Chocolate tastes new again

Susan P:

Chocolate is always a good pick!

Originally posted on Salt of Portugal:

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Isabel Landeau is a designer who, as a hobby, baked chocolate cakes to share with her friends. She loved so much the oohs and aahs that her cakes inspired, that she became obsessed with perfecting her recipe. For nine months, she experimented with different chocolates and cocoas. The result is a master piece, a cake that is deliciously light but layered with exquisite chocolate flavors.

When Landeau opened a store to share her creation with the world, she was surprised at the praise lavished by the international press (the New York Times called her cake “devilishly good”). Her store has become an obligatory place of pilgrimage for chocolate lovers.

Landeau makes chocolate taste as exciting as when it was brought to Europe in the 16th century, as exotic as when it was used by Aztecs in religious cerimonies. Try a slice of Landeau cake and you’ll see.

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The Miramar beach

Susan P:

More beauty of Portugal. A beach with a church on it,.

Originally posted on Salt of Portugal:

Igreja na praia-2One of the most beautiful beaches in Portugal is Miramar, near Oporto. It has a long stretch of sand bathed by green and blue water. But what makes this beach so special, is an old church built on rocks by the sea on the same place where there was once a pagan temple.

As we entered the church courtyard, we felt surrounded by the sea; dazzled by its sight, soothed by its sound, intoxicated by its scent.

It is easy to understand why this location has been a place of worship for centuries. Faced with such immense beauty, how can we not give thanks to its creator?

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A pink palace in the Algarve

Susan P:

What a place to stay!

Originally posted on Salt of Portugal:

358 - Pousada de Estói - @mariarebelophotography.comFIt takes a long time to build a beautiful palace. An Algarve aristocrat started in 1840 to build the Estoi palace in an estate near Faro. When he died, his son took over. But by 1893, the building was still unfinished and seemed destined to become a decorative ruin. It was then that a wealthy landowner bought the palace and spent a fortune on its completion. The sumptuous inauguration took place in May 1909. Decades later, the palace was abandoned.

In 2009, a century after its inauguration, Estoi opened once again, this time as a luxury historical hotel. It is a place out of a fairytale, its opulent salons and elegant gardens restored to their original glory.

Our stay at Estoi was an extraordinary experience. Some days, we relaxed by the pool and spent time admiring the statues, fountains and myriad of architectural details. Other days, we went to the…

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The Portugal Adventure – I Love Coffee, I Love Tea

It may have been the seven-hour flight over the Atlantic. Perhaps the loss of seven hours of my life added to it. I was in a place where my ability to speak English fluently was of minimal benefit. Or it could have been the shock of a handshake instead of the expected kiss factored into it.

My senses went on overdrive. It went beyond the whiff of diesel fumes. It was just something for which I had no olfactory memories. To this day, if you were to blindfold me, and open a jar full of Portuguese air under my nose, I would immediately iria começar a falar Português. The language reverberated in my ears. Sounding like a merging of Spanish and French. I kept trying to hear the conversation. Unsuccessfully! The golden orb in the azure sky gently warmed the morning without the harsh summer blast to which I was accustomed in the states.

Harry interrupted my reverie to ask if those two suitcases were all there was of my luggage. When I admitted that they were, he grinned and said, “I’ve never known a woman to travel with so little luggage.” Score? I thought I had brought a lot. It had seemed more than enough as I had dragged it through the airport. Was it meant as a compliment?

We stopped in front of a white car where Harry deposited my bags in the trunk.  As he put the key in the ignition, I noticed the flow of the traffic. The cars were small, and zipping around like they were practicing for Grand Prix of Monaco.  Suddenly, we were in the flow. Harry took me on a roundabout but short sightseeing excursion of which I remember little apart from my white knuckles. Then he announced that we needed to get moving. He was taking me to eat breakfast with some of the Portugal team.

We arrived in good time. As we stepped out of car, the door opened to a warm welcome. The field director’s wife had prepared an attractive continental breakfast which was reposing on the table.

I was the novelty of the month. Harry had a woman in tow, a wonder that no one had ever expected of Harry. And they expected me to talk. Now, nothing renders an introvert more incapable of conversation than a room full of new acquaintances whose curiosity is killing them. But Harry came to my rescue with a diversionary tactic. He asked for a teabag, then picked up the coffee pot and poured coffee it over his teabag.

 

Europe’s most western vineyards

Susan P:

Portuguese vineyard.

Originally posted on Salt of Portugal:

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Baron Bodo Von Bruemmer, born in Tsarist Russia in 11/11/1911, made a fortune working as a banker in Switzerland. Then, at age 51, he was diagnosed with a terminal disease and told he had two years to live. He decided to look for a place where, after his passing, his wife could live without having to worry about money.

Von Bruemmer came to Portugal and fell in love with the country. He bought Casal de Santa Maria, a farm in Colares near Sintra. There, he spent his days breeding Arabian horses and planting roses. The airs of Colares nursed the baron back to health and today, at 104 years of age, he continues to thrive.

In 2007, shortly after his 96th birthday, Von Bruemmer felt the urge to plant a vineyard. He knew nothing about wine making, but was eager to learn. Since then, he has become a legend. With the help of a talented team of enologists, he planted Europe’s…

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The Portugal Adventure – Into the Wild Blue Yonder

I looked at the thin envelope. Then I tore it open.

That undersized missive felt ominous as I opened the letter. Harry wrote that the Portugal team would be taking a group of teens to Germany for camp. They would be driving the kids in vans and they’d do some sightseeing along the way. Then he asked me a life changing question: would I come along on the road trip?

He continued to say that he would pay my living expenses while I was there if I could buy my airline tickets. It was my turn to have no words. I had a feeling, though, that we might be getting closer to the answers to my questions.

But now I had another question. Could I pay for the flight? I was certain that the airline would not take my word that I would pay when I had the money.  Reluctantly, I prepared to write a letter to tell Harry the sad news.

Then, my dad with puppy eyes in place, offered to buy my ticket. I was to pay him back when school started back up in the fall. So, I was left without excuse.

The travel agency in town took care of my passport photo and my travel arrangements. I had never flown anywhere on my own, and was all in a dither getting things together. No one wanted to drive me to New York City, so I reserved an airport limo. Suitcases were procured and a good friend helped me shop for the gaps in my wardrobe.

Somehow I managed to keep both feet on the ground. At least until the day of departure. When the airport limo arrived it looked suspiciously like a van. But, the driver did his job well, and we arrived at Kennedy Airport with time to spare. The direct flight to Portugal left in the early evening and I had adequate time to ponder Harry’s last letter.

The detailed information he had painstakingly written was astonishing. Customs had been carefully detailed. He could not come in to the airport and help me get through, but his directions lacked nothing. He added that I should try to sleep on the plane, because it would be a long day after I landed. Right. He signed the note simply, “I love you.” Given our history, I wasn’t sure what that meant.

The flight was about seven hours, and we were circling over Lisbon by 7 a.m. I peered out the window. The sun slipped over the horizon and bathed the city in red-gold beams.

Harry’s instructions were perfect. I passed through customs like a seasoned traveler. Before I could panic, he walked in the door. He beamed as he walked over to me, reached out his arm, and shook my hand.

Lisbon sunrise

Codfish poetry

Susan P:

These tasty tidbits are so yummy my mouth is watering thinking about them.

Originally posted on Salt of Portugal:

Pastéis de BacalhauJune 10 is a holiday dedicated to the great 15th century poet Luis de Camões, whose epic poem Lusíadas helped forge the identity of Portugal as a nation.

One of Portugal’s most revered contemporary writers, António Lobo Antunes, said that “To know how to make codfish cakes is as important as to have read the Lusíadas.”

Lobo Antunes meant his words as a compliment to the genius of Camões. Try codfish cakes accompanied with tomato rice and a great glass of red wine and you’ll see that they are pure poetry!

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