Note: A SCOBY is an acronym for……..symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. You can get a SCOBY from a friend or grow your own.
Saturday we tried a new Winnipeg coffee shop and bakery that just opened! It is named after Hildegard of Bingen a German composer, poet, writer, mystic and abbess who lived from 1098 to 1179 and was canonized as a saint in 2012. In some of her writings Hildegard extolled the benefits of a grain called spelt. Hildegard’s Bakery specializes in spelt goods.
Hildegard’s is on the corner of Portage and Maryland and is housed in an old building with huge windows that let in tons of light. There are plants everywhere. I was intrigued by a cool living art piece on the wall.
Since my husband Dave has a glass of port every night before he goes to bed taking a port tour in Porto was a MUST on our visit to the city.
Porto is world-renowned for its port wine. In fact port wine originated here and gets its name from the city. Other places in the world produce fortified wines too but only those from the Douro Valley in Portugal are legally allowed to be labeled as port. David our tour guide started by asking each of the participants in our tour group to say where we were from. There were folks from different parts of the United States- Washington, Maryland, Wisconsin, Illinois,New York and people from Romania, Ireland, England, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Poland and three of us from Canada. We walked across the Luiz Bridge to the Gaia side of the beautiful Douro River where there are dozens of port houses along the quay. Up a narrow alley we found our first port house Quinta de Santa Eufemia. In this port house we tasted a ruby port and learned all about the oak barrels the port is stored in and the cork used to stopper the bottles.
On the way to our second port house we saw this amazing piece of street art called Half Rabbit. It is by an artist named Bordalo II. Porto is famous for its street artists many of whom have gained international recognition. This piece was made from trash and discarded items found around the city of Porto. One half has not been painted so you can see what those items are. Next up was the Ramos Pinto gallery. The original owner of this gallery used all kinds of lewd posters to sell his wine around the world in the 1800s. We saw the posters as well as the original owner’s opulent office that included a throne for customers to sit on. But were not allowed to photograph the posters or the office. I tried to get a good picture of our tour guide at this winery because both Dave and I were just blown away by how much she looked and sounded like our friend and former Steinbach neighbour Ingrid. We tasted two ports at Ramos Pinto a white and ruby. Dave and I had such a wonderful time visiting with the young people who shared our table. One couple was from Toronto where the fellow was a graduate student in medicine and his wife a speech pathologist. They both had parents who came to Canada from India to make a better life for their kids. They had traveled back to India with their parents to see relatives many times so we compared notes on our India travels. The young man had played soccer in his earlier university days and had participated in an international tournament in Shenzhen China. We visited Shenzhen at least once a month when we lived in Hong Kong. So we had lots of shared experiences about Shenzhen to discuss. The young woman had just been to Winnipeg to celebrate a friend’s 30th birthday. So we talked about The Forks and Winnipeg restaurants. The other twenty something guy at our table was from New Zealand, had just returned from a year of back packing through Latin America and now had a job in London. I become so heartened about the future when I meet young people like this. Articulate, bright, well-educated, well read, hard working, interested in seeing the world, helping others and broadening their horizons. Our last port house visit was to Porto Cruz. First we went up on the rooftop terrace of the port house. It was packed with people all enjoying the absolutely stunning views of Porto it provided. While Dave chatted with a woman who owned a gourment food company in Ottawa, I took some shots of the city from the roof top.
We tasted four kinds of port here, white, roseau, tawny and vintage. I had a great time visiting with the couple across from me. He was from Germany and she was from Australia. They fell in love when his work took him to Australia for a year. She is visiting him in Europe now and they are trying to decide if they can make a long distance relationship work.
At this port house our guide David gave us lots of tips for how to smell port, swirl our port glass and hold it properly. drink port so we can really enjoy the flavor, and what kinds of foods go best with each type of port. The white port was my personal favorite. At this last port house Dave was deep in conversation about golf, baseball, hockey and the March Madness basketball tournament with a recently retired businessman from Wisconsin. He and his wife have just started tackling their travel bucket list.
We loved our port tour in Porto. Although drinking the port and learning about how it was made was great, visiting with the other people on the tour was definitely the highlight. The world is a much smaller place than we realize and we have so many things in common with our fellow human beings.
No the title of this post does not refer to the two ‘young at heart’, fabulous fellows I am sharing my house with here in Praia da Luz. Ol’ Bastard’s is the name of a great little fish and chips place in Lagos just up the road from where we are. Dave heard it was highly recommended and so we decided to try it last night which happened to be the first night it was open for the tourist season after being closed for several months.
Yesterday was an absolutely gorgeous day – our warmest and finest since arriving in Portugal and I headed into town an hour or so ahead of the guys so I could hike the 4 kilometers along the ocean at a more leisurely pace– stopping to smell the pine and listen to the waves….. but also to do a little shopping in Lagos. I have Easter baskets to fill and friends and families’ birthdays to recognize when I get back home to Canada.
The guys joined me at Ol’ Bastard’s. The host who opened the door and greeted us looked exactly like the fellow on the sign over the front door, but he was anything but an ‘ol’ bastard.’ He was a thirty something young father who spent our entire visit walking around the restaurant with his six month old baby while supervising his friendly staff who provided us with a tasty meal.
Dave and Rudy both had American fish and chips (you can also order Australian or British fish and chips) and I had the fish tacos. Dave and Rudy suggested to our waitress they might want to try offering Canadian fish and chips and serve the fries poutine style.
Ol’ Bastard’s lived up to its hearty recommendation.
On Monday we decided to do another road trip I had cobbled together from information online. Rudy punched all our destinations into his Google Maps and off we went. First destination we’d head to was Barragem da Bravura, according to my sources a lake created by a dam and surrounded by a nice hiking trail. There was a restaurant at the site which was well recommended. I planned for us to have lunch there after our walk.
Despite Rudy’s excellent navigating we didn’t find the lake right away but did find a dead-end. We turned around and it wasn’t long before we arrived at the lake. The restaurant was closed for the season and that put a little damper on the hike idea, since there would be no delicious Portuguese repast awaiting us at its end. Despite this we hiked gamely down to the dam, stopped to appreciate the vistas of the lake it provided, walked across the dam and set off on the hiking trail. It was a nice morning and we walked along for a while until we met some German tourists. Our friend Rudy engaged them in conversation and they told him the hike around the lake took ‘three days’. We were not prepared for a three-day hike so the guys decided we should turn around immediately. They were hungry and we’d need to do a bit of driving to find a lunch spot.
We drove all the way to Silves where we planned to tour the castle in the afternoon. After driving up and down most of the streets in town we settled on a little restaurant that looked ‘authentic’. We wanted to have some real Portuguese food. And I think we did. Dave ordered Cozido à Portuguesa a Portuguese stew that had lots of cabbage, potatoes and carrots, different kinds of sausages, meats and animal fat. It had all been cooked in one pot.
I opted for Frango no churrasco piri piri, basically barbecued chicken glazed with a spicy sauce and Rudy had Bacalhau com Grao which was chick peas and cod surrounded by boiled potatoes and eggs. The portions were more than generous and we were decidedly full!! We just didn’t have room for dessert. Later however Dave bought some juicy oranges at a roadside stand. They were so cheap he bought two big bags, so we’ll be having oranges for dessert for a while.
I did look up the lake trail we aborted and contrary to the German man’s information it does not take three days but rather eight hours to walk around Barragem da Bravura. The restaurant at the head of the trail is opening in the middle of February. We may have to do this part of our road trip again in the coming weeks.
It took Dave a long time to decide where he wanted to eat supper our first night in Lisbon. He checked out a whole bunch of places but finally decided on a small restaurant near our house run by an elderly couple. They couldn’t really speak English but we managed to communicate quite well with hand gestures and pointing to menu items and the owner helped us pick out what to have after supplying us with a plate of olives and a tray of bread.
The owner left to buy the tuna and sea bass we had ordered from a nearby fish merchant. We watched his wife prepare our pitcher of Sangria step by step. She chopped oranges, splashed in wine, added other fruits she had already diced, threw in ice cubes, and then tasted the Sangria herself to be sure she’d got things right. Just then the owner returned with our fish and his wife took it and bustled into the kitchen to cook while the man chatted with all kinds of people from the neighbourhood who stopped in to visit.
The meal was AMAZING! The fish was flavorful and the homemade potato fries done to perfection.
There was a plate of salad for each of us included as well. We ordered a carafe of white wine for our meal. The portions were so hearty we simply COULD NOT find room for dessert although our host really wanted us to.
Before we left I asked our host if he would take a photo with me. I wish I had taken one with his wife too. She came out of the kitchen just before we left and we told her how great the meal had been and she smiled and said some stuff in Portuguese that sounded happy and pleased.
We did stop on the way home to get a bag of oranges. There are orange trees everywhere in Lisbon. The man who sold us the oranges told us they’d be sweet and was he ever right! He also taught us to say obrigado which is thank you in Portuguese.
Later I looked up the restaurant which was called O Tasco Do Vigario on Trip Advisor and everyone just raved about it saying what a fabulous full course meal they’d had with cocktails and wine for two people for only around 20 Euros. Everyone gave it four or five stars! Our experience exactly!
Kudos to Dave for choosing the perfect place by instinct!
If you are like me you may have made a resolution to eat healthier in the new year. Here I’ve illustrated six helpful rules from Michael Pollan’s book Food Rules.
Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and eat supper like a pauper.
Get your caffeine in natural ways from tea and coffee.
The whiter the bread the sooner you’re dead.
Try not to eat alone.
Eat mostly plants.
Avoid foods with sugar as one of the top three ingredients.