I really had no idea where to eat in Portugal. Usually, before any trip, I make two different lists, List A: places I absolutely have to go to, and List B: places to choose from once the restaurants listed under list A have been exhausted. I was at a loss here. I found out about the trip late, and naturally was too busy and nervous about leaving work for two weeks that I had no time for research. So, instead, we walked. We walked around the gorgeous town of Cascais, going from side street to ocean view to side street, stopping in front of each restaurant to check out the menu, but only connecting with one, Casa Velha. The beautiful white home, with colorful creeping flowers I would kill for, seemed perfect since we were in the market for fish, but almost too nice and expensive, so we kept on going. It wasn’t until my sister tripped over herself, from what I believe was an undeniable sense of hunger, and fell down a few steps in front of some locals, and – worse – me with my camera in hand, that we decided we must just choose a place.
Naturally, my mom then went up to the hostess at what looked to be the best steak place in town and asked where it was we could get some deliciously good seafood. Without hesitation he said Casa Velha; we headed back there straight away.
It was a bit early for dinner in Portugal (around 6) but we were hungry and no one was stopping us. We somehow restrained ourselves from the plate of prosciutto I told you about here, only went for the bread and wine, and ordered oysters straight away. I don’t know if you know this, but oysters from the States have a bad rap around Spain and Portugal. Everyone kept telling me how terrible oysters are in the States. Me, being a typical American citizen, and an even more typical 2-year-New-Yorker got really upset and defensive. “But have you even tried INSERT NAME OF RESTAURANT I THOUHT THEY COULDN’T HAVE TRIED HERE?”, I would say every time. They would go on to explain that it’s not that, it’s just that the oysters in this part of the world actually taste like the ocean, like you’re actually having food from the sea. After having them a few times I finally agreed. Usually when I have Oysters in the states I pour on the lemon and tabasco sauce. Here, all I had to do was scoop them up and slurp them up! No extra additions necessary. Heaven!
Okay, okay this post isn’t all about the oysters because I also want to share that my grilled sardines at Casa Velha were the best I had the entire trip. That’s saying a lot too because there were sardines at every turn. And that seafood platter you see in the picture above is the most generous seafood paella plate in the history of my eating. It was enormous! All four of us had some and we still couldn’t finish it! It was almost embarrassing.
We were the type of full that makes you go delirious with laughter, add in the wine and there you have four people who can’t get up from their cushiony chairs so they order dessert as a way of asking for permission to stay longer. The only thing we could stomach was the mango, which Casa Velha served perfect and soft and well matured. We somehow devoured that within seconds though and made the waiters a bit angry by staying even longer, retelling embarrassing stories of my sister and I’s high school years with only our wine left to munch on.
So if you find yourself in Cascais don’t be like us and find yourself with no where to go. Oh, but, then also be a little likes us, and head straight to Casa Velha.