What they're eating right now in Lisbon

From figs to flowers, seasonal ingredients are the stars in the Portuguese capital.

Artichokes with fennel and lime at Attla, a restaurant in the Alcântara district that serves dishes based around what farmers and fishermen have that day.

Photograph by Aldechi Ziller, Arkhe Restaurante
By Jez Fredenburgh
Published 6 Sept 2021, 06:07 BST, Updated 6 Sept 2021, 14:34 BST

1. Spiced figs in port at The Food Temple
In vibrant Intendente, The Food Temple is Lisbon’s oldest vegan restaurant. A sweep of stone steps strewn with cushions and lanterns serve as the seats, and the ingredients are mainly locally grown, including perfectly edible but ‘ugly’ fresh produce from local farms. For dessert, try plump figs from the Algarve, slow-roasted with star anise, cloves and aged ruby port from the Douro Valley, served with a red fruit sorbet and almond crumble.

2. Strawberries with elderberry at VDB Bistronomie
With an ethos of sourcing goods from sustainable Portuguese producers, VDB Bistronomie’s menu changes depending on availability. During strawberry season, fruit from the Alentejo region is served with a natural ‘semifrio’ (a cross between cream and ice cream), elderberry foam and elderflowers gathered from hedgerows, adding a honey-like scent. 

3. Slow cooked onions at Attla
In the riverside Alcântara district, Attla’s dishes are based around what farmers and fishermen have that day, with chef André Fernandes’ creations reflecting both his Portuguese roots and international travels. When in season, sweet red onions are slow-cooked in butter, olive oil and fresh herbs such as sage, mint and thyme. These aromatic, caramelised alliums are served with pickled onion, egg yolks and a French barigoule-style sauce of white wine, chicken broth and chives. 

4. Black pork & fermented turnips at Prado
Airy and bedecked with plants, Prado serves dishes in which vegetables are as central as meat, fish and dairy. The black pork — from acorn-eating Iberian pigs, reared in south Portugal — is cooked beautifully. Tender shoulder meat is served on a bed of smooth potato puree mixed with fermented turnip root and leaves, the acidity of which cuts through a rich ramen stock, simmered over 48 hours. 

5. Artichokes with fennel & lime at Arkhe
A collaboration between a Portuguese-Brazilian chef and a Franco-Colombian sommelier, Arkhe serves plates of food inspired by organic wines. The artichoke dish is influenced by a Château de Béru chardonnay with a mineral-like, aniseed flavour. Slow-cooked, caramelised artichokes are served with a cauliflower and parsley cream, garlic mayo and fermented limes with fennel sprouts. 

Published in Issue 13 (autumn 2021) of National Geographic Traveller Food (UK)

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