Tag Archives: food shopping

Port in Porto

Porto! Port, tiled churches, amazing views, lots of hills and layers of history. Walking downhill was the main plan. Where to start? We opted for Bolhao market, as it was near the metro and is due for renovation soon. And I love markets. This was mainly on the lower  level, not much fish as it was Monday morning. Lovely cherries though.

Live chickens at Bolhao. Next to it there was a cafe with live pigeons, not sure what those are used for. I’ve had pigeon in Beijing and would not eat it again. 

The sardines, however, looked great.

So did the octopus. 

We popped into Sao Bento train station to get tickets back to Lisbon two days later. Not necessary, but easy enough (30 euros, three hours) and the station itself has amazing tiles! 

 We headed down towards Ribeira for lunch, which everyone else seemed to be doing. However, we had an excellent lunch up a side street, grilled sardines and grilled tuna. Coffee took a while as they had a power cut (just like being back in Accra: lights out….) but we enjoyed the view and rested sore feet. No complaints!

Across the river, and off to a port tour. There were port houses wall to wall, and the little tourist booth have us a map with prices for yours and tasting. We went to Ferreira (10 Euro, 2 port types) and followed the Portuguese tour. At least our port vocabulary is improving.

Port tasting #1, perfectly nice but not amazing. Tawny and ruby.

Port tasting #2, at Noval. Just tasting, no tour which was fine by us. Gorgeous view!

 We splurged and got the five ports, 40 euro tasting. Interesting, the extra dry white port can be used with tonic for cocktails, we might need to get some for our planned Portuguese evening. The last two were very nice indeed, especially the 40 year old port. Just delicious, it spoils you for lesser ports. 

Our friend went back to another port house the next day and decided to go straight to the very good port. Amazing paired with chocolate, she reports. 

Slightl tipsy, getting the funicular up the hill. Well worth 2.50! 

We wandered to the Bolhao metro stop, after stopping for mystery custard tarts. Not pasteis de nata, but similar. And we passed this church with azules facade, which I know is in the guidebook but we were too tired to look it up. 

Porto is definitely worth another more in-depth visit, to be planned!

Two days in Lisbon

We are on holidays! Portugal this time, and we started in Lisbon. Lovely waterfront, winding streets with cobblestones, tiled housefronts and very nice people. This from Alfama, a local festival was in progress and there was tinsel all over. Here they were grilling green peppers as lunch prep, so we came back and had lovely fresh grilled fish and cold beer, sitting in the shade. Pateo 13, Calcadinha de Santo Estevao 13. Great after a hot morning walking steep streets.

Snails at Mercado do Ribeira. Little live grass snails, reportedly delicious when cooked. We were staying nearby, and who can resist a local market? Quieter than I expected, but lovely cherries and nice to wander through. 

Tinned sardines, in beautiful packaging. No food shopping done yet, as we will come back to Lisbon before flying back to Accra. I have not yet seen chocolate sardines (sardine shaped, not actual fish)  which a friend brought back from Lisbon, but will keep looking. Good thing I love food shopping. 

Fresh sardines at Mercado do Ribeiro, we webt for a morning stroll. Fresh grilled sardines are delicious, that was lunch. After waterfront drinks (white sangria) we also went to the Time Out food hall at Mercado do Ribeira – just packed by 2030 and hard to get a seat, another time I would go earlier to better sample dishes.

Between all the meals we also went to the fado museum. Not something I knew much about, so we enjoyed that. Then we went to the national tile museum, very nice. But a looooooong walk, so get the bus. We bussed back and that 1.85 euro ticket was best spent money of the day. 

Streets and stairs and tiles: while housefronts covered with them. 

Great city for walking and seeing little quirky details. Not to mention being able to walk all day without dropping with sweat like in humid Accra. It is strange being in Europe again, but nice. 

We have not taken tram 28 but that is on the list for Lisbon round 2, next week. Before that, however, we head for Coimbra and Porto. If you hsve any must-sees or must-eats for Lisbon please let me know, we are back there next week!

Back from Harare, and butterscotch banana bread

banana breadLast Sunday was my husband’s birthday. I think he enjoyed it, but I left at 530AM that day for a quick work trip to Harare, Zimbabwe. So I missed most of it. Today I am making an impromptu delayed birthday cake: banana bread with butterscotch chips. The oven was on for a fish pie, for potluck Sunday lunch with our Canadian neighbours, and we had some very brown bananas, so hey presto! Bonus cake! Electricity is expensive here, so if the oven is on, we try to double up: granola while making pizza, focaccia while making cake, or here, banana bread while making fish pie.


Street corner, Harare. I was watching the US elections from Zimbabwe, since there was CNN and Sky News in the hotel room. In Accra we don’t have the TV connected to the aerials, and just get news online – hardly ever video, as bandwidth is slow and too expensive, so live TV in the evenings was a bit of a luxury, though the news was surprising. Of course, one must be politically correct when asked what one thinks. Well, I said, at least they have democratic elections in the US. That is not the case in some countries.

Driving to the airport Thursday, the taxi driver said “Mugabe is 92, but he is already endorsed to run for president [of Zimbabwe] in 2018. He will die in power.”  Zimbabwe is also in an ongoing currency crisis: government employees I met has been paid two weeks ago, but could not get the actual money paid out. The USD is used as the official currency in Zimbabwe, along with rand and euros, but the banks and ATMs do not have much cash. What cash they have is rationed. See BBC article from this week: Why Zimbabweans are spending the night outside banks. My driver said “No, only 50 USD withdrawal a day, if you are lucky. We cannot get bigger bills than 50 USD, the bigger bills have all vanished. People are hoarding them. How are we supposed to pay for fuel, schools, food?”

Zimbabwe Herald

The people I met were so nice, though. Very friendly and talkative, and forgiving of my attempts to use Shona phrases and pronounce their names correctly. Nditenda! (thank you). We would laugh over lunch, especially when they saw me not having meat. I explained that while I enjoy meat, I generally do not eat it every day, and since I had delicious Zimbabwean beef and sadza (maize porridge) the day before, I’d skip meat for a few days after that, but would look for lentils, cowpeas, sugar beans. “No, no!” my tablemates said, indicating that a meal without meat would not be complete. Indeed, even the hotel breakfast buffet had several meat options.

Coming to Harare, I brought 4 kilos of wedding invitations over for a friend — might as well take advantage of two checked bags, even in economy! The groom to be has paid 15,000 USD in bride price, still used in many countries here. Anyway, I still laugh about the time a colleague asked me to bring a small package from Windhoek, and it was actually 4.5 kilos of Namibian dates…. So now I budget some extra space when travelling. No time for shopping in Harare, but while in transit in Johannesburg I found coffee, roiboos tea, rooibos compote, cooking sauces, chocolate ($17 USD for a bag of Reese’s Pieces….!), Pimm’s, biltong and relish, so I was happy.)

food shopping JBG airport

Now, back to the butterscotch banana bread…..

brown bananas

Butterscotch banana bread

This is based on http://www.sixsistersstuff.com/2013/10/butterscotch-banana-bread-recipe.html  which looks wonderful, but with less sugar, and some tweaks as we have small eggs and smaller but very sweet bananas here. As you see, they fit in the palm of my hand.

3 medium bananas, ripe and mashed (about 230 grammes peeled)
2 small eggs (108 grammes with shells)
1/2 cup sunflower oil
1/3 cup white sugar
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/3 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
150 grammes all purpose white wheat flour
50 grammes all purpose white wheat flour
3/4 cups butterscotch chips

Heat oven to 200C. Mash your bananas. I weigh the eggs as they vary in size here, a medium egg would be 60-70 grammes. Mix mashed bananas, eggs, oil, sugar and butterscotch chips. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, baking soda, baking powder and flour. Stir. Pour batter into parchment lined loaf tin, and bake for 50 minutes or so, until the top is golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean.

Notes: Probably better to bake this at 180C, but this was co-baked with a fish pie that needed 200C. We had four power cuts while this was in the oven, so I am estimating the time. It’s still quite sweet so next time I’d reduce sugar or butterscotch chips further. 

The butterscotch chips are from a quick trip to New York this summer – hand luggage only, 8 kilos. When JFK security went through my bag, it was a jumble of laundry, computer gear and cables, and exotic food: Old Bay seasoning, celery salt, hazelnut flavoured coffee, harissa, taco seasoning, chow mein mix, ranch dressing powder, scone mix and butterscotch baking chips….. the latter now finally being used.

Now back from lunch with the Canadians and lengthy post-election discussions. There are loud  shouts from the neighbours, Egypt are playing Ghana in a World Cup qualifier and Egypt are winning.