Al Fresco Indulgence


Sofitel Lisbon asked me out on a special date: a picnic, no less, at Parque Eduardo VII. We met at the hotel, strategically located half way down Avenida da Liberdade, where I enjoyed a refreshing glass of chardonnay at the hotel’s restaurant Ad Lib, while lunch stocked was being stocked in an auto rickshaw, known in Lisbon by its Thai denomination, tuk-tuk.

I met Chef Daniel Schlaipfer, a fun and easy going Bavarian, who came to Portugal more than fifteen years ago, having worked at Fortaleza do Guincho and Farol Design Hotel. Ad Lib is Avenida da Liberdade’s finest kitchen with a demanding local clientele besides the Sofitel’s guests. Daniel enjoys Portuguese food a lot, and proudly showcases local produce and delicacies in a very contemporary Gallo-German fashion.

So off we went to Parque Eduardo VII, a very large sloping park, that emulates the grand promenades of yore, sitting atop the very heart of Lisbon, the Marquis of Pombal roundabout. A very popular place for dog owners and parents with young children (two often overlapping categories), it’s also the home of “Estufa Fria”, the cold greenhouse, one of Lisbon’s most spectacular and underrated sites. Our spot was right behind the 25-meter-high pole from which Portugal’s largest flag is sometimes waving. Not today. The view, however was stunning, and I had the whole city at my feet. The part that that really counts anyway.

Picnic was a grand affair, with loads of fruit, baguettes, freshly squeezed juices, a bottle of Clicquot, half a pig’s worth of chorizo and prosciutto, terrines, jams, a variety of cheeses and delicious salmon wraps, small pies and croquettes. Had there been an omelette and this was brunch in the park. The sun was shining bright, the city buzz seemed far away and the grass felt inviting, so after lunch I just laid there for the better part of the afternoon tanning and taking in the view. Pure indulgence.


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