Francesinha

Our first full day in the city of Porto was a Sunday, so we followed the lead of the locals and went looking for a place to have brunch.  One of the regional dishes is the Francesinha, and after scouting out a few possibilities we landed at a place with an inviting patio that offered some good-looking food.  The funny thing about restaurants in Portugal and other parts of Europe is that they have pictures of all the food outside instead of a simple menu, like we do here in the States.  It strikes one as fast food like, because that is where we see it here, but all the restaurants do it over there.  Makes sense really, especially in towns where there are people visiting for all over the world.  So, don’t let that throw you, even the nicer places have pics of their dishes posted outside.

Wikipedia lists the Francine, (as I like to call it for short) as a “sandwich” originally from Porto but it is really a unique dish all its own.  It translates to little Frenchie, and if you are vegetarian or vegan you might want to stop reading now!  Here’s what it is:  a large slab of bread topped with wet cured ham, Portuguese linguica sausage, steak or roast meat and a copious amount of melted cheese.  But wait, there’s more!  The bread, meat and cheese are served swimming in a tomato beer sauce and served with French fries to dip in said sauce.  The Francesinha is a gut bomb extraordinaire.  Perfect hangover food.

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Francesinha, waugh!

Now, I should mention that normally, I would not touch food like this with a ten-foot cattle prod, being something of a health freak, but of course, we had to try it, being the signature dish of Porto.  Yeah, it was awesomely delicious.  I can’t believe I ate the whole thing, that’s how good it was.  We tried the Francine another time during our time in Porto and they do vary from restaurant to restaurant.  For me, the secret is having really fresh, crisp fries for the sauce.  As crazy as it sounds, it was magically delicious and didn’t weigh me down as much as I expected.  Could have something to do with all the walking we did.  In any case, when in Porto:  try the Francesinha or little Frenchie, Francine!

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Blue Tile Building Art.

After such an excellent brunch walking is certainly in order.  One of the most beautiful visuals in Porto is the tile work on some of the buildings.  There are entire scenes depicted in blue and white tile all over town.  One of the best examples of this tile can be seen in the Sao Bento train station in downtown Porto.  The lobby of this station is a masterpiece of tile art.

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Tile work on the building of our Airbnb.
Between the historic buildings and the tile work just walking around the city is like a trip to a museum!

On to Porto!

After four days in Lisbon we took the train to Porto.  We did have a little miscommunication with our cab driver who thought we wanted to go to the aeroPORTO!  When we realized that we were almost to said airport, we told him that we wanted to take the train, trem, trem!  To Porto, muita Obrigada! (Thank you very much!)

No biggie, only about 15 minutes lost there.  We stopped for um café (a coffee.  Must have coffee in the AM!) and made our way to the gate for the train to Porto.  It is about a three-hour trip on the express train which is very pleasant and comfortable.  Plenty of time for a good read, some study or a snooze.  They serve coffee on the train, we soon found out and it was really good and a screaming deal for one Euro.

What is that chick doing in the Porto sculpture?!

By the time we arrived in Porto, we were hungry.  So, after we checked into our Airbnb we took off to tour the town on foot.  Our hostess gave us a map with a list of the best places to eat, and we were off to seek delicious internal nourishment.

Porto is quite hilly and reminded me a lot of San Francisco.  Oh, and beautiful, beautiful, wish I was still there!  I had done a little research myself (Thank you Rick Steves!) and we set off to find Casa Guedes which is famous for its pork sliders.  It was a bit of a hike, but we found it and, of course there was a line out the door.  We were tired and hungry and almost blew it off to go elsewhere, but there were only four or five others ahead of us, so I insisted, we’ve gotta suck it up and try these.  After about ten minutes we reached the counter to order.

The place is TINY and when you get to the register, you had better know what you want.  This is what you want: pork slider with cheese and a glass or bottle of the house sparkling rose, which was not on the menu, as near as I could tell.

We sat at the three-seat bar and waited for our food.  Behind the bar was a man with a giant side of pork swimming in roast pork juicy deliciousness.  We were getting high on the fumes.  This was going to be good.

Magically delicious!

Holy mother of the best pork sandwich you have ever had!  And the rose wine with it, heaven.  There were only about three or four small tables inside, most of the seating was outside on the patio.  It was a little chilly, but we sat outside and enjoyed our gastronomic bliss.  Joe had a Super Bock beer, which was good with the world’s best roast pork sandwiches that melted in our mouths, but the sparkling rose really was the perfect pairing.  This was one of the best meals that we had on our entire trip.  Simple, taste treat sensation and all for about $17 Euros for the two of us.  This is what I’m talking about!  Welcome to Porto!   When do we move in?!