– Memories of Alfama/ Lisbon –
A few years ago JS and I flew all the way out to Portugal – a country neither of us had visited before but always wanted to experience.
So we spent a wonderful, but mainly rainy week (but who cared really? We did not!) in Lisbon in time to take part in this city’s “Saint Antony’s Day” on 13th June.
On the eve of the Saint’s Day (even thou he is generally known as St. Antony of Padua, he was actually born in Lisbon) the whole city turns crazy – into their annual sardinhas- and -beer –bacchanal; the streets are lined with make-shift grill stations and the smell of grilled sardinhas ……. Oh! My goodness, you just have to fly over and experience this for yourself. Everybody is celebrating and having generally a great time and the occasional drizzle from the sky above does not spoil the fun.
We spent our evening/night in the Alfama district – which is the oldest district of Lisbon. Like the previous day, we had spent our afternoon here at the famous and so beautiful São Jorge Castle.
Alfama is regarded as the most genuine and authentic neighbourhood in the city. We walked the ancient cobble stones and soon found ourselves a table, where we sat and let the beguiling wail of Fado drift over us which came at us literally from all 4 corners (and more!). And, like most girls/women I too was given a small pot of fresh basil -following the tradition – (known as: manjerico) by JS as a symbol of affection – but on my brightly coloured paper carnations with a poem written on them, I missed out – that time!
For you, who like to read more about our visit to Portugal please go to JS very own Blog:
Obrigado …..Amalia, obrigado fado, obrigado Lisboa! But most of all, thank you Santo Antonio.
I could fill pages of telling you about that night ….. but, I am sure by now you like to read my version of ‘grilled sardines’ – sardinhas grelhadas! A recipe I jotted down on a paper napkin that night.
This is a very easy dish to prepare – appr. 30 minutes is all it takes. The numbers of sardinhas per person depends very much on your appetite, have a bowl of boiled potatoes and an even bigger bowl of beautiful salad – and sit out in the sunshine and enjoy!
Sardinhas grelhadas Alfama style
3-4 large potatoes, peeled, cut into 2cm pieces
1 Tbsp of hot smoked paprika
1/4 cup or so (60ml) olive oil
1 red capsicum
1 yellow capsicum
½ green capsicum
1 Avocado, stone removed, peeled and cubed
1 apple, peeled and cut into cubes
4 tomatoes, de-seeded and cubed
2 large red onions, halved and thinly sliced
1 Tbsp of minced garlic (or less)
A generous portion of pitted and sliced black/purple olives
A generous portion of fresh basil
A generous handful of coriander
1-2 tsp lemon juice
12 fresh sardines (or more) cleaned
1 lemon, quartered
1 Preheat the oven to 180°C. Cook the potatoes until almost tender, drain and allow drying out for a few minutes.
2 Toss potatoes with paprika and 1 tablespoon oil. Season and spread on a large lined baking tray, then roast for 20 minutes or until golden.
3 Meanwhile, heat a grill pan on medium-high heat. Brush the capsicums with a little extra olive oil and grill for 4-5 minutes, turning, until the skin blisters. Set aside in a bowl and cover in plastic wrap. Once cool enough to handle, peel and cut into thin strips.
4 Place in a bowl with a couple of the cooked potatoes, then toss with tomatoes, onion, avocado, apple, garlic, basil, coriander, lemon juice and remaining oil. Season with salt and pepper.
5 Increase the chargrill pan or barbeque heat to high. Brush the sardines and the grill with a little more oil to help prevent sticking. Sprinkle the sardines with 1 teaspoon sea salt – the soft-flaked varieties is best – then cook the sardines for 2-3 minutes each side until the skin is scorched and bubbling.
6 Divide the sardines among plates, then top with some of the salad and serve with lemon.
7. Place a separate bowl of boiled potatoes and a bowl of salad.
8. Chunky country bread or baguette will also be good.
Our Alfama cook suggested that I dry the washed sardinhas thoroughly with a tea-towel before frying – and I followed his advice back home.
I did not use a barbeque since I did not want my sardinhas to stick to the grill – so I dry-fried them in the pan – and they turned out good.
Desfrute de sua refeição – Enjoy your meal!
I leave you with the most beautiful voice of Amália Rodrigues
“Ha festa na Mouraria” by Amália Rodrigues