March 31, 2011

Cacilhas, Lisbon. October, 2009

Ever since we’d had mariscadas at Trackside in Peabody, Massachusetts, we’d been jonesin’ for “the real thing” -- a complete seafood extravaganza at a Portuguese waterside restaurant. We got it. The Vale do Rio is one of the many casual places in Cacilhas, a short ferry ride across the River Tejo from Lisbon proper, a daily “commute” for many Lisboetas who live in this lower-priced, slower-paced suburb. Jay and I got an outdoor table, looked at the menu and ordered. (The waiter kindly indicated we’d requested too much; we were still not familiar with the size of Portuguese portions.) We settled on the “special mariscada dinner for two,” which came in escalatingly wonderful stages. First, a platter of green-shelled mussels, huge and beautiful. Then, a bowl of shrimp in butter and garlic. And finally, this mountainous serving of spiny lobster, langostinos and rock crab legs (as well as the crab’s shell stuffed with sauced crabmeat.) Lemons and napkins all around. By the time we were finished, everything was right with the world. A delicious, satisfying meal (at roughly a third of the cost in downtown Lisbon restaurants), a gracious waiter, a chat with some gregarious Australian women, a ferry back to the city glittering across the dark water and a walk to our hotel through now-familiar streets. The same again, please.

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