Clams in a white wine, garlic, parsley, lemon and mustard broth isn’t a bad start to a simple evening meal, is it?
Greg, the hospitable Discover Portugal travel agent knows Diego, the owner of the Cantinao de Bem Estar (A little corner of well being) restaurant in a narrow cobbled street running up the hill behind our hotel. The line is long, but, wink-wink, we’re in like Flynn. Diego is all bluster; short and corpulent; and given to crankiness, but treats us like royalty as he squeezes us (and Greg) into a corner table.
The restaurant is over-lit and very crowded; just a ‘hole in the wall’ restaurant for locals; but isn’t that what we always hope to find in a new city? Where’s my spoon to drink the clam broth? Nah, I have to leave some room for the whole grilled bream. The salted and charred crispy skin is better than any salted pork crackling I’ve ever tasted. And no reflux! We must bring Edmundo and the Turners back here when they arrive.
We go off to a birthday party in a swish neighbourhood dwelling, the home of Greg’s friends Spanish Julio and English Samuel.
The guests are slightly younger than I, and as many ladies who have a penchant for ladies, as there are others. I behave as a perfect 66 year-old gentleman with youthful exuberance, and wouldn’t dream of reminding the 44 year-old English host of his momentary lapse of etiquette in offering ‘more’ wine, would I? Talking to the girls, I don’t have too much to offer on the singing styles of Beyonce and Madonna, and don’t share the enthusiasm of the nearing-50 year-old, exotic lady from Mozambique for Tina Turner’s 70 year-old legs!
I get home at 1.30 am for a sleep of the Just. I left Sydney more than 48 hours ago and really need it.