I’m a Canadian who moved to Porto, in the north of Portugal, in late 2013. Previously in Toronto and Vancouver, with expat stops in the USA, Scotland, and Australia. A freelance photographer since 2008, and an avid blogger posting daily since 2002.
I’m not a vegetarian, but I would happily eat at a vegetarian restaurant every day of the week. When I arrived in Porto in late 2013, vegetarian restaurants were few and far between, but their numbers have grown significantly since then. The vegetarian web guide Happy Cow had a list for Porto that was short enough to read on a single quick scroll, and now it’s up to 93 listings. From one page to three in a few years is progress!
Another major signal of change was the law (Lei n.º 11/2017) that passed in Spring 2017, legislating public cafeterias (schools, hospitals, prisons, universities, etc.) to serve at least one vegetarian option starting in June 2017:
The brand daTerra is a franchise of vegetarian restaurants, the first of which was established in Matosinhos. There are currently eight locations: Matosinhos, Baixa (near São Bento Railway Station), Foz do Douro, Arrábida Shopping, Mercado Bom Sucesso, Viseu, Campus São João, and Mercado Beira-Rio. So far I’ve eaten at the first four, and my favourite of those is Foz do Douro, which opened last December.
In fact, I was so enthusiastic about this one that I offered the owner, Sílvia, my photos of the food. Sílvia and her team make the food look positively glamorous!
The Foz location seats about 34 people, with a small uncovered courtyard that seats another 18 people or so. The restaurant is open every day of the week for lunch and dinner, served buffet-style. The menu is announced weekly. Prices are currently €7.50 for lunch and €9.90 for dinner, excluding drinks and desserts. (Pricing subject to change.)
Paulo came with me and between us, we shot so many photos that I’m putting them into a slideshow to make it easier to view. Click on the slideshow to view the album.
daTerra Foz do Douro
Rua das Sobreiras, 514
The third edition of our popular Indonesian Pop-Up Kitchen at Armazém da Cerveja was our best event yet — we served nearly a hundred plates of food! As per usual I was working and not behind the camera, but I brought it and Paulo took the pictures this time.
I’ll have the photos from the event photographer in a few days. Now I’m going to sleep for a hundred years.
Ice the Dog accompanied me on an all-day road trip with clients on Tuesday and I’m happy to report he was very well-behaved. Which makes up a little for the moment I discovered the interior of their rental vehicle was black fabric. I suspect they’ll be picking white fur from their clothing for the next five years.
This was the scene in Porto and Gaia on a fine May day that defied the weather forecast, turning out as cloudless and bright as could be. I was showing some visitors around the historic centre and we walked across the top of the Luís I Bridge to these views from Jardim do Morro — a panorama that could be credited singlehandedly for bringing new residents to the city.
I’ve brought many, many people to this spot and it’s one of Ice the Dog’s favourite parks. He was gutted last year when the City of Gaia closed it for renovations, but they reopened it well in time for Festa de São João and he was happy to roll down its banks over and over again like a five-year old.
The park renovations brought some much-needed changes: the city added a WC at one end, a nifty playground, a sheltered picnic table area, and many more benches. Now all they need to do is add water to the existing grotto and a water fountain (or is there a water fountain and I just missed it???), and I’ll be singing its praises to Mayor Rodrigues.
We’re at it again. The next Indonesian Pop-Up Kitchen event is next weekend, and I’ve rounded up some extra hands for this edition because we couldn’t keep up with demand last time. I was really lucky to bring on board some fellow Filipinos for this one and they’re making the dessert.
You read that right: I’ve actually met other Filipinos living in Porto! A-MAZING!
This test kitchen was mostly experimental except for the Balinese chicken (above), included only to introduce the others to this dish for lunch but not to use in this event.
The chicken that we’re making this time is Indonesian-style chicken wings.
There was a fair amount of tweaking in this test kitchen, and we ended up swapping items, too. We have some logistical constraints for these events — space, equipment, and cost, to name a few. But we finally have a menu, and I created the official event once we ironed out the major wrinkles.
One of the tweaks is replacing the mince in the murtabak with tofu, to make it more available for everyone.
We have a bit more testing to do, but the bulk of it is done and the event is launched… if you’re in Porto next weekend, RSVP and enjoy some Southeast Asian flavours!
One of my first memories of Portugal was landing in Lisbon the early morning of Portugal Day and groggily stumbling around the staircases of Alfama, the pungent odour and smoke of grilled fish lodging in my nose and clinging to the clothes I’d been wearing since departing Toronto the night before. My first meal in Portugal was grilled sardines, a tasty but messy affair with a procedure I have yet to master.
Forevermore, grilled fish is the scent I associate the most with Portugal — fish over coals the old-fashioned way, smelling up the neighbourhood.
In my current life, that smell is guaranteed to be had in the streets closest to the commercial fish market, Docapesca in Matosinhos, where the fishing boats take their daily haul, which is then auctioned to fish traders and restaurants. Last year, the municipality repaved the road next to the market and restaurants along Rua Heróis de França have their outdoor seating enclosed and sheltered in glass. These were necessary changes because of traffic, but it takes some getting used to since the norm is to dine in the open air. The grills are also part of the enclosure, which means they can operate safely all-year round safely.
As you can see, though, we’re eating our chocos (cuttlefish) and dourada (sea bream) al fresco and not surrounded by glass. That’s because we’re on a side street where the restaurants have outside tables, and this one used to have a wooden shelter but we were surprised to find it gone since our last visit.
If you’re not a regular fish-eater, you might be wondering if someone can fillet the fish for you. Yes, if you ask nicely. I’ve seen waiters do it for visitors at my table who don’t want to deal with heads or tails or bones, but the default is for the fish to arrive whole, so be prepared to put in a request. It’s a cultural aspect of Portugal that I understand for these reasons (my hypotheses only):
I attended my first wedding in Portugal on Friday night, and despite Paulo’s best efforts to stop me from working this event (i.e., taking photographs), I took photographs. It started off as a few here and there of family, since it was a family wedding, but it turned into hundreds by the end of the night. It appears that either the task of photographing weddings is so intensive that it never truly leaves the system, or the impulse of photo capture is impossible to resist. I’m unable to answer this question, because I’m already thinking about the next photograph.
I decided to show just a small part of the end of the wedding, to resist the impulse of editing a hundred photos over the weekend. I chose the dance floor because it’s easier to edit and no-one’s faces are shown. Also, because these look different from the usual dance floor pictures you see from weddings… and that’s the point.
This set of photos is so “very Porto” to me… it’s Tram 1, which runs between Igreja de São Francisco and Jardim do Passeio Alegre.
On the way, the tram drivers encounter badly-parked cars and diners a little too close to the tracks. The tram slows down, waits for everyone to move, then a few meters later, more of the same. If this were Toronto, there would be some fist-shaking. (Contrary to popular belief, Canadians are not always polite.)
If you’ve been to Casa da Música lately, you cannot miss the presence of this giant red hand, a lightning bolt of colour surrounded by the pale architecture of the House of Music. The hand appeared in March and is the work of Romanian sculpture artist Bogdan Rata, based in Timisoara. The installation celebrates 100 years of diplomatic relations between Portugal and Romania.
“The sculpture titled ‘Middle Way’ celebrates the friendship of Portugal and Romania. The objet d’art is placed next to Casa da Música.
The inauguration took place on 3 March and was attended by the Romanian Ambassador Ioana Bivolaru and by the Mayor of Porto, Rui Moreira.
Born out of the creativity of renowned Romanian visual artist Bogdan Rata, it revolves around human body movements and it celebrates the hundredth anniversary of the Portugal-Romania diplomatic relations.
A wide community of Romanians lives in Portugal. Former monarch Carol II and historian and essayist Mircea Eliade were in exile in the country.
The ‘Middle Way’ statue is part of the ‘Moving Monuments’ project. This is a very large undertaking that has been featured at the Liverpool Biennial in 2014, and in 2016 it was placed next to St. George Hall, building listed World Heritage by UNESCO.”
I don’t know about you, but the sight of this realistic hand brings to mind all sorts of puns, eg. “Talk to the hand!”, “Would you like a hand?”, “High Five”… I’m sure I’ll think of more, the more I see it.