Noah surf house

Noah Composit

If you’re looking for the perfect place for a romantic date, we suggest you try Noah Surf House, a restaurant in the Santa Cruz beach, 40 miles north of Lisbon.

The restaurant building is minimalistic, designed to frame the gorgeous ocean views. The space is furnished with colorful tables and benches made from reclaimed wood, as if to stress that everything on the beach is a gift from the sea. The sea is also the inspiration for the menu, which includes clams Bulhão Pato, fish soup, shrimp with garlic, octopus salad, seafood rice, and fried fish with tomato rice.

If you go to Noah for lunch during Fall or Winter you might have the privilege of having this magical place to yourself. If you go for dinner during Spring or Summer, you’re likely to find the restaurant full of beautiful people who gather here to enjoy the setting of the sun.

It is impossible not to fall in love with Noah. And it is easy to fall in love with the person who brought you there.

Noah Surf House is on Avenida do Atlantico, A dos Cunhados,  tel 261 932 355. Click here for their web site.

 

Beauty in the details

Desenhos de Janelas
Varandas, Rui Barreiros Duarte, ink on paper, 2016.

When you visit Portugal you need to sleep well to rest your eyes, because as soon as you wake up there’s so much to see!

A walk in an old neighborhood is a visual feast of architectural details. Doors, windows, roofs, and balconies tell us about the craftsmanship of their builders and the dreams of their owners. Each is a distinctive brush stroke on the beautiful canvas that is Portugal.

Ebora cerealis

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If you’re traveling in Alentejo, follow the advice of ancient travelers and spend some time in Évora. The city is included in the Antonine itinerary and is mentioned in Pliny the Elder’s Natural History as Ebora Cerealis in reference to the surrounding fields of cereals.

Évora was occupied by Celts, Gauls, Phoenicians, and Persians. But it was Quintus Sertorius, the general who conquered the city in 80 B.C., that gave Évora its architectural jewel: a Roman temple with elegant corinthian columns. Known as the temple of Diana, it is more likely to have been dedicated to Jupiter.

There’s much to see in Evora: a beautiful basilica, elegant university buildings, and peaceful convents. And the food and wine are great everywhere.  You can choose a restaurant blindfolded and have a wonderful meal. If Pliny was writing today, he might call the city Ebora Delicia.

The apple of paradise

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The best apple we’ve ever tried is a Portuguese variety called Bravo de Esmolfe. It was discovered two centuries ago in a small Beira-Alta village called Esmolfe.

You can find prettier apples, but don’t be fooled by the unassuming look of Bravo de Esmolfe. Its taste is a revelation, the perfect combination of sweetness and tartness. And its inside is so full of antioxidants that it makes us feel immortal.

Biting into a Bravo de Esmolfe helps us understand Adam’s temptation and makes us wonder whether the village of Esmolfe was once the Garden of Eden.

If you visit Portugal in Fall or Winter, don’t miss the chance to try Bravo de Esmolfe, an apple that belongs in paradise.

The glorious food of a rural past

Composit - solar dos amigosWhen you dine at Solar dos Amigos, you take a trip back to a time when people grew their own food, so cooking was informed by a deep knowledge of ingredients.

We realized that our meal was going to be extraordinary when Luisa Nunes, the restaurant owner, brought a small plate of pataniscas (fried codfish) that were wonderfully light and full of flavor. We liked them so much that we tried two other codfish preparations. The first was Tiborna, roasted codfish combined with potatoes, olive oil, and garlic. It is a traditional recipe, but this version shined because of the pristine ingredients and immaculate execution. The second was codfish campino style, a delicious, airy combination with cabbage and white beans baked inside a country bread.

Our first meat dish, fried lamb chops, reminded us of how extraordinary the taste of lamb can be. The grand finale was Cascos à Ribatejo—veal grilled in the huge fireplace of the main dining room. The veal was succulent, tender, and deeply satisfying.

Throughout the meal, different types of bread and vegetable sides were brought to our table: an unforgettable warm corn bread (broa) seasoned with garlic and olive oil, a hearty bean rice, and much more. The food was blissfuly married with the house wine, a bold red produced by Luisa’s octogenarian father.

Luisa is a master of the art of hospitality. Even though the restaurant has four spacious dining rooms, she seems to be everywhere, chatting with regulars, welcoming new clients, making sure the food and service are perfect. Luisa loves the restaurant so much that she never vacations and feels bored on Wednesdays, the day Solar dos Amigos closes. It is her passion that makes dining at Solar dos Amigos such an exceptional experience.

The greatest food in Portugal was not inspired by the kitchens of palaces and noble houses. It comes from a rural tradition that is perfectly reflected in the food of Solar dos Amigos.

Solar dos Amigos is located on a small village called Guisado, 100 km north of Lisbon. The restaurant’s address is Rua Principal, 49, Guisado, Caldas da Rainha. Even though the restaurant is large, it is a good idea to make reservations. Their telephone number is 262-877-135. Click here for their website.

 

The first sunset

The Romans marked each new year by hammering a nail into the door post of the temple of Jupiter. We prefer to photograph the sunset on the first day of the year, hoping it holds a clue for what the year will bring.

Today, the sun slept all day behind clouds. But at the last moment, it spread its rays and lit the sky, as if to reassure us that there will be many beautiful sunsets in the New Year.  We hope you’ll come to Portugal to share some of these sunsets with us. Happy New Year!

 

Wood saints

Christmas Card 2015

The Grão Vasco museum in Viseu houses an exquisite collection of wood statues from the 18th century. The names of the sculptors who created these pieces have long been lost. What remains is the mastery with which they used their mallets and chisels to breathe life into wood.

The Grão Vasco museum is located at Adro Sé in Viseu, tel 232 422 049.