If life in Europe thus far is anything like theater, there is not one but dozens of intermissions.
With breakfast we have coffee, after lunch more coffee, when dinner is finished we order another cup of coffee, and between meals we stop at a cafe to order more coffee and pastries. Catarina orders from her favorite bakery and suggests that Jason and I try three specific items.
The first is called jesuíta which Catarina says was invented by the jesuits. At first glance, jesuíta could be mistaken for a shard of ceramic. It’s a semi-sweet, flaky, buttery dough topped with a crispy, confectioner-like glaze made from egg whites, whipped sugar, and cinnamon. There are many different variations of jesuíta, but Catarina suggests the traditional version which I find to be best shared around a table of friends with coffee or tea.
The next pastry we try is called doce de chila which is made from a specific fig leaf squash that only grows in Portugal. The squash is made into a naturally sweet and gelatinous goop, scooped into a brittle and buttery crust, and toasted until the top is a golden brown. The squash has a coconut like consistency which adds to the depth of the masticating experience. Jason likes this one the best.
The last pastry, tarte de marajuca, is my favorite. Tarte de marajuca is made from a dense cookie-like cake and is topped with a thin layer of custard. The custard has the consistency of flan and is speckled with tiny chunks of passion fruit.
The food in Porto is amazing, although Pedro says that because Jason and I are vegetarians, we are missing out on the true culinary experience Porto has to offer. My only piece of advice to anyone traveling on a tight budget is to avoid the “complimentary” appetizers. It’s a trap! Everything, even the single packets of butter, are added to the bill. Some restaurants offer the bread for free, but it’s probably just better to ask.