A few weekends ago, I took a quick trip to Lisbon with a couple friends. As far as I’m concerned, Lisbon’s the perfect city for a weekend getaway, even in January, which isn’t its best season. For me and my friends, the weather was loads better than if we’d stayed in Scotland, but it was, admittedly, a little cloudy and chilly. However, regardless of the season, Lisbon offers so many of my favorite things: narrow, winding streets filled with tiny restaurants and bars, wines that are both tasty and cheap, and delicious seafood.
My friends and I had been looking forward to at least one meal of grilled sardines but we quickly discovered that sardines are only in season from spring through fall. Luckily, one of us had read about a cool little bar called Sol e Pesca that serves a wide variety of Portuguese tinned fish. We stopped in and were all surprised to discover that tinned fish is pretty fantastic. We tried a couple different plates that first night: sardines in tomato sauce, smoked octopus and mackerel, I believe. Each was served simply, laid out with the addition of a few fresh herbs and paired with a big bowl of bread. Well, we pretty much inhaled those and ordered another round. What we’d intended to be a pre-dinner snack quickly turned into a full meal.
Not surprisingly, we wound up there again the next night. The bar is an old tackle shop and the owners have kept it looking pretty fishy. In addition, the house white wine was cheap and delicious and the bar staff was incredibly friendly.
We also managed to snag a few tins to bring back to Scotland. Turns out, tinned fish is the perfect Portuguese souvenir. There are a ton of different brands, each with its own fun look.
Since being back in Edinburgh, we’ve also discovered that it’s fairly easy to find the same types of tinned fish here in Scotland. I’ve found that a tin of sardines (preferably with tomato sauce) and a baguette makes a great little meal for days when I’m feeling lazy. In addition, taking a cue from Sol e Pesca, with a little bit of prettying up, tinned fish can be an appetizer worthy of guests.