Sean and I recently took a cooking class with Cooking Lisbon and found we came out with a lot more than full stomachs and a handful of recipes. We met some wonderful people, got some great travel advice and learned things about the food and culture of Lisbon that made us feel more connected to the place. We found the experience well worth the price of admission!
We chose Cooking Lisbon based on some good reviews on Trip Advisor. Well, also because for what seemed to be a lower price than some of the other cooking classes in the area — we’d be getting a longer class and preparing just as much food. It’s hard to argue with more for less.
When we arrived we were greeted by co-owner Luis and Chef Isabel and introduced to the rest of the class (travelers from Spain and Canada). After walking through the menu for the evening we started sipping wine and were given cooking instructions by the Chef. It was fun swapping travel stories with the others in the group and getting some advice about things to do in the places that we were planning to visit down the road. We also got wonderful tips about what to do on our first trip to the Lisbon, which was all very helpful. Chef Isabel did a great job of keeping us on task when we got distracted chatting with the other guests.
The format of the class is hands-on — we chopped, sliced, and cooked ourselves (under the watchful eye of Chef Isabel) instead of just passively watching a cooking presentation. While we worked, Luis grilled sausage on a ceramic table grill called an assaduoro. If only I had room in my suitcase for one of these! When we took a break to sample the sausage he also treated us to a tasting of Portuguese olive oils.
We also discussed wine — Portugal produces an amazing array of good, inexpensive wine, but in our experience, it is difficult to find a lot of Portuguese wines in the United States. According to Luis, winemakers in Portugal need to relabel their bottles before exporting to the United States to comply with U.S. law (i.e., indicating they they should not be consumed by pregnant women). Apparently, women in many other countries don’t require the same notification and thus much of the wine gets exported to other regions instead.
The rest of the menu included:
Algarve Style Cuttlefish Stew, made in a traditional (cataplana) pot.
Portuguese Style Stewed Pork with Fried Potatoes
Farófias – “Clouds” in a custard sauce.
We finished off with a sample of Ginja – a Portuguese liqueur made from sour cherries, which is often served in a chocolate cup. Luis also sent us off with great recommendations about places to go in Lisbon during our stay.
So if you do go to Lisbon, I highly recommend taking a class with Cooking Lisbon. They also do a market tour and a pastry class, where you can learn how to make the famous Pasteis De Nata (egg custard tart). We make it a habit of taking a cooking class in every new big city we visit. It’s a great introduction to a new place and an experience we rarely regret. Except for Sean . . .who usually eats all of his food and 1/2 of mine (every single time).