Right outside one of Portugal’s most enchanting towns – Sintra- stands Azenhas Do Mar on the rocky Atlantic coast. A big fish sign welcomes you into what feels almost like a boathouse hanging from a cliff. Wooden ceilings and enormous windows surround you with a breathtaking spectacle of waves that gently beat against the rocks. This, combined with the soothing nautical atmosphere of whitewashed wooden chairs and white linens, makes for the perfect setting to relax and enjoy a good “seafarer’s ” meal.
A menu consisting of mostly fish and seafood, as well as a few meat choices, was no surprise but the attention to detail in the presentation and the service certainly was. As we sat down, the waiter kindly placed on our table a small platter with olives and local cheese, as well as a basket of warm crusty bread. Soon after, we were poured some lovely chilled Alvarinho wine as we were offered to look at the menu.
From a cornucopia of fresh oysters, barnacles, octopus, shrimp, lobster and, of course, cod fish, I gave into my weakness for clams. These famous amêijoas á Bulhão Pato did not disappoint. The name is a tribute to a 19th century Portuguese poet named Raimundo António Bulhão Pato who was very much a gourmand.
These perfectly cooked small clams are served in a succulent broth made with white wine, garlic, fresh coriander and lemon. Some of the most flavorful ones I have ever tried and it’s certainly no coincidence that this dish is considered one of the seven wonders of Portuguese gastronomy.
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