Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Lisbon Out On the Tiles; a Brief History in Azulejos

Azulejos Tiles

Introduced to Portugal through the Moors and from the Persians, the art of Azulejo tiling has been adopted as its own throughout Portugal, for the last five centuries and in Lisbon it is a prominent feature. Lisbon apartment, churches, palaces and nearly every building type will display some form of the signature azulejos blue-white tiles, inside or out.

Azulejos is derived from an arabic word, meaning polished stone. There are undeniable influences in Azulejos from the Moors; with interlocking pattern and geometry in its design.

However, Azulejos tiles in Lisbon tell of the city’s character, from ancient days through to modern times, thanks to its amazing mish-mash of designs. Whereas the traditional Islam approach restricted the use of living animals in the pattern, using only diamond and floral shape, the Portuguese Azulejos tiles really tell a story about the people and their history.

Azulejos Tiles: Traditional Floral Geometric Print Becomes More Colourful

Azulejos tiling is not only decorative; its practical substance maintains the temperature of the houses and apartments that it covers. However, when time and weathering had partially damaged the fine façades, owners of the building opted to fill the gap with a tile of different pattern or style. This has led to today’s remarkable patchwork face of Lisbon.

The most popular colouring for the tiles has always been blue and white with some yellow, but during the discovery eras, the colours became more exotic and adventurous. Blue tiles again became popular after centuries, until the great Lisbon earthquake in 1755, when the fashion returned to more vibrantly coloured tiles once more in the rebuild of the city centre.

Today, Lisbon azulejos tiles are one of the city’s icons of heritage. Used in tourism campaigns, advertising and logos, the art form has nevertheless stuck to its roots, with many workshops and factories still producing azulejos tiles for its own buildings and apartments. Azulejos really is one of Lisbon’s most treasured of possessions.

Azulejos Tiles: Today’s Remarkable Face of Lisbon

Monday, February 23, 2009

Slow Travel In Lisbon? Try This Lisbon Recipe for Dinner

If you’re interested in slow travel and you’ve selected from all the apartments in Lisbon on offer in the city centre, the next step is to learn a bit of Lisbon lifestyle. Have a go at this lovely recipe for one of Lisbon’s traditional dishes, which you can prepare in your apartment. Best served on a balcony, with views of the River Tagus; here’s how to make the Sailors Bacalhau Gratin (Cod bake).

From your local Lisbon fish market and convenience stores, you will need:

300g of Bacalhau (desalted)
2 Egg yokes
Half an onion, chopped
4 Potatoes, cubed and sautéed
2 Cups of full or light cream
Half a glass of white wine
3 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
50g Toasted breadcrumbs
Cured sheep cheese or hard cheese
6 Tbsp. butter
Salt, pepper and chopped parsley, to season
1 Cup of milk and water

Sailors Bacalhau Gratin; Best served on your Lisbon apartment’s balcony.

• Place the desalted cod portions in a saucepan with the milk and water, bring to the boil and leave to simmer for about 15 minutes. This will soften the fish and leave it fluffy.

• Preheat oven to 175ºC, drain cod and allow to cool. Once cool, remove the skin and bones and place the cod in a food processor, shredding it lightly.

• Fry cubed potatoes until golden. Drain on absorbent paper and allow them to cool.

• In a small pan, sautée chopped onion in 2Tbsp. of butter, then transfer into a bowl. Add shredded cod and sautéed potato.

• In a smaller bowl, cream together the egg yokes, cream, mustard, salt, pepper. Then add the wine, blend together and fold into the larger bowl.

• Spoon the mixture into individual quiche dishes. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs, grate cheese on top and add the last dollops of butter. Place in pre-heated oven and bake for 15-20 minutes. Garnish with parsley.

Serve with a green salad and a bottle of white wine. And there you have it, Sailors Bacalhau Gratin.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Fish and Flavours in Lisbon

Take advantage of budget airline offers and cheap Lisbon holiday apartments this April to experience a gastronomic event like no other. The 2009 Edition of Peixe em Lisboa (Fish in Lisbon) takes place in the Pavilhão de Portugal in the Parque das Nações from the 18th to the 26th of April. This offers the perfect opportunity to sample the extraordinary seafood and other produce from this region of Portugal.

The event programme is extensive and offers workshops, seminars, wine tasting, demonstrations, live music, not to mention some of the best seafood on offer in Europe. This event is the best way to get a real taste of all of the regions of Portugal and the typical dishes of each one.

There is a strong emphasis on traditional ingredients being given a modern makeover and the 2009 edition boasts International chefs alongside some of Portugal’s most highly regarded. There will also be the chance to hone your taste buds to the level of a genuine connoisseur, with wine pairing workshops from a team of certified experts.

The 9 day event takes place throughout Lisbon with many restaurants participating, but the principal venue is the Pavilhão de Portugal in the Parque das Nações, which was the site for the Expo 98 World Exhibition. Situated in the northeastern part of the city near to the Tagus estuary, this is an area rich in modern architecture and hosts one of the biggest aquariums in Europe.

There is also the chance to try to recreate some of the inspiring dishes on offer by visiting the gourmet market that will run throughout the whole event. What better way to enjoy your stay in Lisbon than by renting an apartment in Lisbon and trying your hand at preparing some authentic Portuguese cuisine with your family and friends.

More information on Lisbon in this other blog.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Indie Lisboa International Independent Film festival in Lisbon

Lisbon has grown from an industrial city port into one of Europe’s premier cultural destinations, after being named European City of Culture in 1994 and hosting the World Expo in 1998. Lisbon is now firmly on the tourist and international business map and growing ever rapidly. Modern Lisbon is a vibrant, cosmopolitan city that combines old and new to great effect. Lisboetas have embraced this and offer a friendly and inviting travel destination that is abundant in great value Lisbon apartments and up market hotels, ensuring all visitors a comfortable stay.

For a cultural city break why not try The 6th Indie Lisboa international Independent Film Festival. Fortunately this festival falls on what is largely considered to be the low season, meaning that hunting around for affordable accommodation will pay off. The majority of attendees to Indie Lisboa choose to stay in rental apartments as it offers more freedom and is cheaper than staying in hotels .

Silver screen this is not; a new International Independent Film festival has been growing quickly over the last 5 years and as the name suggests will not be promoting the next Hollywood blockbusters. Indie Lisboa now commands international respect and is a prestigious contender on the independent cinema awards circuit. Following in the footsteps of the Cannes, San Sebastian and Sundance Independent film festivals, Indie Lisboa serves to promote new independent cinema from all over the world. The founders state, in their official mission-statement, that their aim is “to discover new films and new directors in the universe of independent cinema.” The global roster of established and aspiring filmmakers attracts an equally international audience of aficionados and film professionals, who flock to Portugal’s capital for 10 days of non-mainstream film and media.

Now in its 6th year, Indie Lisboa showcases submissions of both short and feature-length films across a broad spectrum of sections including, fiction, animation, documentaries or experimental films. New and established directors are encouraged to submit their work to a jury of internationally renowned industry professionals. The deadline for submissions is now closed for the 2009 edition, as the festival begins to prepare. Those who have submitted will have to endure a nail biting wait to see if they have won a much coveted award.

The event will take place from the 23rd of April to the 3rd of May across a range of venues that are dispersed around the city centre. This really is a great time to visit Lisbon and enjoy the many attractions that are on offer and soak up the cosmopolitan festival atmosphere. Apartments in Lisbon are abundant and do not command the increased rates of the high season during this period. For expert film lovers and novice’s alike, the Indie Lisboa offers visitors the chance to experience modern Lisbon and see more than just the sights.