Archive for November, 2009

“Quinoa” – Lisbon’s New 100% Biological Bakery Café

Monday, November 30th, 2009

Café Padaria Quinoa, Lisboa

Lisbon has a new café which prefers to see itself as a bakery which is also a lounge on weekend nights. The grand opening was last Thursday and its hours will be 8AM to 8PM, extended to much later on weekends when it turns into a chill-out space with snacky Portuguese foods. “Quinoa” offers 100% biological bread of different kinds (oatmeal, rye, raisons, quinoa…) and some mouth-watering pastries all made in-house. There is also space for Portuguese and international gourmet products on its walls, including a large selection of Kusmi tea.
Special brunch menus are served on Saturday and Sunday mornings, if you prefer to sit at the café instead of buying the bread and some sugary sweets to take home.
It’s located down the street from Largo do Camões in Chiado, and inside is an old staircase which was as beautifully restored as the entrance door salvaged from an old church.

Address: Rua do Alecrim, 54 (Chiado)

Café Padaria Quinoa, Lisboa

Café Padaria Quinoa, Lisboa

Café Padaria Quinoa, Lisboa

Lisbon Restaurant News: The Chef of the Year and a New Michelin Star

Friday, November 27th, 2009

Quinta dos Frades Restaurant, Lisbon

Lisbon‘s 20th edition of the “Chef of the Year” contest has just crowned one of the head chefs of Quinta dos Frades, a restaurant led by the also award-winning Chakall (famous for his cookbooks and TV cooking show). His name is Igor Martinho, and at the age of 25 he is now one of Portugal’s most promising chefs. Just like anyone in that profession, his dream is to one day open his own restaurant but at the moment he’s concentrating on evolving his talent further, something he’ll be able to do in an upcoming internship in Copenhagen’s Noma Restaurant, winner of two Michelin stars.
Speaking of Michelin stars, a new Lisbon restaurant has been added to the list of the discerning French guide. It’s not exactly new — in fact it’s Portugal’s oldest restaurant, now celebrating 225 years of age, as reported here on GoLisbon: Lisbon’s Oldest Restaurant is Turning 225 Years Old — but now that it has a new talented young chef innovating in the kitchen, it has caught the attention of the Michelin judges.
So in addition to Eleven, you can now add Tavares to the list of restaurants with the seal of approval of Michelin in Lisbon, but considering the raised quality of the city’s restaurants in the past couple of years, others should also be able to gain that distinction in the future. Or maybe not, since Michelin is known to have a bias towards French haute cuisine-inspired menus…

(SEE ALSO THIS LIST OF LISBON’S TOP CHEFS: Top Chefs in Lisbon)

“Matiz Pombalina” – A Quintessential Lisbon Bar

Thursday, November 26th, 2009

Matiz Pombalina Bar, Lisbon

Located between the young and hip Santos district and residential, aristocratic Lapa, Matiz Pombalina is a new bar to be discovered, especially during the winter days when the outdoor cafés become less attractive and you prefer to be indoors. It’s a quintessential Lisbon bar: somewhat hidden off the beaten path, but a wonderful surprise offering the elegance of the past combined with modern touches. The building and the name recall the Pombaline era, the second half of the 18th century when Marquês de Pombal rebuilt Lisbon after the Great Earthquake of 1755. The furnishings are classic and colorful, the cocktails are 21st century (there is one called “Obama”), and the ambience is perfect for a late-afternoon or late-night cocktail. It’s a bar for chatting and drinking, and where smokers are still welcome, in a separate area. The walls are also used for an art exhibition and on the patio where smoking is allowed is a reproduction of an 18th century tile panel.
In the air are jazzy sounds, soul, or bossa nova.
It opens from 6PM to 2AM from Tuesday to Saturday, and the space may also be rented for private events.

Address: Rua das Trinas, 25
Phone: 21 404 37 03
Web: www.matiz-pombalina.pt

Lisbon in New York – Part II

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

Aldea Restaurant, New York

It’s been a while since we brought you a Lisbon in the World post. Today we’re taking you once again to New York, pointing out the places where you can get to know a little of Portuguese culture across the Atlantic. In the previous Lisbon in New York post we highlighted the Big Apple’s Portuguese restaurants and the historical Portuguese Synagogue in the city, and had previously told you about how the borough of Queens is named after Portugal’s Catherine of Bragança.
Today we also remember Emma Lazarus (Lázaro), the poet of Portuguese Jewish background who’s best known for the sonnet “The New Colossus” engraved on the Statue of Liberty (“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…”), and also tell you about the first non-native citizen of New York, Jan Rodrigues. His last name reveals his Portuguese background, and he was recently remembered in a New Yorker article about Governor’s Island south of Manhattan, where he arrived in 1613 on a Dutch expedition. Rodrigues lived in what was to become New York as a trader of Dutch weapons for the local Indian tribes, and later married an Indian girl.
Another historical personality of Portuguese background in New York was Benjamin Cardozo who was a famous lawyer who went on to become the Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court in the early 20th century.
Moving to the present day, a special taste of Portugal can currently be found in the SoHo neighborhood, at the Kiosk design shop. It sells products found during the owners’ travels, and until mid-February of next year Portugal will be the highlighted country. This is the second time Portugal is the featured country of a New York shop in the period of a year, as last year the popular “Whole Foods” showcased Portuguese cuisine in a special “Adventures in Portugal” month.
Other recent Portuguese-related news in Manhattan was the opening of Aldea Restaurant by Portuguese-American chef George Mendes. His specialty is Iberian cuisine, after having interned at one of Spain’s best restaurants, the three-Michelin-star Martin Berasategui in San Sebastian. The name of the restaurant means “village” in Spanish, perhaps chosen instead of the Portuguese “Aldeia” to look easier for American pronunciation. Although the dishes are Portuguese and Spanish, the wine list also includes labels from France and the United States.

Lisbon’s Most Charming Shop Now Also in Porto

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

Loja A Vida Portuguesa, Porto
Photo: Filipe Paiva, “i

Lisbon’s “A Vida Portuguesa” became a favorite of every Lisbon travel guide soon after it opened and is now a shop that no tourist misses. However, its success is also in large part due to the Lisboetas themselves who nostalgically go there looking for the authentic Portuguese products from the past and present that are difficult to find elsewhere. Its popularity inevitably would lead to the opening of a second shop, and the city of Porto was the most obvious choice. It has been reported that owner Catarina Portas took more than two years to find the perfect place in Portugal’s second city, and has finally done it in the downtown district. It just opened on the corner of Rua Galeria de Paris and Rua das Carmelitas, in a former textiles shop, on the first floor (second floor in American terms), as there is another shop on the ground level. It will soon take over the floor above that, which will make Porto’s shop bigger than Lisbon’s.
Just like in Lisbon, most of the products are straight out of the 1930’s, 40’s, and 50’s, ranging from toothpaste to soaps, pencils, and coffee. Their retro packaging is what attracts most shoppers and make practically every product the perfect gift for those already familiar with Portuguese culture and those just curious about it.

Address: Rua Galeria de Paris, 20 (Porto).
Tel. 222 022 105.
Open every day except Sundays; 10AM-8PM
Web: www.avidaportuguesa.com

The Boston Globe Highlights Évora, Portugal

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

Roman temple, ÉvoraToday’s Boston Globe travels to the city of Évora, just over 1h30m southeast from Lisbon. It finds that the city’s history and cultural heritage lies everywhere (including deep in the ground) and that the place “still glimmers” after centuries of “Caesar, kings, Moors, great wealth, and long influence.”
Those not yet familiar with this city in Portugal’s Alentejo province will also want to check out our Evora guide, which is our third most-recommended destination in Portugal after Lisbon and Sintra.
For the full Boston Globe article see here: Fortunate Evora Still Glimmers

“Nova Mesa” – The Flavors of the World in Lisbon’s Newest Restaurant

Friday, November 20th, 2009

Nova Mesa Restaurant, Lisbon

The owner and the chef are both French, but Lisbon’s newest restaurant does not offer French or even Portuguese cuisine. It serves a fusion of world cuisines, particularly from Asia, Africa, and Northern Europe. It’s called “Nova Mesa” and it’s found in the Príncipe Real neighborhood, in one of the most tranquil spots in the city, Praça das Flores.
It’s open for lunch and dinner and at both times it offers two set-priced menus, from which you choose an appetizer, entrée, and dessert, only having to add the drinks to your final bill. The lunch price is €13.50 and dinner is €24. Most wines are Portuguese but there are also Spanish and French labels, all at reasonable prices.
As soon as you enter you notice the softly-colored dining area (mostly in tones of beige or white) which has a rather rustic appearance that somehow also manages to look contemporary. Not as immediately evident are the ingredients used on the dishes arriving later at your table, which are reportedly all-biological vegetables and some special imported spices. They’re added to “exotic” dishes such as pork dim sum or Thai curry chicken, allowing you to try a “new table,” a new cuisine, a new flavor of the world every time you return to the restaurant.

Address: Rua Marcos Portugal, 1 (Praça das Flores)
Phone: 213 966 287
Opening Times: 12PM-3PM; 7:30PM-11PM (midnight on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays)
Website: www.restaurantenovamesa.com

The Portuguese Diamond: The World’s Most Valuable Gem and Other Portuguese Treasures

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

The Portuguese Diamond

The world’s most famous gem is probably the Hope Diamond due to the legend that says it is cursed. But the world’s biggest stone, the most valuable gem, with 127 carats is said to be the Portuguese Diamond. No one knows for sure where it originally came from, but it is thought to have once been part of the Portuguese crown jewels. It is currently in the Smithsonian in Washington DC, which acquired it in 1963 and has displayed it in the American capital’s Museum of Natural History.
With the wealthiest royal family in the world at one point, and with diamond-rich Angola and gold-filled Brazil as colonies, Portugal transported priceless treasures around the world, and many of them currently lay at the bottom of the oceans. Many shipwrecks traced back to Portugal’s voyages of discovery have been widely reported while many others have been kept largely in secret, but those interested in the subject will want to read an article in National Geographic magazine from a couple of weeks ago. It tells the story of a 16th century Portuguese ship carrying gold and diamonds to India that was blown off course by a storm and never reached its destination. It was only discovered in April of 2008 with thousands of priceless artifacts inside which is firing the imagination of the world’s archaeologists. You may read the entire article here: Diamond Shipwreck.
If you have the “treasure hunter” spirit, you should visit the Ajuda Palace when you’re in Lisbon. It’s the last royal palace built in Portugal, and the last official royal residence until the end of monarchy in 1910. It stands just as the royals left it, and shows off an opulent and extravagant collection of decorative arts. Other royal treasures are found in Mafra Palace and inside the “Disneyesque” Pena Palace in Sintra.

Lisbon (and GoLisbon.com) in “New York” Magazine

Monday, November 16th, 2009

“New York” magazine highlighted Lisbon in its travel section this weekend, and among some of the city’s most interesting shops, hotels, and landmarks, it also recommended GoLisbon.com for being “an amazingly comprehensive English-language site covering most everything in Lisbon, with a focus on what’s new.” This comes after recommendations in the Lonely Planet guidebooks, in Paris’ Metro newspaper, and London’s “The Times,” confirming that GoLisbon.com is indeed the must-visit site for everything Lisbon. It’s reassuring to see our efforts in presenting Lisbon recognized, and it’s also interesting to see what major international publications choose to highlight in our beloved city.
In this “New York” article, the author recommends stays at the York House and Fontana Park hotels for being close to two of the city’s top museums, while also highlighting the classic boutique hotel Heritage Avenida Liberdade.
When it came to restaurants, it offered some interesting options, the recent 100 Maneiras for refined but reasonably-priced Portuguese dishes, as well as the very traditional and laid-back “A Camponesa” by the Santa Catarina viewpoint. A third option was “Aya,” known as Lisbon’s best Japanese restaurant.
The article goes on to suggest stops at some of the city’s most interesting shops, including PorConceito and A Vida Portuguesa for authentic Portuguese products.
As for sightseeing tips, it sticks to Alfama, suggesting a climb to the Castle of St. George and a look at Casa dos Bicos before ending the day at Pois Café.
You can read the entire article at the New York Magazine site: Spend Less in Lisbon

“Amatudo” – You’ll Love Everything at this Gift Shop of Portuguese Products

Friday, November 13th, 2009

Amatudo, Gift and Souvenir Shop in Lisbon

On your way to the Castle of St. George from downtown Lisbon, you’ll pass by Rua da Madalena whether you’re doing it on tram 28 or walking. If you pay attention to the shops on that street along the way, you’ll find Amatudo, a gift shop selling unique Portuguese products that are alternatives to the kitschy souvenirs at most of the other gift shops in the city. Many of those other shops sell exactly the same items you’ll find in any other city except that instead of the Eiffel Tower or Big Ben you’ll see the Belém Tower, Jerónimos Monastery, or the Discoveries Monument pictured on them.
So for something more truly unique to Lisbon you’ll have to look for those shops offering more authentic local products. An already hugely popular shop is A Vida Portuguesa in Chiado, but there are now others worth being discovered.
At Amatudo you’ll also love practically everything you see, from the attractive packagings to the distinctive designs. Everything is Portuguese-made, straight out of the hands of Portuguese designers and artisans, and ranges from the increasingly-famous Portuguese soaps to Ginjinha bottles to traditional Portuguese jams and honey. There is also space for jewelry and ceramics, including images of local icons such as Saint Anthony and poet Fernano Pessoa with alternative looks and made of different materials, often to humorous effect.
This is therefore a shop that appeals not just to tourists, but also to locals or any Lisbonphile. Check it out.

Address: Rua da Madalena 76/78
Phone: 218 862 631

Amatudo, Gift and Souvenir Shop in Lisbon

Amatudo, Gift and Souvenir Shop in Lisbon

Amatudo, Gift and Souvenir Shop in Lisbon