After lunch at A Grade, the Missus decided that we should take a walk along the Ribeira, the scenic waterfront....though She didn't quite have the usual walk in mind.
I really loved the vibe that Porto gave off......
There was a no nonsense feel to things, a wholesomeness, hard working, honest, "from the gut", in that way, it strangely reminded me of QingDao.
Anyway, instead of the usual walk along the waterfront, the Missus decided we should head up to the the Porto Cathedral....but not in the usual manner....nooooo. Instead, we headed to the end of Rua Infante Dom Henrique and through the tunnel...
Here the Missus ordered me up stairs.....after marching up and down the hills of Coimbra, my walking legs had gotten into shape. Still, I had on idea where we were exactly, but we kept heading up those steps, under windows with hanging laundry and some buildings that had been....well...modified to accommodate the bridge.
I'm wondering when this "modification" was done since the bridge opened in 1886......surely when the brisge was perhaps retrofitted?
Eventually....after "heading to the light" we made it top side, and found our way to the Porto Cathedral.
Much like the Cathedrals (Sé) in Lisbon and Coimbra, the Cathedral of Porto was an imposing Romanesque structure, almost fortress like in appearance. Like its counterpart in Lisbon, construction of the structure began in the 12th century and features the classic "Rose Window".
As intimidating as this building might be, for some reason I really took to it...perhaps because there was a wedding ceremony taking place at the time of our visit. I really wanted to leave....because who wants their wedding ceremony viewed by a bunch of uninvited tourists?
We quickly made for the ticket station, paid, and headed to the cloister. Like much of Porto, there's so much wonderful Azulejo work. I was told that much of it depicted the "Song of Solomon".
This is worth the price of admission.
In many ways. the medium is binary....blue and white. and yet, the textures, the shading, the expression, never ceases to amaze me.
The Sacristy was a sudden shift to what seemed an almost baroque theme, but no less impressive.
If you needed any other reason for heading to the Sé in Porto, how about the view?
And then there was the wedding....I'm not sure how I'd feel about having my vows done in front of an audience of perhaps a hundred tourists, but this couple didn't seem to mind.
And the Missus took these adorable shots.......
As we walked away from the Cathedral, I saw São Bento Station and suddenly realized....Porto was now getting a bit smaller for us.
Within the area Northeast of São Bento Station is Rua Catarina, the main shopping area in Porto...pedestrian only streets; with iconic locales like Cafe Majestic.
Fairly close to this area was the shop that João told us would make a good Francesinha, the local specialty sandwich. It seemed to me that Portugal was full of these wonderful "sandes" from the Bifana in Lisbon to the Leitao Sandes it just seemed that there was a knack for pork based sandwiches.
So we ended up at this shop called Cafe Santiago....which looked more like some fast-casual restaurant. The place was empty except for a couple of "old-timers" having espresso in the corner, watching the television.
I'd read a bit about the history of the Francesinha; which is based on the Croque-monsieur. There are three versions at Cafe Santiago; I went with the basic version.
Not much more to say......until you see what this thing looks like.
It almost looks artificial......I was told that many people judge the sandwich on the sauce, which in this case was a light, thin, tomato-beer based, with mild spice. I thought it tasted like tomato soup....the Missus hated it.
Cutting the samdwich in half reveals the true evil that is the Francesinha, in the meat department; salsicha fresca - a hot dog like sausage, linguica, bife - sliced roasted beef, mortadela, and fiambre - ham.Two types of cheese were used , melted inside and melted over the thing.
I kinda liked it in a "calorie-bomb" kind of way. The Missus was totally disgusted, She wouldn't let me have another during out time in Porto...even though I wanted one. I should have ordered the "Francesinha a Santiago", which had fries and was topped with an easy-over egg!
The service was kind of gruff, but the place was clean, and I don't recall ever having a sandwich quite like this....this is definitely not a Croque-monsieur!
Cafe Santiago Rua Passos Manuel 226 Porto, Portugal
I forgot I had this little post in the pipeline for a while, but had forgotten about it until "CC" reminded me of the place. Anyway, the Missus loves the Veggie Burger here as well as most of the fried items.....health nut that She now is.
I received a couple of suggestions for "building" my burger after my post on Slaters and I really took them to heart....so much so that I'll probably need a new one, heart that is, after eating this monstrosity:
Egad.......anyway, I was told to get my burger with "Vampire Dip" basically the super rich garlic artichoke dip and I decided to top things off with anchovies. That's what the burger looked like and it was only a 1/3 pound burger....which was so over-the-top and rich it finished me, before I could finish it. The flavor of the garlic sauce and anchovies just killed everything else....I could have eaten one of my old shoes and would never have known...heck it might even make the burgers here palatable. This just felt sinful and wrong....I guess I prefer my burgers without an extra helping of guilt.
Honestly, it's a nice burger without all the "stuff"... I really needed a shower after this, maybe even a cigarette.... I'll stay with "just a burger" next time.
As much as I like the burgers here, this was just too much.
I first heard about this place from FOY (Friend of Yoso) Candice, who mentioned that Hans Cavin was opening a pork-centric farm to table shop in the spot that used to house Vo's at the end of the strip of University I call the "dead zone"..... Now I'm not really a chef groupie, as a whole I really don't follow much of who's cooking where and think that folks are sometimes more interested in the personality than what they're consuming, though who's cooking what sometimes catches my attention. Chef Cavin used to head up the kitchen at Kensington Grill, where the Missus and I had some good meals in the past. Combined with a pork theme (the shop is named after Carvin's pet pig...Carnitas) and a very casual easy to handle menu, how could I not want to check the place out?
I do love what they've done with the al fresco eating space in back of the place; which I found warm (literally so with the heaters on) and inviting.
It looks like a nice neighborhood place for sucking down some saturated fat, especially once the weather heads toward spring and summer.
The menu changes from time to time, though I'm thinking that some of the core dishes will probably be the same. Prices are on the low end for farm-to-table joints, so meat-huggers will love this place. And there was even a vegetarian offering as well.
Of course I could not resist the Pork Belly ($7):
It was a nice slab of belly with a frisee-apple salad as a counter-point. The pork had a nice crust and though it was a tad more chewy than I prefer, it was still nicely done. The glaze, which I didn't find very spicy, has a fruity component which is teeth rattling sweet eaten solo, but actually complemented the pork nicely. The frisee and apple I found too tannic and puckery for my taste. I realize that one would need something to cut the sweet-richness but it was just too much, sending me on this rather unpleasant rollercoater ride......
Having had it a couple of times North of the border, I love poutine. Here ($7) it is seasoned fries topped with pulled pork, a Vermont Cheddar gravy, crowned with a really, really, delicious julienne of bacon.
For me, this was a case of the parts being much more tasty than the sum. The pulled pork itself was very tender with a mild smoke flavor that is completely overwhelmed by the cheese in the sauce...which had attained a glue like texture by the time it hit the table. The fries were nice, but the seasoning just added more interference to the dish and combined with the cheese in the gravy made this pretty salty as a whole. Having bacon just made this a bit too over the top for me.....
I will say that the dishes didn't make me feel like I needed a shower or anything, so that's a good thing. The portions aren't humongous, though that pork belly was more than enough for me.
The woman manning the front counter, whom I believe is Sara, Carvin's partner in the shack, was a joy. I would suggest checking them out, though you may want to go when they open as the place seems to fill up quickly.
Carnitas' Snack Shack 2632 University Avenue San Diego, CA 92104
Me:"My name is Kirk, and I'm a Loco-holic" Group: "Hel-lo Kirk" Me:"I've been secretly munching on Moco's over the last four months, and have almost been caught with gravy on my breath several times....."
Actually, the Loco Moco, along with Portuguese Sausage, Eggs, and Rice are my breakfasts of choice. I really don't usually eat a very large breakfast, but when I decide to have a hearty breakfast (usually breakfast and lunch), the Loco or PCE&R are what I choose. For those who don't know what a Loco Moco is; in it's most basic form a Loco Moco is Rice, Hamburger Patties, Easy-over, or Sunny Side up Eggs, covered in gravy. Tabasco, or some other hot sauce is used to complete the dish. It's origins are much debated, but is believed to have originated in Hilo around 1949.
One day while sitting to get a haircut, I was reading one of those Car Magazines, you know the ones; they compare exotic cars that we could never afford, 500 horse power with a sticker price in 6 digits..... When it came to me. Instead of the great Porsche versus Ferrari Shoot-out, I'll do the Great Loco Shoot-out! Instead of torque and horsepower, I'd do gravy and rice! The ideas that come to you when you're waiting to get dead cells trimmed off your body! So I decided to compare 5 Loco's; 4 Domestic, and one imported, and even two of the same "model".
Of course I needed a way to measure the Loco's. So I decided on the "Modified Rubio Scale", originally developed by James "Da' Lord of Loco" of Big Island Grinds. The original Rubio Scale measured each item on the Loco, I decided to take the "base" items, the Burger, Gravy, Egg, and Rice. To this I added "Stuffs", that include macaroni salad, Spam, or any other item that comes with the Loco. All items are graded on a scale between 1 through 5, with 2.5 being average.
So before I have to donate my arteries to Medical Science, let's get started:
BURGER: Standard pre-formed mass produced patty, not dry though - 2.0 EGGS: Cooked almost perfectly, edges crisp, yolks intact, not seasoned - 4.0 RICE: Average, slightly mushy, but ok - 2.5 GRAVY: Nice color and texture, but no taste, not seasoned - 2.5 STUFFS: Macaroni Salad, too much mayo and no salt - blah - 2.0
TOTAL: 13 points for what I consider to be a below average Loco($6.39), luckily I had alot of Tabasco! Also shows how one really good item, in this case the egg, can bring the Loco rating up.
BURGER: Handmade, well seasoned, onions and green onions, make a good burger - 4.0 EGGS: Cooked perfect, crisp edges, nice runny yolk, I'd even say soft in texture. - 4.5 RICE: Well cooked - 3.0 GRAVY: Lumpy and too light, taste was ok - 2.0 STUFFS: Macaroni salad, good mayo, but flavored with relish, yuck. Didn't know what to do with the dinner roll - 1.0
TOTAL: 15 points for an above average Loco($6.35) for our one "import" model (from Los Angeles) previously posted on July 18th. A good example of how one or two weak links can bring a "good" Loco down.
BURGER: Premade, but actually seasoned, not dry, doesn't taste like cardboard for a change - 2.5 EGGS: Totally average, no crisp edges - mediocre - 2.5 RICE: Average - 2.5 GRAVY: Pretty good flavor, I know it's packaged, or whatever, but savory - 3.5 STUFFS: Somebody remembered their salt shaker today! Nice amount of Mayo, I thought it was pretty good - 3.0
TOTAL: 14 points is about as good as I think a Loco($6.39) can be at one of these Hawaiian Barbecue places, maybe another point if the eggs were done better!
BURGER: Grilled nicely, but tasteless, and dry, dry, dry - 2.0 EGGS: Yolks overcooked and solid, otherwise average - 2.0 RICE: This was a shocker, Dakine's always has mushy rice, except this time - well cooked - 3.0 GRAVY: Nice and dark, but tasteless, and not enough of it - 2.5 STUFFS: Macaroni salad; you'd think with all the carrots and celery, this salad would have some taste - but noooo, very bland. Why is everybody afraid of salt? 2.5
TOTAL: 11.5 What a disappointment. When I first opened the take-out container, my first thought was, "where's the rest of my Loco($5.75)?". Almost looks like 1/3 of the Loco is missing!
BURGER: Well seasoned, pre-formed burger, moist - 2.5 EGGS: I don't know if you can see it, but there are brown bits all over the egg. The main cause of this is that the frying surface was not cleaned or scraped after the last item was cooked. Threw off the taste of the eggs, and who likes biting into "mystery bits"? - 1.0 RICE: Actually very well cooked, you could count the grains of rice - 3.0 GRAVY: Too light, and not well flavored - 2.0 STUFFS: Somebody forgot the salt shaker when they made the macaroni salad, and too much mayo - 2.0
TOTAL: 10.5 Just goes to show, that all of these L&L's are not created equal. Funny thing is that this location is right next to a Starbucks, which I thought was so appropriate, being that L&L's are taking over the world!