Extraordinary Portuguese tea

Salt of Portugal

CháCamélia Composit

Camellias reign supreme in the gardens of the north of Portugal. They love the rainy, temperate climate and the slightly acidic soil. The first camellias were probably brought from China by Portuguese merchants five centuries ago. These merchants also brought back some leaves that, when infused in hot water, produced an extraordinary drink called tea.

Tea is made from the leaves of a camellia shrub called sinensis. If camellias grow so well in the north of Portugal, how come no one has tried to produce tea there in the last five centuries? The answer is that tea production requires great patience, there’s a five-year lag between the plantation and the first harvest. It also demands knowledge, dedication, and the humility to accept the whims of nature. These are the same traits necessary to produce port wine. Perhaps that is why Dirk Niepoort, whose family has traded port since 1842, and his wife…

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Carefree

Oldest Daughter & Red Headed Sister

Tuttle Creek, spring semester
Convinced and finally alone,
The promise of happily ever after
With the help of a seductive cove.

Clothes drapped over fringe
Growth no higher than our knees
As summer promised a convenient hinge
And tree buds blossomed into leaves.

Warm air cradled doubt
While we dipped and slid with haste
A runner’s legs supported me
Mine, wrapped around his waist.

Water clutching nature
Connecting, skin to skin
Laughter echoed pleasure
I want to feel that way again.

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Lunch at Noah

Salt of Portugal

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We had a perfect lunch at Noah, a scenic restaurant in the Santa Cruz beach, with very dear old friends. Our table was so close to the sea that it looked like the waves were taking part in our conversation.

The food was simple, grilled sardines and peixe galo (dory) fillets with tomato and pepper rice. A rosé called Pinta Negra produced nearby by Adega Mãe paired perfectly with the fish.

Time flew while we enjoyed the delicious meal, the eternal beauty of the sea and the precious gift of friendship.

Noah Surf House is on Avenida do Atlantico, A dos Cunhados,  tel 261 932 355. Click here for their web site.

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The painter arrived!

Salt of Portugal

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Between March and July the grapes wear bright green colors. But, once August comes, some grapes trade their green garments for red clothes, others change into bright yellow hues. When this makeover occurs, wine makers say that the “painter arrived,” as if some celestial artist came to color the grapes one by one.

After the painter arrives, the period of maturation begins. A few weeks later, it is time for the harvest, the culmination of all the work done by man, women and nature in the vineyard.

In Portugal, the painter has arrived everywhere and in some areas of the Douro valley and Alentejo the harvest is well under way. All we can do is wait until the colorful grapes turn into memorable wines we can share with friends.

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Awareness Sublime

Oldest Daughter & Red Headed Sister

today I walked into the post office.
just inside the door that never locks,
and the silver trim protectively surrounding her,
i saw it.
up against the corner swept weekly,
probably daily in the winter,
almost already behind me,
was a lone white plastic sack.
the contents inside
dwindled down to one cucumber
someone’s summer bounty,
now one of yours,
left, possibly given, presumably abandoned.
I flicked the envelopes into the slot,
turned two keys looking for more requirements,
thankful there wasn’t a spinning combination lock anymore.
somebody take her home, I thought, as I pushed the door open to leave,
and listened as it shut.

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The Miracle Weed (6 IMAGES)

Petals Unfolding

All gardeners know the importance of weeding.  There is that individual weed, (Dandelion is foremost in my mind), where you must dig out that weed down to the tiniest bit of the root.  If not, yep that Dandy grows right back mocking all the work you had done prior, in an attempt at getting that darn thing out.  That root rule goes for all weeds come to think of it.  If you don’t get the entire root out, forget it, because that weed is back before you can blink.

Then there are the group weeds when on knees and gardening gloves on hands, weeds by the bunches are pulled out with great grunts of satisfaction, I’ll have you know.  This is done best when the dirt is moist giving the puller of weeds the advantage of pulling weeds with roots intact all the way out.  Exception to that rule on…

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Making Alenquer a food destination

Salt of Portugal

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In the 19th century, Alenquer was one of Portugal’s premier wine regions. Its fortunes waned for much of the 20th century. But the tide turned and Alenquer rightly regained its status as a prized wine destination. A young chef called João Simões wants to help Alenquer become a food destination as well.

João apprenticed at the Ritz and worked in many posh hotels and restaurants. Three years ago, he decided to return to his roots to recover and renew the culinary traditions of the region where he was born. He uses local products like quails and Rocha pears and works with farmers on projects like producing goat cheese in the Montejunto mountain. His restaurant is called Casta 85. Casta means varietal, a reference to the region’s wine tradition. The number 85 refers to the chef’s birth year.

The dining room is decorated with furniture procured in the chef’s village. It is a pleasant…

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A joyous view

Salt of Portugal

Vista Alegre-Montebelo

In the early 19th century, Portugal’s royal family and nobility served their meals on expensive porcelain imported from China. José Pinto Bastos, an entrepreneur,  saw in this fashion a business opportunity: he decided to produce porcelain in Portugal. It was a risky venture because the process for porcelain production was a closely guarded secret. So, Pinto Bastos started by making glass and crystal to finance his porcelain experiments.

He found the name of his brand and the perfect location for his factory on a hill near Ilhavo that overlooks the “ria,” an elongated body of water where fresh water mixes with salty water. On top of the hill there’s a beautiful church built in 1696 by a bishop who liked the location because of its “vista alegre” (joyous view).

In 1824, Pinto Bastos built a house adjacent to the chapel and a factory called Vista Alegre. There, he started to unravel…

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