Magical Palace on a Hill: Palacio de Pena in Sintra

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King Afonso thrashed his mom, and then went seeking Moors.
And when he came to Sintra town, the signs upon the doors
Were in the heathen’s Arab tongue. The King said, “This looks right.
“I think I’ve found the perfect place to show some Christian might.
“And when I’m done, I swear to God,
I’ll plant some piece of holy sod
Upon yon hilltop, bleak and dead,
Where Mary dropped in once, it’s said.”

It happened as Afonso said; the Arabs lost their pants
And all around the city square, the pious people danced.
Upon the hill where Mary stopped, a lovely shrine was tossed
To thank the Lord and show those heathen rascals who was boss.
And from that dedicating prayer,
The Monks of St. Jerome were there
With no one else for quite a while
(It took a while to come in style.)

Ferdinand came into town, and simply loved the place.
He took an obscure little shrine and gave it a new face.
Damage from the Lisbon Quake was fixed, the shrine expanded
Into a getaway from all the stress the crown demanded.
A place of charm and beauty rare
So fanciful, the fairies there
Walk softly as they gaze around
At all the wonders they have found.

Today, the people go there still, taking lots of pictures
The Palace of the kings restored, with all the trim and fixtures
UNESCO said it must be saved, and put it on the list
Visitors are all amazed that it could still exist.
It’s one of Europe’s brightest lights
Come take the tour and see the sights,
See the gardens, fern and bower
Cool and quiet with scent of flower.

The pink and golden towers are reaching toward the sky,
The arches and the balustrades are simply for to die
And when you think you’ve reached the end, just take another door
You’ll find something else to see, and then there’s something more.
The views will take your breath away,
The sky grows bigger every day,
Some things change, but never fear,
This magic place is always here.

09 October 2013, Moira G Gallaga©

© Moira G. Gallaga

Portuguese Lunch

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Twelve:

Time for lunch.
The sun is high and the tables are full
With seafaring men who share
The spoils of their spell:
Dried, stewed bacalhau,
And sardines, salted and brined;
It is with little wonder
How Portugal is Europe’s
Pescitarian pride.

Bitter winter hails
The coming of cozido:
A cacophony con carne,
Comprised of chouriço
Being cabbage bedmates
With pork, beef, and rice,
Along with olive oil
And just a dash of red wine.

Succulent squid from John Bull pub in Cascais, Portugal

A mother prepares Francesca sandwiches,
To the delight of her young son and niece:
The cured ham is immaculate!
And blends in well with the linguiça and beef,
While the bread bookends are slowly soaked
By mother’s secret sauce
(Which their taste buds seem to sense
Is based in tomato, beer, and chicken stock).

Portuguese steak. It is extremely juicy and seasoned to perfection. Cut in a certain way, where you get minimal bone and more meat.

Using broa cornbread,
An old man slowly starts to scoop
A melted layer of goat cheese
Which anoints the crown of his soup:
Calo verde, coloured green
With potatoes, oil, and collard greens.
And while I dine,
I indulge in one of this country’s
Most beloved exports:
I begin to sip a fine young wine—
Naturally, a port.

Dow’s Vintage ports – clue was the smell of the cork and sniff of the top of the bottle.
The wine, which potentially could age successfully for decades, smelled luscious.
This port has layers and complexity.

A quarter to two:

Time to leave soon,
And yet there is always room for more.
I fill my stomach with
Nun’s bellies and angel’s chests,
In a land of milk and bacon from heaven.
Among these sweets,
A common thread of eggs does run,
As well as pinches of vanilla
And sweet cinnamon.

This sauced steak from Cervejaria Trindade came with rather large bowls of fried potatoes, which I am sure we’re just as pretty low-calorie as the buttery, garlicky, beer soaked sauce we dipped it into, hahaha.

The banquet lasts but three hours,
And yet it says so much about this place;
If you really want to explore Portugal,
Look no further than your plate.

© Moira G. Gallaga