A Cookbook from Portugal’s City of Light
By Nuno Mendes (Ten Speed Press)
Hands down, this lavishly produced hardcover is the most beautiful book of the season. In this love letter to his hometown, Lisbon native and acclaimed chef Nuno Mendes takes readers on an insider’s tour of one of Europe’s last best-kept culinary secrets. In the oldest city in Western Europe, the rhythm of the day revolves around mealtimes. Hence, the chapters of this book follow the culinary clock. Pastries and coffee in the early morning. Salgados (savory snacks) a few hours later. At midday, there’s lunch, which even in this time-pressed era is a three-course affair of soup, fish or meat with rice and potatoes, and dessert; and in late afternoon, friends meet up to share petiscos, little plates of this and that (e.g., Tomato and Strawberry Salad, Garlic and Turnip Green Rice with Piri Piri Oil, Marinated Mushrooms with Bacon). Dinner never begins until eight o’clock and always includes dessert. And if you have the stamina, you might also nab a late-night sande, or sandwich. Although it’s hard to imagine being hungry after all that, the pages of this book—where evocative stories about café culture, beach life, and myriad other exciting discoveries are interspersed among tempting recipes and luminous photographs—are likely to leave you hungry for one more thing: a taste of the real Lisbon. Soon.
Humble but lovely: Potatoes with Caramelized Onions and Melting Cheese. Turn to p. 242 to discover why these savory smashed potatoes are a perennial Portuguese favorite.