Winter gloves

Luvaria

The queen of England loves to wear them and with good reason. Gloves protect our hands from the elements, giving them the feeling of being on a perpetual Summer vacation.

The best place to buy gloves is a small store in downtown Lisbon called Luvaria Ulisses. It has, since 1925, offered a large selection of gloves, so we can always find a pair that is perfect for us. Every time we leave the store, wearing new, elegant gloves we find Winter more appealing.

Luvaria Ulisses is located on Rua do Carmo, 87-A, tel. 213420295, email: info@luvariaulisses.com.

Diamond glasses

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If you’re looking for a souvenir from Portugal that will remind you of your vacation, consider getting a set of Bicos, the beautiful water glasses sold by Vista Alegre.

Their diamond-shaped pattern was first produced in a glass factory in Marinha Grande in 1901. More than a century later, these glasses are still in fashion because, when you use them, they brighten your day.

Click here to see the Vista Alegre website.

Olive oil tastings

Azeite Gallo

Olive oil bottles make great gifts. We recently tasted two interesting, delicious, affordable olive oils. The first is Gallo Azeite Novo. It is made from olives that are still green, giving the oil a spicy, fresh taste. The second is Gallo’s Moonlight Harvest. It is made from olives harvested at night and pressed while they are still cold. It has a smooth, fruity taste.

The quality of olive oil can vary greatly from crop to crop, depending on rainfall and temperature throughout the year. That is why, to ensure consistency of quality and taste, Gallo blends olive oil from different regions.

Each year, Portuguese farmers wait nervously to taste the new olive oil in a ritual called “tiborna.” They dip warm country bread into the oil and, to bring out the flavors, season it with a pinch of salt or a pinch of sugar and cinnamon.

You can invite some friends and enact the same ritual at home. Which olive oil do they prefer? The freshness of young oil or the smoothness of midnight oil? You can peer into their souls by observing their choices.

 

It is generally a good idea to buy the olive oil at the airport’s free shop and take the bottles inside the airplane as a carry on.

Time travel

A vida Portuguesa

Physicists think that traveling to the past is impossible, but Catarina Portas, a Portuguese entrepreneur, proved them wrong. Through painstaking work, she brought back to life many Portuguese products and brands that had disappeared: beautiful baskets, blankets, ceramics, glassware, pottery, toys, and much more. In her wonderful stores we can be archeologists without dealing with dust and visit the past without giving up our smartphone.

Catarina Porta’s stores are called A Vida Portuguesa (the Portuguese life). There are two in Lisbon, one in Chiado (Rua Anchieta, 11, tel.  213-465-073) and the other in Intendente (Largo do Intendente Pina Manique, 23, tel.  211-974-512). There is also one store in Oporto (Rua Galeria de Paris, 20, tel. 222-0220105). Click here for A Vida Portuguesa’s web site. 

One day we’ll go to Viana

Loiça de Viana

Minho (“meeño) is a region in the north of Portugal where mountains and valleys, rivers and sea join forces to create lush landscapes. It is a land of ancient traditions, influenced by the celtic tribes that once populated the area and by the roman invaders who thought these were the Elysian fields.

No one understood Minho better than the poet Pedro Homem de Mello. His famous poem, “One day we’ll go to Viana,” describes the allure of visiting Viana do Castelo, one of the gems of the region.

If you’re lucky enough to fulfill the poet’s dream and go to Viana, look for the beautiful LRV pottery. Local artisans paint these elegant pieces with the patience and care of an era gone by, when time flowed slowly and it was hard to travel to Viana.

“Havemos de Ir a Viana” was set to music and became a hit in the voice of the great fado singer Amália Rodrigues. Our version of this song features Cecília Fontes on voice, Evandra Gonçalves and Teresa Mascarenhas on violin, and Sergio Rebelo on guitar. The piece was mixed and produced by Pedro Rebelo. It was recorded in Chicago, at a time when violinist Evandra Gonçalves was missing her hometown, Viana do Castelo.

Party cookies

PipaBolacha

We’ve all been there. We’re going to a party and would like to take something special, but we ran out of ideas. There’s an easy solution to this problem: just call Pipa Bolacha, maker of brilliant, handmade cookies! You can personalize your cookies by choosing shapes, colors, and designs.

Dinner with an actor? Take cookies with greek comedy and tragedy masks. Lunch with a pilot? Bring cookies with cloud shapes. Breakfast with a poet? Order cookies with words that can be combined into poems. Date with a chemist? Chose symbols from the periodic table (earth metals if the relationship is serious, helium if your feelings are volatile). These delicious cookies will be the life of the party!

You can contact Pipa Bolacha by phone (962 691 389) or email (pipabolacha@gmail.com). Click here to see photos of her recent cookies.

10 original gifts from Portugal

We live in an unusual world. On one hand, we have access to a seemingly endless variety of goods. On the other hand, everybody has access to the same things. So, it is difficult to come up with exciting, unexpected gifts that show the receivers that we thought about them.

Well, we’re here to help. Here are ten gifts that will surprise and delight even those who already have everything. Just click on the bold words to see more information about these items before you contact Santa!

10 best things

1) A vacation in Portugal!
2) Cozy felt blankets from Loja do Burel in Lisbon.
3) A bottle of a delicious cherry liquor called ginginha.
4) Rare, fragrant tea from the Azores.
5) Original t-shirts and sweaters from Perdição de Maria.
6) Amazing olive oil.
7) Amazing vinegar to go with the olive oil.
8) Perfect cutlery from Cutipol.
9) Perfect espresso and tea cups from Vista Alegre.
10) Elegant jewelry from Reverso.