Well, now that we have left Lisbon, I figure it’s time to start writing about it. Our plan was to arrive in Lisbon and stay. For two and a half months. We had booked an Airbnb (with the greatest hosts ever) for the first two weeks, and we were going to use that time to find an apartment and a coworking space, to establish a routine, and to explore the city, of course. But within our first few days in Lisbon, things changed. I felt completely drained. I did not have the energy to wander far from our apartment, much less decode a new language and public transit system, hunt for apartments, or research coworking spaces. I was wiped out, and I did not have the ability to summon the excitement for being in a new and beautiful place. So after some serious heart-to-hearts, Jonah and I decided, once again, to change plans: we would stay in Lisbon for a month, explore the rest of Portugal for about three weeks after that, then fly to the Netherlands to visit some old friends who live there and to meet some friends at the beginning of their own Europe trip, and then fly back to the States.
Last week, Jonah and I were lucky enough to attend the complimentary media preview dinner of Fogo de Chão, the Southern Brazilian steakhouse that has just opened in downtown Portland. Taking over what used to be the Niketown on SW 6th, Fogo de Chão has transformed the space into an elegant dining room with space for 250 diners. At the center of the dining room is a beautiful salad bar with some neat pillar sculptures on either side.
In case you don’t know, because I certainly didn’t before reading about this event, here’s how a Brazilian steakhouse like Fogo de Chão works: you are seated at your table, and each diner has a little disc that is green on one side and red on the other. Green side up tells the gauchos to continue service (aka bombard you with beautiful cuts of meat), and red side up means you need a break (otherwise you’ll explode from a serious case of “meat baby”). In addition to unlimited amounts of perfectly cooked steaks, there was also a salad bar full of various kinds of green salads, chicken salad, potato salad, pickled cucumbers, grilled vegetables, hearts of palm, scalloped potatoes, rice… the list goes on and on.
Upon arriving, we were directed to the bar, where we chatted with one of the bartenders while he made us each a caipirinha, the national drink of Brazil. We were then seated, and hit up the salad bar before sitting down and flipping our discs to green. As soon as we flipped them, there were gauchos everywhere! Seriously! How were there so many of them?!
We started with a slice of picanha, a bacon-wrapped filet mignon, and some other slice of steak I can’t remember. The gauchos are incredibly kind and very skilled with their knives. The discs went back to red, and we dug in. Every piece of meat was perfectly cooked and seasoned. The fat was melty and soft, and the meat was perfectly tender. While we were digging into the meat extravaganza on our plates, we were given a basked of pão de queijo (pão bread!), caramelized bananas, crispy fried polenta, and garlic mashed potatoes. My favorites of these sides were certainly the caramelized bananas and the pão de queijo – I have serious weaknesses for both.
The caipirinhas kept flowing, the gauchos kept coming with more skewers of meat, and then there was dessert: caramelized pineapple and chocolate molten cake. We met Ron, one of the managers, and spoke with a few of the servers and gauchos. My favorite part of the evening by far was the service – everyone was so kind and friendly. It truly seemed like the servers were having as good of a time as all of us diners. We were very well taken care of and attended to, which was lovely.
Now, down to the nitty gritty: dinner at Fogo de Chão will run you $49.50 per person, but keep in mind that the price comes with all you can eat salad bar and beautiful cuts of meat. If you’re a vegetarian, all-you-can-eat salad bar is $26.50. Dessert and drinks are separate purchases. I recommend the caipirinhas 😉
Weekend finds this week are all over the place. But you know what? So am I. I finished up my birthday celebrations this week, had a wonderful time at a blogger event (post coming soon), and have been trying to get used to just living at home for a while without jetting off some place every week. So maybe I’m not all over the place, but right where I’m supposed to be.
1. Oyster Shell Salt Cellars
I know the DIY for these gold painter oyster shells says “WEDDING” on it, but please. These would be so gorgeous on any table, whether it be for Thanksgiving or just your everyday dinner. Now I just have to find oyster shells…
2. Tips from Isa Chandra Moskowitz
These are some great tips from vegan chef Isa Moskowitz. My favorite? Master 5 recipes – memorize, know them backwards and forwards, and then you can start to riff and improvise.
A wine based amaro, huh? The name tricked me into thinking it had something to do with cardamom. And it doesn’t. But that’s ok. I like wine and I like amaro, so I think I’d like to give this liqueur a shot.
4. Ox Restaurant, PDX
Jonah took me to Ox for my birthday this week. While the wait was an hour (!), we enjoyed oysters and cocktails next door at Whey Bar while we waited. And when we did finally sit down, the staff (Elaina and Adam in particular) were so welcoming and fun, the food was impeccable (I recommend getting the carrots and the Uruguayan grass-fed ribeye), and the atmosphere was so warm. What a lovely way to celebrate.
5. Eggs poached in white wine from 101 cookbooks
I’m relatively new to the egg poaching game. I’ve done it successfully a few times, but I still don’t think to do it that often. Still, I wonder why I never thought to poach eggs in liquid other than water. This recipe for eggs poached in white wine looks lovely, and her suggestion to use it to top a winter root vegetable gratin sounds heavenly.
6. Chicken stock from Smitten Kitchen
I’ll admit, I’m planning on making this easy chicken stock tonight. We’ve had a cold going around our house (Jonah has gotten it, so I know it’s only a matter of time) and I can’t imagine how nice it’ll be to have this waiting for me in the fridge/freezer when I inevitably get a sore throat and the sniffles.
Life has been crazy busy. I know I keep saying that, but then it keeps getting busier. Maybe I’m jinxing it. Anyway, cooking has definitely been put on the back burner, which is a bummer. Mostly because I love good food and I love cooking it. But it’s hard when you come home and you’re tired and you have to look for recipes and then go to the store, etc. Lately, Jonah and I have been all for quick, light meals. I found a bunch of delicious looking main dish salads on Martha Stewart’s website. This is the Thai-Style Steak Salad. We halved it but I’ll give you the original recipe, which serves 4.
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice First, make the marinade by whisking the lime juice, soy sauce, sugar, red pepper flakes, and oil in a bowl. Season the steaks with a bit of salt and pepper, place them in a dish, and pour 1/4 of the marinade over the steaks (save the rest of the marinade in a bowl). Turn the steaks to coat and let them marinate for 30 minutes. In a large skillet, cook the steaks on medium-high heat. Cook it 2-3 minutes per side for it to be medium-rare. Cook it more if you want. Transfer the meat to a cutting board, tent it with aluminum foil, and let it rest for 5-10 minutes. Slice the steaks nice and thin, preferably 1/4 inch-thick. If they’re too long, you can halve the slices crosswise. Transfer the meat back to the bowl with the marinade and toss it to coat. While the meat is resting (or marinating, for that matter), peel the carrots into ribbons with a peeler. Chop the peanuts too, while you’re at it. Add the carrots to the bowl with the steak, as well as the lettuce and the mint, and toss to combine. Divide evenly into shallow bowls, sprinkle with the peanuts (and peanut sauce if you want), and serve!
Thai-Style Steak Salad
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 boneless rib-eye steaks (each 8 ounces and 3/4 inch thick)
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1/2 pound carrots (3 to 4 medium)
1 medium head romaine lettuce, cut crosswise into 1-inch ribbons
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
1/3 cup salted peanuts, chopped (optional)
Peanut sauce (optional)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
First, make the marinade by whisking the lime juice, soy sauce, sugar, red pepper flakes, and oil in a bowl. Season the steaks with a bit of salt and pepper, place them in a dish, and pour 1/4 of the marinade over the steaks (save the rest of the marinade in a bowl). Turn the steaks to coat and let them marinate for 30 minutes.
In a large skillet, cook the steaks on medium-high heat. Cook it 2-3 minutes per side for it to be medium-rare. Cook it more if you want. Transfer the meat to a cutting board, tent it with aluminum foil, and let it rest for 5-10 minutes. Slice the steaks nice and thin, preferably 1/4 inch-thick. If they’re too long, you can halve the slices crosswise. Transfer the meat back to the bowl with the marinade and toss it to coat.
While the meat is resting (or marinating, for that matter), peel the carrots into ribbons with a peeler. Chop the peanuts too, while you’re at it. Add the carrots to the bowl with the steak, as well as the lettuce and the mint, and toss to combine. Divide evenly into shallow bowls, sprinkle with the peanuts (and peanut sauce if you want), and serve!