Yes it’s that magical time of year, when the days get shorter and the air gets chillier, the sweaters come out and the colors change. Sunshine comes at a premium nowadays. It’s necessary to get up early and enjoy any sunny day in Lisbon during the fall and winter. This time of year it typically rains. When winter comes in full swing it will be about 10 degrees Celcius and clear, sunny skies. This day was a bit of a preview of (colder) days to come.
I took the Tram 28 from my home in Estrela and rode it downtown to the Largo de Camões. This is the area where you have lots of tourists and locals mingling together as well as one of the lower entrances to Bairro Alto. This square has a large statue of Luís de Camões in the center.
Luís de Camões was a Portuguese poet who lived during the 16th century. He wrote extensively about the Age of Discoveries and the adventures of the Portuguese sailors, including Vasco da Gama.
In addition to this magnificent statue there are extensive cobblestone murals and patterns throughout the square. The Tram 28 has a stop in this square, and it is also right next to Cafe Brasileira and a short walk from Santini.
Walking downhill towards the FNAC I passed a really old flower shop. You can still find small family run shops like this throughout the city. Luckily, Lisbon is as yet untouched by the foul death grip of Walmart and CVS. Let’s hope it stays that way. Globalization! Not. Always. Cool.
If you want some sun on a nice day, the Praça do Comêrcio is the place to be. It is an incredibly large, nearly perfect square surrounded by an arcade and buildings of the same façade on three sides. The statue of King José I is right in the middle. The statue was cast from a single piece of bronze erected by Joaquim Machado de Castro in 1775.
Check out a depiction of the Praça do Comêrcio in 1650.
After checking out the square I crossed the street and went to where the old ships used to dock and bring their cargo and unload soldiers and people directly into the square. The huge rigging posts are still there.
After sunbathing a while by the river and watching the ships sail by, I was getting a little hungry. I walked back towards the Baixa Chiado area and a faintly sweet smoke wafted into my nostrils. I knew what it was instantly. Since a few weeks back I started seeing street vendors selling a fall classic in Rossio, Baixa Chiado, and Restauradores. Roasted Chestnuts!
Chestnuts are called castanhas in Portuguese. These street vendors are the very same people who sell ice cream during the summer. In the fall they use the same equipment with some slight modifications to sell castanhas.
The sign on the stand proudly proclaims that the time for roasted chestnuts is here. I would have to agree.
They were hot and a bit sweet and nutty in flavor and oh so delicious. I can’t remember the last time I had roasted chestnuts but it had been a while. The ones they sell on the streets here in Lisbon are as good as any.
After eating my chestnut appetizer in Baixa I got really hungry so I went home and started cooking. Fall means that the heartier flavors too bold and savory for the heat of summer are now appropriate for use. I decided to ring in one of the best fall days of the year with a classic fall menu: Mango Chutney with Goat Cheese and Thai Green Chicken Curry.
Here I’m cooking up the mango chutney. The labor involved in chopping the mangoes into small cubes is so worth it. Once the chutney was done and simmering I went on to cook the green curry. Too bad I only remembered to snap a picture of it after most of it was eaten, but I’ll show you anyway.
Well what a way to end a perfect fall day in one of the most beautiful cities in all the world. The fall season has a lot to offer in Lisbon, so stay tuned for part two of Fall in Lisbon.
If you’d like one or both of the recipes, leave a request in the comments below!