Dona Luisa’s famous codfish recipe

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A year ago we had a memorable meal at Solar dos Amigos, a restaurant in the small village of Guisado near Caldas da Rainha. We returned this year for another great experience. Our lunch started with succulent lamb chops, grilled to perfection. They were followed by a wispy, tasty “Bacalhau à Campino” (peasant style codfish) served inside the hearty country bread that is baked at the restaurant.

Dona Luisa Nunes, the restaurant’s owner and chef, is in great form and so is her octogenarian father who continues to produce a delightful wine that pairs perfectly with the food served at the Solar.

When we praised her famous codfish Campino style, dona Luisa offered to give us the recipe so we could share it with you, dear reader. Follow the instructions and you’ll have a delicious codfish meal. But, will it taste as good as when dona Luisa prepares it?  Not a chance!

Codfish Campino style

Soak 4 slices of salted codfish for two days, changing the water periodically to remove the salt.

Boil the cod for 15 minutes. Reserve the water, remove the skin and the bones, and shred the fish by hand. Boil a green cabbage and drain the water (dona Luisa favors a pusa-drum-head cabbage, known in Portugal as “repolho coração de boi”).  Open the top of a country bread, remove the inside of the bread and soak it for 5 minutes in the water used to boil the codfish. Carefully drain the water from the bread.

Combine olive oil and sliced garlic in a frying pan. Add the soaked bread, the shredded codfish, the cabbage and 2 pounds of cooked red beans. Season with salt and pepper and let the mixture simmer gently for a few minutes. Place the mixture inside the country bread, cover with the bread lid, season with olive oil and place in the oven for a few minutes, until the bread turns golden. Decorate with parsley sprigs and serve.

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 blessing of the breeze

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When you look out the window from your room at the Pamela pousada, you understand why the medieval king Sancho I built a castle on this location. You see mountains and valleys and the sea in the distance. Who would not want to conquer this piece of paradise? A castle was needed to ward off invaders.

The pousada and the surrounding castle are a spectacular wedding venue. There is a terrace called Pátio do Pessegueiro with a fabulous view of Troia and Setúbal and an indoor courtyard that is perfect for a banquet.

The restaurant staff told us how much they look forward to the wedding services. “It’s hard work but it is very rewarding to see two people start a happy life together.” How do you know the marriage will be blissful?, we asked. “There’s an old belief that when the wedding is blessed by the breeze the marriage is happy. And there’s always a breeze in Palmela.”

Here’s a link to the pousadas’ website. You can find a large collection of photos of the pousadas at www.mariarebelophotography.com.

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!

 

12 wishes

Sunset-at-Penha-Longa

A thin line separates the year that was from the year that will be. In Portugal, we prepare for the magical moment when time crosses this line with 12 raisins in our hand. With each of the 12 clock strokes, we eat a raisin and make a silent wish.

This year we’ll save a raisin for you, dear reader, to wish that you’ll come experience the radiant beauty of Portugal.

Happy New Year!

Sea dance

DCIM103GOPRO Like a child who can’t wait, the sea brought its gifts today. It asked the clouds to dress in white, lavender and yellow. It convinced the sun to warm up the salty air. And then the waves danced. Arabesques of water, pirouettes of foam. We wish you were here to share in the indescribable beauty of the Portuguese sea.

The art of seeing

Pedras na praia

We can be artists without drawing, painting, dancing or playing music. All we need is to see the world with child-like wonder. Here’s how Lourdes de Castro, a great Portuguese artist, demonstrates the art of seeing:

“When the tide is low, I hear the sound of the waves pouring over the stones, rolling them day and night, for years, centuries until pieces of basalt become smooth. A pebble is a work of art!”

Portugal’s landscape is an immense canvas inviting you to become an artist. Come and see!

A romantic proposal

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Perhaps you found your true love and would like to propose in a romantic, unforgettable way. If, after watching numerous black-and-white movies you still have no ideas, we have a suggestion.

Invite your loved one for a weekend in Lisbon. Without revealing your intentions, drive to the location in the photo in the end of the afternoon, an hour or two before sunset. Take a bouquet of flowers tied with a ribbon that has two pieces of lead (one to use and the other to keep as a memento). Each piece of lead should have your two initials carved.

Find the perfect moment to say: “When ancient Greeks made eternal vows, they threw a piece of lead in the ocean and promised to keep their vows until the lead floated. I want to do the same; I’ll love you until this lead floats.” Throw one of the pieces of lead in the ocean with a dramatic gesture. Take some beautiful photos and celebrate with some great Portuguese espumante.

The gazebo in the photo is part of the Casa do Gato Cinzento estate, located between the Consolação and the São Bernardino beach. It is private property, so please ask the caretaker permission to let you in.