Peixola, Lisbon

Food and travelling go hand in hand.

Even for those who see food as mere fuel, it's hard to believe that our memories of travelling aren't shaped by the food we ate, the places we ate it, and the people we ate it with.
Perhaps food is more central to my travelling plans than most, as my pre-travel preparation is centred more so around my prospective meals than the most popular monuments. For me, it's worth it. I'm more likely to remember a fantastic dish than another church, another cathedral, another catacomb.

This brings us to Lisbon - more specifically to Peixola. Keen to sample the cream of the Portuguese capital's seafood crop without battling the queues at Cervejaria Ramiro, I plumped for this open-kitchen offering instead. And what was passed over the bar was rather glorious.

Tiny tacos topped with spicy prawns and crisp John Dory, sprinkled with jewels of punchy onion salsa. More John Dory, as a main this time, arrived atop a bed of smooth wasabi mash - a genius concept that I will recreate at home - while a red pepper confit adorned plump, scarlet Mozambique prawns. Experience has fostered a belief in me that fish is best served simple, but some dishes throw this conviction out of the park. The seafood cookery at Peixola showcases a real understanding of texture and flavour, uniting each element on the plate in harmony.

The crème brûlée was good. Although silky smooth with a satisfying snap as my spoon plunged into the burnished sugar, it was paled next to the salted caramel fondant that stole the show. As we broke the outer case we released a river of molten raspberry jam, evoking the steamed jam puddings of my childhood in the most wonderful way, this time with a touch of sophistication. The accompanying sorbet and biscuit crumble seemed superfluous, and the salted caramel element didn't come through, but it didn't matter. Nothing is more delicious than nostalgia, and Peixola, for that, you have my heart.