we have to eat meat, we should at least have known or seen the animal while it was still alive. If not, then we should at least know where it came from, and how it was fed and treated. Shouldn’t we? That is something you must decide yourself.
Speaking for myself, I have several meat-free days every week. But at the Taberna Saudade, I am once again seized by carnivorous desire. It is Saturday. We reserve a small table for ourselves with stools. Fresh bread, goat’s butter, olives and cheese are served, along with a bottle of Plansel Alentejo 2011. Now, that longing is given free rein. If you thought that you would not be reminded of Monchique when in Alcântara, think again. Pure chance: the dish of the day “Carne à Monchique” just means being served a portion of Assadura grilled by Laura Isabel Ferreira, the chef. Unfortunately it’s not prepared with the meat of the Iberian pig, but should be. So I give that one a miss. In Monchique, the pork is chopped up small, tossed in garlic and fried in piripiri-olive oil, rounded off with parsley and flambéed in medronho. A gourmet really only eats such a dish in the hills of Monchique, best of all at the Foz de Banho (Caldas) or the Luar da Foia…
To start with, I order the soup of the day, followed by a portion of Filetes de Polvo. Filetes? The octopus tentacles are beaten to tenderise them, then coated in egg and flour and fried, and finally served with black-eyed beans. Delicious. Tender. Just the right thing for Lisbon. Because it is always important to have the right meal in the right place and at the right time. After all, who eats fresh fish in Monchique on a Monday? You have to take your time, without which it’s impossible to savour all the flavours on your tongue. While doing so, I have a look at the skilfully restored Taberna and enjoy the décor. Because, after all, you don’t go out to eat just for the sake of the food, but also for a good and beautiful experience. That’s why I only go out to eat these days in places where the food is at least as good as at home. The chocolate mousse and an excellent bica are brought to us for dessert.
Lisboa, Prazeres, Rua Presidente Arriaga, 69
Telephone +351 – 213 950 730
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday – from 11.00 to 23.00
Thursday, Friday and Saturday – from 11.00 to 01.00