Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A friends gathering

The arrival to Portugal of our dearest friend Nuno has been followed by several gatherings. Last Saturday, we went to Casais de Além, located near Batalha, for a great lunch that put together many friends that belong to the Comida & Fotografia (Food & Photography) club.

This recreational club, for over a decade, has been operating informally, that is, it has been accepting anyone who loves to eat and to take pictures. Especially if one likes more to do of the former than the latter, according to some club members opinion. With these principles in mind, the organization of several gatherings, all over the country, has been arranged. I and Ricardo went to some of these gatherings after being introduced to this club by our friend Nuno Santos. I can still remember quite well the weekend we spent at Sabugueiro. From there we discovered many parts of Serra da Estrela - I can't recollect any other time when I have eaten so much Serra da Estrela cheese and presunto! - and the darn cold we had to endure once, only because someone had the idea to shoot some stars at night! I also remember when we all met in Oporto where we ate Francesinhas, or when we had a delightful breakfast in Foz, or when we went to a fantastic restaurant in Matosinhos - I can't recall its name - or the promenade we took through the parish of Se along it narrows streets. There were also trips to Lisbon and Sintra. I missed the journey to Montesinho. It was in this club that I have been introduced to Ricardo Abranches and Paula, Hugo Silva - our kind host - Fabrício Santos, Ricardo Janeiro, Pedro Frazão and more recently Marisa. All these friends were convened with Nuno Vaz and Graciete and with many small children - the future generation of great photographers - who after lunch run around the house in a reinless exhilaration while the grown ups were bringing each other up to date.

After having caipirinhas, we began eating pataniscas de bacalhau (made with salted cod) and some other appetizers at the same time that Fabrício was playing the saxophone, indulging the guests who were requesting specific songs, such as Summertime. Then we went for cheese, grilled morcela de arroz and grilled farinheira, served with slices of corn bread. While we were nibbling, our host's father was taking care of the barbecue, where he was managing the broiling of different kinds of pork meat. When we seated at the table, the pork was served with two salads prepared by Hugo's mother and baked black beans and plain rice cooked by Marisa. There was also a soy moussaka cooked by Hugo.

For dessert we had a variety of fruit, almond morgadinhos from the Algarve, Dom Rodrigos, folar de Olhão, yogurt cake with poppy seeds and a fresh and delightful dessert made by Marisa with ladyfingers, jelly and fruit filling and a wild blackberry jam icing. At the very end of the meal, while having coffee we were able to savor some Belgian chocolate bonbons. I could not resist trying up to three kinds of chocolate flavors. Or would have been four? Five?!

Late in the afternoon, before going on a visit to Batalha Monastery, we all took part in a geocaching activity. That is, we searched for an hidden artifact, with the aid of a GPS equipment. That was entertaining. Both children and grown ups carefully seek and only after a good deal of time did we find the hidden "treasure". It was the first time I ever participated in this kind of activity and I enjoyed it very much. It can be quit thrilling. I now understand that there are many hidden artifacts waiting to be found in Portugal.

Hugo, let me, once more, thank you for receiving us in such a lovely and heartily manner. Meeting up with these friends made me recall all the good times I have had with them. Convening with people who you are fond of makes you feel very well. After such a good gathering, one can only say: when will it be the next one?

[ Originally published in Portuguese as Um encontro com amigos ]

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