My Portugal Series - Sarah Copeland

We're thrilled to introduce My Portugal, a new series where we share Portuguese culture through the travel stories of featured guests. Learn about Portugal's must-see regions and hottest restaurants, and receive product recommendations to help create an authentic Portuguese experience this side of the Atlantic.
Sarah Copeland is the author of Instant Family Meals, Every Day is Saturday, Feast and The Newlywed Cookbook, and the host of the Food Network Series Every Day is Saturday, which exemplifies Sarah's standard for gorgeous imagery, luscious recipes, and simple luxuries. Follow Sara on Instagram at @edibleliving, and sign up for her newsletter for unfussy and delicious recipes, travelogues and strategies in and out of the kitchen.
 Portugalia Marketplace: We hear you recently visited Portugal for the first time. Which regions did you explore?
Sarah Copeland: We flew into Lisbon and spent several days there before driving down to the Algarve, beach hopping from town to town chasing a list of best beaches we’d researched before the trip. On the last day, we missed our flight out of Lisbon, and were lucky to have another day to explore Sintra, which was an absolute delight, and the perfect last day.
PM: What was your most memorable food and beverage moment from your trip?
SC: We ate so much, and such exceptional, food all over Portugal — from steaks on the grill, seafood, tinned fish in fine restaurants, to bags of perfect oranges bought roadside and consumed on the beach. But the most memorable for me was this little fish place, Sol e Pesca on Calle Rosa — albeit touristy, it was nearly empty after a big rain. We ate plate after plate of simple tinned fish, smoked mussels, mussels in tomato sauce, sardines, and tuna, all with a crisp green wine.
It was the simpler restaurants that impressed me the most — or I should say, left an impression. And also the coffee shops of Lisbon were electrifying, in the way my first visits to Paris, Vienna, Mexico City were — a gathering place of culture and ideas, dynamic people, and the best pastries and coffee.
PM: Were there any Portuguese dishes or products that you were surprised haven't made their way here to the United States?
SC: I’m very surprised that even after working in food for 20 years, and living in New York City for nearly 15 — that I’d never really had Portuguese food or pastry before. Even though the country itself has become a wildly popular post-pandemic destination, it's as if the food culture hasn’t traveled across the pond in great numbers (is this due to low immigration numbers? Why would you ever leave Portugal?!)
Pastis de Nata, for example, can be found in the US on rare occasions, but I’d love to see it done better and more often. Standing at a bar in Lisbon eating them with a hot black coffee almost daily is a core memory of this trip — just what was needed most days to give us energy we needed to walk up Lisbon’s steep hills.
PM: What would be your top three must-see experiences for someone visiting Portugal for the first time?
SC: I am a die-hard for a pulsing, beautiful city, so I wouldn’t wish anyone to miss Lisbon, or the Algarve (beauty on beauty on beauty), but I think a day in Sintra still rates as pretty top, since it’s widely walkable, magically lush in nature and agriculture, and is more of a bite-sized city to tackle in terms of food and restaurant experiences.
Ilha Santa Maria Cured Sheep Cheese
ABC+ Octopus in Caldeirada Sauce
Nazarena Sardines in Spicy Olive Oil
Acor Tuna Belly in Olive Oil