First Tastes of Portugal: Fried Little Fish and Tentacles

Two hours after landing in Oporto, we’re hot on the trail of two essentials: sardines and octopus.

Oh—and wine! Well, that’s not too hard to find around these parts. Nor are the first two.

Oporto's Abadia: good, typical local fare, Tim Pawsey photo

Down a narrow side street, not far from our hotel, in the centre of the old town, we discover capacious, two-tiered Abadia, where the food is typically Portuguese: fresh, very local and uncomplicated—and served in abundant portions.

Small sardines or Joaquinsinhos (the big ones are now out of season) are flash-fried and very fresh, served simply with salad of lettuce and tomatoes. We wash them down with Borges Vinho Branco, its clean citrus and mineral cutting the richness of the sardines.

'Spoon tender' octopus, Tim Pawsey photo

However, the real treat of the evening is the octopus, that comes with fried green peppers, onions and roasted skin-on small potatoes with garbanzo beans (Pulvo a Lagareiro). We watch as the waiter cuts them into manageable sized pieces… With a spoon!

The flesh (which has been made tender by alternating in boiling and cold water) is mild tasting and very fresh. But, even more surprising, the red beans and rice with it comes with this are absolutely delicious.

We sip on full-bodied Dao Casa de Santar 07—and congratulate ourselves on our lucky find.

Portugal is off to a good start!

By | 2018-01-21T15:05:42+00:00 November 10th, 2010|Belly's Budget Best, Hired Belly's Best Wines, Top Drops, Travel|2 Comments

About the Author:

Tim has been covering the food and wine revolution for about 20 kilos. Count 15 kg alone thanks to the blossoming cuisine and wine culture of British Columbia, Canada. Tim’s hallmark is seeking out and recommending value wines from BC and around the world that offer quality at every level. He also scopes out noteworthy restaurants that live up to their promises—and often over deliver. Readers depend on the Hired Belly for his “Belly’s Best” and “Belly’s Budget Best” picks to help them find the right wine for the occasion. He writes, tweets and shoots his own images for columns in the Vancouver Courier and North Shore News. He also contributes to WHERE Vancouver magazine, as well as to several other publications. They include Taste magazine, Tidings Magazine, and Montecristo. His columns are frequently picked up by major newspapers across Canada. Tim is a frequent judge for wine competitions, such as Vancouver Magazine International Wine Awards. He is a founding judge of The BC Lieutenant Governor’s Awards for Excellence in Wine. He is frequently invited to judge at The BC Wine Awards, and others. Tim has traveled to taste in many of the world’s leading wine regions, most recently in Burgundy, Argentina and Chile.


  1. Tweets that mention First Tastes of Portugal: Fried Little Fish and Tentacles — Hired Belly -- November 10, 2010 at 8:48 am

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Harry Hertscheg, Tim Pawsey. Tim Pawsey said: First Tastes of Portugal: Fried Little Fish and Tentacles enjoyed with @HHonwine […]

  2. […] we know: there’s nothing like fresh sardines, if you can get them—but most of us can’t that easily. Plus, even though this mini-tome is all […]

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