Sweet Sue Busts Us Out

Cats are always helpful when you are in trouble.

The Punchy Lands!

Big ups and thanks to Susan Price for brainstorming with me on this one. In TPL, she’s Sweet Sue. Yo.

If you feel vicious, take it out on the weeds.

V. Shnodgrate, Renowned PL Poet

UntitledSo, there we were.

Sitting in a dark, dank prison. And it was full of lice, ticks, spiders, worms, and the scurvy.

Anyways, it was quite a meeting. Sort of.

We were all sitting in a circle: Schwarz Tauptinker, Bud Parker, Clara Higgins, Gertrude Tauptinker, and of course, this naughty, naughty professor.

None of these dispirited ones were talking either.

“So,” this professor said, breaking the silence. “We’re all going to die, that’s an interest.”

“Shut-up!” Clara snapped.

Schwarz piped up to announce: “I’m not going to die, tell you what, chickit. I’m busting out! Oh yeah, yeah, yeah.”

“Yeah sure, bud,” Parker said. “Like that’s going to happen. We’re like heavily guarded.”

Gertrude started…

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The convent of the blue monks

And today, some tidbits of Portuguese history.

Salt of Portugal

Composit Évora

When we entered the Pousada dos Loios in Évora, we stepped on grounds that have seen war and peace, creation and destruction. The Arabs built a castle on this site that was destroyed by fire during the Portuguese war of 1383-85. In 1485, a local noble built a convent for the order of Loios on top of the castle ruins.

The villagers called the members of this order the blue monks because of the color of their robes. These religious men lived an austere life, working and praying in silence. Their serenity and wisdom led the royal family to choose them as confessors.

The convent was severely damaged by the 1755 earthquake and later rebuilt through the efforts of an enterprising priest. In 1834, Portugal abolished religious orders and the convent was closed down.

In 1963, the ancient building was converted into an historical hotel.  The cells of the monks were turned into comfortable…

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A roadside restaurant

This makes me hungry. I don’t think I have ever visited them. Yet.

Salt of Portugal

Composit Pombal

Before highway A1 was built, it took a long time to drive from the north of Portugal to Lisbon. To make the trip easier to endure, our parents liked to stop at a small roadside restaurant in Pombal called Manjar do Marquês. As soon as we sat down, we were served a delicious tomato rice with a choice of accompaniments, such as codfish cakes, veal milanese, or fried hake.

After a long hiatus, we recently returned to Manjar do Marquês. We entered the restaurant’s new premises just off highway A1 with some trepidation. What if the food is not as wonderful as we remember it? Would we destroy our childhood memories? Luckily, some things never change: the tomato rice is as appetizing as ever.

We asked the owner, Maria Graça, what makes her rice taste so good. She smiled and answered: “My husband really wanted to have a restaurant. I worked for the phone company and had…

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Artistic pots and pans

Another surprise in Portugal.

Salt of Portugal

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Silampos (“seelumpoos”) is a Portuguese brand of cookware that has produced great pots and pans since 1951. Joana Vasconcelos, a Portuguese contemporary artist, used these pans to build giant high-heel shoes. These sculptures were given pride of place in the Room of the Throne when Vasconcelos showed her work at the Ajuda Palace in Lisbon.

What would D. Maria Pia, the queen who lived in this palace, think about Vasconcelos’ work? We like it. And we always liked Silampos pots and pans, even before they mingled with artists in the royal court.

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The Portugal Years: Year Three – The Journey, the Wedding and the Housing

I remember this so well. Found it in On This Cay

The Portugal Years

The Journey

We faced a seven month absence from our home and friends. This trip felt like an unending challenge. It was not a solo flight, nor a flight for two; it was a transatlantic voyage with an infant. Wearing cloth diapers. And she would have no seat. For at least seven hours. (This was not including getting through customs on both end and the long road to Philadelphia). Another couple would be staying in our house while we were gone, and I was uncomfortable about that. Then, before we could leave, we had to find a place to board our Samantha cat. It would not have been my first choice, or any choice at all. She loved me and trusted me, and I was leaving for what would be, for her, an eternity.

The flight was better than I expected. Bethy was eating food, but was still nursing, so…

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Bolo Bolacha

It’s a good thing that we can’t get fat by reading about these treats.

Salt of Portugal

Bolo de bolacha

Plato thought that the circle was a symbol of the divine. Alberti, an Italian architect, considered it the perfect shape. But no one was more obsessed with the circle than Guarino Guarini, a brilliant Baroque architect. His buildings are made of concave and convex spaces delineated by circles. One of his most important works, the church of Santa Maria da Divina Providência in Lisbon, was famous for its undulating facade. Sadly, the church was destroyed by the 1775 earthquake.

By happenstance, the circular shapes included in Guarini’s treatise, Architettura Civile, resurfaced in Portugal in the 20th century in the design of the popular bolo bolacha (biscuit cake). This cake is made with the circular Maria biscuits invented in 1874 by an English baker to celebrate the marriage of the Duke of Edinburgh with the Russian Duchess Maria Alexandrovna. To make the cake, the biscuits are dipped in strong coffee, layered with buttercream and then assembled according to designs…

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Lisbon treasures

There is nothing like the Portuguese tiles.

Salt of Portugal

Composit Viuva Lamego

We’re often asked whether you can see Lisbon in a day or two. Sure, you can drink an espresso at Brasileira, take a brisk walk through Rossio and Terreiro do Paço, climb to Alfama to tour the castle, and rush right back down to go to Belém. Once there, you can try the famous Pasteis de Belém and go for a quick visit of the Jerónimos monastery and the Belém tower.

You’ll have seen a lot, but you will not know Lisbon. The city doesn’t reveal itself on a one night stand. To understand Lisbon, you must take the time to walk around and discover its many hidden gems.

One of these gems is Viúva Lamego, a store that has sold handmade tiles and ceramics since 1849. The blue-tiled back of the building faces the bustling Avenida Almirante Reis. If you walk around in search of the main entrance, you’ll be rewarded with the sight…

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Eating by the sea in Azores

I’ve not had the privilege of visiting the Azores, but I’ve flown over them a few times. They are beautiful.

Salt of Portugal

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Beira Mar, a family-owned restaurant in the Azores island of Terceira, has been a favorite dinning destination for four decades. It is always busy so, if you don’t have a reservation,  you’ll probably have to wait for a table.

The service is orchestrated by a small troupe of waiters who move with elegance and speak with eloquence about fish and seafood. We could not tell whether they had trained as ballet dancers or as marine biologists.

Our meal started with “cracas,” a local type of seafood that has a delicate crab-like meat and a wonderful salty juice. We then sampled some orange delicacies called lapas that were briny and full of flavor.

Next, we had some amazing boca negra (black mouth), a fish that in continental Portugal we call cantaril. We also tried some wonderful species that were new to us: cantaro, bicudas, and lírio. They were all incredibly fresh and arrived at the table…

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The coolest place in Viseu

For being one of the smaller country they have so many of wonderful places to visit.

Salt of Portugal

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The coolest place in Viseu is called Carmo 81. It is an art gallery where you can have a drink, listen to live music, watch a movie, attend a workshop or simply hang out. Located on a winding street in the heart of the old city, the name of the gallery doubles as its address: Rua do Carmo, 81.

The gallery occupies a space that was for many years a farming equipment store. The thick granite walls and elegant oak beans retired from a hard life of selling irrigation equipment to pursue their dream of being surrounded by art.

Viseu is already the coolest place in Portugal during July, when the Ephemeral Gardens festival fills this ancient city with art installations, live music and modern dancing. Now, with Carmo 81, Viseu is cool all year round!

Carmo 81 is located on Rua do Carmo 81, Viseu, tel. 232 094 366. Click here to see…

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