Tortas de Polvo e Companhia

Tortas de Polvo e Companhia, go now before the world finds out and you won’t get a seat. Read Davis McKinney’s full review….

My Girlfriend and I were early for a brunch with friends and killing time one Saturday when we stumbled upon a tiny place with an octopus on the sign outside. We thought we would stop in for a quick snack and glass of wine before the brunch…we were starving. Who knew? Tortas de polvo & Companhia is at the top of the last little side street (Rua Conde São Salvador 52) near the port in Matosinhos. Parallel to the Rio Leca and generally between Brito Capelo and Mercado Metro stations it is easy access via Metro from downtown Porto.

Inside, the small bar and kitchen dominate the space with only 3 tables and a small counter along the side wall next to the kitchen. It’s adorable! The woman managing the customers while taking orders and “translating” for the kitchen spoke some hybrid of French, Portuguese and English. She was as charming as she was attentive to everyone’s needs. 

We started with a glass of perfectly dry Portuguese house white wine from the Douro valley while checking out the menu. The miniature blackboard in the window had a torta de polvo (octopus pie or tart) for €3.50. This is what originally pulled us in and was to be our snack! We miscommunicated the order somewhere between the Portuguese and the French exchange and ended up with two Tortas. What could go wrong? Wrapped in the crust was what appeared to be ground octopus with tomato and mushrooms. The dough was light, warm and both sweet and spicy at the same time. It was a sort of brick red in color. Alongside the torta was a fresh mixed salad of greens, onions and carrots. It was a meal vs. a snack, but we slammed them both down knowing at this point our pending brunch with friends would be reduced to liquids and conversation. With our second glass of wine we also successfully split the “tres polvos” plate which was, as you may have guessed, three different tapas size octopus tastings. One was similar to a ratatouille, another grilled and the third mixed with potatoes and onion and served cold in a perfect cylinder shape. All excellent. Since we were this far in…we went for the dessert. A coffee tasting crème drizzled over the top of thinly sliced white cake of unknown ingredients. We didn’t ask, but it was warm and fresh and similarly sensational. The total bill was just shy of €20 for both of us. 

As we were getting close to the meeting time for brunch we walked around the corner to meet our friends and had another glass of wine while explaining why we were not going to eat! Tortas de polvo & Companhia…it is not to be missed! 

Taberna Dom Castro

Taberna Dom Castro Porto’s answer to the secret restaurant…

If you see this sign you are have found Portuguese culinary nirvana

I was walking down the north end of Rua do Bonjardim near Praca do Marques in Porto one afternoon and noticed a man on a step ladder. I now know him to be Pedro. He looked like he was cleaning the windows of a 19th century townhome. I walked up and asked if he spoke English in my broken Portuguese. He chuckled responding in perfect English and explained that this was actually his restaurant and that he would be open again for dinner at 2000hrs that evening.

Taberna Dom Castro at Rua do Bonjardim 1078 is now a permanent fixture in our lives. Pedro serves delightful local Portuguese meals for lunch or dinner at very reasonable prices. At €14 per person all-inclusive for lunch or dinner, you should always make a reservation! Upon arrival, you ring the doorbell for access because Pedro and his small staff are busy cooking and serving the mix of business people, locals, and tourist clientele.

After calling for reservations, even last min, ring the bell for entry

 

Small and cozy with green checkered table clothes on “picnic” style wood tables and an open kitchen in the back, you will feel at home immediately! Maybe 10 tables in the place. There is no menu of course as all the food is based upon what is fresh for today. Pedro asks if you would like meat or fish and proceeds to describe all the course options which can be tailored to your specific desires. 

On our most recent visit we shared a large platter of freshly grilled piping hot sardines. These are to be eaten whole, head and all, popped into your mouth like candy with a squirt of fresh lemon across the plate. My friend’s two year old daughter was gobbling these down like she was in heaven. Along with the sardines was another platter of breaded pescada branca, a light and mild white fish…warm and a perfect complement to the sardines. On the side was a large steaming bowl of rice with grelo which was more like a soup in consistency. Grelo, a local Portuguese green, is something like a cross between spinach and kale. Tasty with the rice and the broth. The bread basket was filled with various warm Portuguese breads including white, wheat and dark. 

Loving Davis’s recommendations off the common tourist trail of Porto

We ordered a carafe of house white and one of house red and both were perfect with the meal, light and dry. Café (espresso) and bottled water trailed behind. Just when we thought the experience could not be any better….Pedro came by and described the dessert options! Everything is made in the back and we ordered one leite crème, otherwise known as the Portuguese version of crème brulee and a chocolate mousse. Both of these are difficult to describe to the level of the actual experience. The leite crème looks like a creme brulee, but is softer in consistency and a bit more sweet with less vanilla taste. Perfectly torched before it was brought to the table. The cornerstone of the meal for me was the chocolate mousse. It was creamy in texture vs. sponge like and made of dark chocolate with a surprise nibble of random chocolate chunks inside. 

Being raised in a place where most food is manufactured and full of chemicals, it’s still amazing to me to actually taste the ingredients in the food you are eating. Pedro’s, Taberna Dom Castro is a perfect example of classic traditional local Portuguese food at its best. 

WELCOME, AND THANK YOU FOR YOUR VISIT

Thanks for taking the time to get to know the Fernandez family. In 2014, when we were only a two person family, we took off for a year long trip around the world. While this would have been a wonderful point to start a blog we were too distracted with surviving as two New Yorkers completely out of our comfort zone.

In 2018 the family grows by one. With the addition of Olivia we were often met with the phrase “guess you won’t be traveling as much now” or at all. We heard it so much we almost started to believe it ourselves. So as soon as we had the pediatrician’s approval we took off on a 19 hour flight to Hong Kong from Atlanta with three month old Olivia. Olivia did not know it but she was creating two parents that were forced to learn all they could about traveling with children.

It’s our hope that this site will empower you to travel with your family. The benefits of travel don’t require a passport, an extremely long flight, or even a flight at all. You simply need to go to a place you have never been or even a familiar place and look at it in a new way. Taking your family with you, near and far, insures generations to come will have a wonderfully large world view. Expanding who they include when they use a phrase “people like me”…

Davis McKinney Recommends,

Welcome Davis McKinney! Davis will be our expert on all things Porto. Living in Porto he will give you an inside look at restaurants and other activities.

Davis recently completed a career in international business in the information technology sector based in the United States. He has traveled extensively and lived abroad throughout much of his adult life including a number of expatriate assignments in London, Riyadh, Paris and Dublin.

Now retired and living in Porto, Portugal, Davis continues his travels, enjoys sharing these experiences through food and travel writing and is also doing some business consulting in the Portuguese interior design furnishings area supporting his girlfriend’s business.

Davis McKinney doing what he loves, exploring the streets of Porto.

8 Tips to Fly Better with Your Child

When Olivia was 2 months old we were at Rite Aid trying to figure out how to get the white background behind Olivia for her passport photo. There was a moment that we considered one parent holding her up off camera while the picture was taken. After some debate we were allowed to remove the roll down white back drop and place it on a counter to take an aerial shot. This passport photo has taken Olivia with us to Hong Kong, Taiwan, Canada, Scotland, France, Spain and Portugal, in under two years. In those two years we have learned a lot but still have lots more to learn. These are our routines and tips for the best flight experience for you and your family.

#1

Buying the Ticket – Infants under 2 years old fly free as a lap child. If having your child sit on your lap for 6 hrs does not sound like your idea of a vacation you could buy another full price ticket and use your car seat for your child to sit in. A lap seat ticket is free on most domestic flight but on international flights you should expect to pay about 10% of the adult ticket. Most airlines we have used do not have an option to add a lap infant ticket so you have to call to add the lap infant.  *Beware* on some ultra budget airlines like Ryanair, it may be cheaper to buy your infant a seat as their standard infant fee can be higher than a regular seat. If you are flying with a lap baby ask every employee, until you receive, to have an empty seat next to you. Along every stage every worker does have the power to change your seat assignment.

#2

Request a Baby Bassinet when booking – Baby bassinets are first come first serve  request them while you are on the phone with the airline adding your lap child ticket. There are only a handful on each plane so if you wait until check in it will most likely be gone. The bassinets are great for babies to sleep in or to store your diapers and snacks so you don’t have to get up for the overhead bin every 10 minutes.  Its also a way to get a bulkhead seat with extra leg room, a luxury that most airlines charge for now, for free. 

#3

Strollers/Carseats/Baby Carrier – Strollers and cars seats should be checked in at the ticketing counter as soon as you can.  Why would you want to carry all of these things with you around the airport, and gate check them? The less things you need to carry the better and letting your child burn off as much energy as possible, walking around,  before getting on a long flight is always a good idea. If Olivia needs to be carried we use the Lillie Complete Carrier. She can nap in it comfortably and I can usually keep her in through security checkpoints be prepared for a swipe test on your hands if your choose this method. The soft carrier also stores easily in what ever carry on bag we are using. 

#4

What to bring in your Carry On Diaper Bag – Pack enough Diapers/Wipes for the entirety of your flight plus some incase of delays. You don’t want to be stuck at the airport or on the plane without these necessities.  Pack an outfit for the baby as well as the caretaker  because well you know blow outs! You can bring as much liquid for the baby as you need, they don’t follow the 100ml rule most likely they will run a test on your liquids at security. Yet an other benefit of breast feeding is it allows you to bring all the food the baby will need no matter how long the flight. Now that she is older we bring water and snacks, while some flights do give you some food for your lap child its not a guarantee. Bring lots of snacks because no one wants a hungry toddler running around a plane. Now that Olivia is almost a toddler and requires more entertainment I try to pack a new item for each trip. This way we can maximize the time it will entertain her.  It can be stickers, a new book, or a small toy. Reusable stickers are great for window seats and the back of try tables. On our trip to Portugal Olivia was almost 2 years old and we got a “mess free “ coloring book. It worked out great, the color only appears on the special treated pages of the book, even the removal and replacement of the caps on the markers was a game.  The markers only work on special paper so her hands, clothes, and the plane will stay color free.

#5

Take off/Landing – Babies don’t know how to equalize the air pressure in their ears, breastfeeding while takeoff and landing helps. You can also use a pacifier or a sucking candy as they get older. Planes have become a lot better about equalizing the cabin pressure so ear popping is not the pain it once was.

#6

Family Boarding – Take advantage of family boarding. We like to board early so we have time to wipe down the seats, head rest, and tray tables especially when Olivia was only a few months old and her immune system was not as developed. Now, about to turn two years old we are experimenting with the idea to have one parent board for family boarding clean the area and have the other stay outside the plane. This would allow Olivia to burn off some more energy and minimizes the time she needs to sit on the plane unnecessarily. 

#7

Before boarding – Change into a fresh diaper, the bathroom on planes tend to be small and not the cleanest. This way your child can be as comfortable as possible for the flight. We also try to give her as much time to run around before the flight.

#8

Seats – I try to avoid the back of the plane and where the bathrooms are. It can be smelly and noisy. People tend to stand around and stretch out at the back of the plane so it may be distracting for your baby if they are trying to sleep. 

Have any great tips for flying with a child? Please let us know, your idea may be included in our next list.