November 24, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Normally, we dread the arrival of Winter, but this year we look forward to the cold and rainy months. It’s all because of Loja do Burel, a marvelous new store in the Chiado neighborhood. Burel (pronounced “bhoorhel”) is a beautiful wool felt produced in the Estrela mountain to make capes for shepherds. Loja do Burel turns this wonderful felt into the prettiest blankets we have ever seen. We can’t wait to cosy up with them by the fire drinking a glass of port. So, Winter, we welcome you!
November 3, 2013 § 2 Comments
When Catherine of Braganza, a Portuguese princess, married King Charles II in 1662, her fabulous dowry included the city of Bombay. But her most enduring gift to the British people was the habit of drinking tea. This drink, once reserved for Buddhist monks, was quickly adopted by the royal court. Later, tea houses became popular, serving as gathering places that helped disseminate the ideas of the age of enlightenment.
Most tea consumed around the world comes from large industrial plantations. One of the last surviving artisanal tea estates is Gorreana, in the island of S. Miguel in the Azores. Their tea plants were brought from China in 1874. They pick, select, and dry the leaves by hand to produce wonderfully fragrant organic green and black tea.
If you’re seeking the inner peace of a buddhist monk, the wisdom of the age of enlightenment, or a unique gift for a friend, give this delicious tea a try.
You can order Gorreana tea from A Vida Portuguesa, an online store that sells many other great Portuguese products. Click here for their web site.
September 26, 2013 § 2 Comments
In 1789, Domingos Pereira opened Velas Loreto, an elegant candle store near Chiado. Candles were an essential commodity, so the store prospered despite the Napoleonic invasions.
Initially, Velas Loreto produced only white candles. That all changed in 1845, when the great Hungarian pianist Franz Liszt arrived in Lisbon to play at the São Carlos opera house. Liszt ordered red candles from Velas Loreto to decorate São Carlos. His brilliant performance and the novelty candles were the event of the year.
There are those who say that offering a loved one candles from Velas Loreto makes love endure. We cannot vouch for the veracity of this claim. All we know, is that there’s something magical about this store that outlasted Napoleon’s empire and continues to illuminate Lisbon.
Velas Loreto is located on Rua do Loreto 53-59 in Lisbon. Their telephone number is 213425387.
July 26, 2013 § Leave a Comment
If you’re looking for a present for a gourmet friend, look no further: buy a bottle of Moura Alves vinegar. While most vinegar is made with the artificial addition of acetic acid, Moura Alves is produced naturally.
Wine from the Bairrada region is combined with acetic bacteria and left in oak barrels while the bacteria converts alcohol into acetic acid. It’s a very slow process: it takes ten years to reach the ideal level of acidity. But, if you try this vinegar, you’ll see it’s worth the wait.
Moura Alves vinegar is available in many gourmet stores and at El Corte Inglés, at the crossing of Avenidas António Augusto de Aguiar, Marquês de Fronteira e Sidónio Pais in Lisbon, tel 213 711 700. You can also order it from the web site A Vida Portuguesa, click here.
May 12, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Much of a vacation’s pleasure comes from anticipation. The joy of saying: my holiday in Portugal starts next week! The vacation begins and you relax, enjoying the food and scenery. Then, someone up there presses the remote control and puts time on fast forward. Soon, you’re counting how many days are left, feeling the vacation blues.
Luckily, a cure for this malaise is right at hand: simply go shopping for some great souvenirs! No, we’re not talking about useless knick knacks. Buy items you can wear, like the T-shirts produced by the brand Perdição de Maria (Maria’s perdition). They feature local motifs: sardines, lamp posts, trams, Portuguese guitars, etc. You can’t buy these clothes anywhere else, they’re a piece of vacation you can take home. Because every time you wear them they’ll remind you of the fun you had in Portugal.
You can buy Perdição de Maria’s clothes in many stores in Lisbon. One convenient shop is Portfolio at the airport.
August 18, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Lisbon is a city that always took its jewelry seriously. In his 1610 census of Lisbon, Friar Nicolau de Almeida counted 70 goldsmiths and 62 silversmiths. Gil Vicente, one of Portugal’s greatest playwrights, was also a jeweler. And two of Lisbon’s main streets are Rua do Ouro (gold street) and Rua da Prata (silver street).
It should come as no surprise that Lisbon is a great place to learn the art and craft of jewelry making. You can take courses at Reverso, a wonderful jewelry gallery. These classes are a great way to make your vacation memorable and learn something precious.
Click here to see the schedule of Reverso’s courses, so you’ll know when to book your flight to Lisbon!
February 6, 2012 § Leave a Comment
A cataplana is a copper pan made of two clam shells that can be sealed with a clamp. The origins of this cooking contraption are lost in time. In the early 20th century Portuguese hunters carried cataplanas loaded with onions and tomatoes, so they could cook game on a wood fire. Later, in the 1960s, the cataplana became a popular way to cook fish and shellfish in the Algarve. Since then, it has become a hallmark of Portuguese cooking. There is something magical about the moment when the waiter brings a cataplana to the table. And it is not hard to imagine that, as he opens the pan, he murmurs the same secret incantation used in the banquets of the Arabian Nights to make the meal unforgettable.
You can buy a cataplana at Loja Pollux Hotelaria, Rua da Madalena, 263, Lisboa, tel. 218-811-291, email: email@example.com.
December 12, 2011 § 4 Comments
Coffee lovers are on a constant search for aromatic coffee beans, roasted to perfection. They get up early on weekends to study Italian, hoping to uncover the nuances lost in the translation of their espresso-machine manual. They mumble incantations like “ruotare la manopola in senso antiorario per aprire il rubinetto di erogazione vapore” with a passion normally reserved for the poetry of Dante. They listen in rapture to the machine’s rumbles as the water rushes through the coffee at the ideal pressure. But, after all this effort, they pour their brew into bulky, thick porcelain cups. European cafés use these cups, they tell you with pride. True, but cafés only use them because they rarely break. The coffee tastes so much better in thin coffee cups! Vista Alegre, the great Portuguese porcelain maker, produces the best espresso cups we have ever tried. They have the perfect shape and come in bright, joyful colors. These cups are hard to find outside of Portugal. So, if you are visiting Portugal, here’s your chance to bring something unique to your java friends.
Here is a link to the Vista Alegre website.
November 21, 2011 § Leave a Comment
“Verso” means rhyme. “Reverso” means the other side. Portugal has a long jewelry tradition. At Reverso you see the other side: the work of contemporary jewelers, not just from Portugal but from all over the world. Many of these pieces are quite affordable. Their value is not measured in ounces and carats but in originality and creativity. Paula Crespo, Reverso’s owner, loves to show her work and that of other artists. And she makes Reverso rhyme with elegance.
Galeria Reverso, Rua da Esperança, nº 59/61, 1200 – 655 Lisboa, Tel. 213 951 407, firstname.lastname@example.org, click here for website.
November 7, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Portugal has produced tiles (“azulejos”) since the 15th century. This production reached its golden age in the 18th century, when beautiful tiles were used to decorate grand palaces and elegant manor houses. Wouldn’t it be great if you could travel back in time and order tiles from an 18th century master craftsman? Well, you can. Bicesse, a tile factory near Lisbon, makes tiles of pure clay, painted and glazed by hand, just like in the 18th century. These tiles have the exquisite color nuances of a Rothko painting and the irregular reflections of an ancient mirror. Like fingerprints, no two tiles are exactly alike. Each is a unique work of art.
Cerâmica de Bicesse, Rua da Chapaneira, 81,Bicesse2645-325 Alcabideche (Cascais), Tel. 214 690 528, email email@example.com, click here for website.