19.11.2010 - 13.12.2010
What can I say!! I left my heart in the Serra di Estrela! Or I am a bugger for punishment, willingly going back to pointing walls, cooking, cleaning, baking and all that fresh air, stunning views, fun hosts!!!
I got the times all wrong for the departure of my bus, especially in light of the fact that it's a huge NATO conference here in Lisboa. Arrived at Sete Rios station at 12 midday and only left at 6pm. A journey spent mostly in LaLaland, I am met by Steve in Oleiros at 1030 - it rained all the way so took longer than usual.
Alex and Tanguy are still here and have prepared a delicious dinner for us - thanks guys - you are stars!!
I am so happy that I made it back in time for the big party in Amieira, our closest village. It's called a Magusto, a not-to-be-missed affair! The Magusto is a popular party, whose forms of celebration vary slightly depending on regional traditions. Groups of friends and families come together around a campfire where they roast chestnuts or acorns to eat, proudly offer their local wine and jeropiga, serving mountains of sardinhas, grilled pork rashers, yummy bread, then consume more wine to encourage laughter and jollity. Ours had an auction of local produce donated by the villagers. Simaõ, our friend from Urraca, a close-by village, successfully bid on a duck. I must add that this poor creature had been sitting in a lidded basket from when we arrived, every now and again giving a mournful quack. Little did I know why he was there!! And to add to the weirdness, after his purchase, Simaõ invited us all over for dinner the following Tuesday and asked if I would prepare the duck!!! Well, that was me!!! But, undaunted, I checked out traditional recipes for Duck Arroz. We spent an amazing evening in his home and with the help of friends came up with a great meal ~ Simaõ said I was a good cook, so I guess I did OK! You too can make it - here's the recipe!!
On the Sunday, we welcomed the Dutch girls - Rosa and Chen, who would be on the quinta for about 10 days, picking olives. It was a full and busy kitchen for the few days before our French couple head off to Lisboa. Here's a pick of one of the funniest moments on the quinta - I nearly fell of my chair laughing....and it was the 1st of 4 similar incidents that make for great memories - I wanted to take a toothpick out of the container, Steve said "Here let me do that for you" and then proceeded to shower the entire place with toothpicks!! Well done, sir!
Work is full steam ahead. Still working on the wall at this time - the pics of the entire project from start to finish are on the 1st Quinta da Vinha page, in case you missed them. I also started doing the pointing on an inside wall, pruned the vines, got all mucho with a machete and cut out some straggly saplings that were not in the right place; also cleared out some weeds and other rubbish from the top terrace, prepared vine cuttings for planting, and of course prepared some meals and washed dishes - Rosa and Chen shied away from that unless asked!!!
One of my family favourite dishes, became a favourite here in Portugal as well and I made it at least once a week. I will share the recipe ~
To start with, those that know me, know that I cook with my heart and hands, not measuring spoons, so all quantities are rough guides - taste and add as you like!!
Caramelise 2 large onions in lashings of home-grown olive oil
Add garlic, lots
Whilst this is getting nice and brown, boil up a big saucepan of water with salt. Cut a scrumptious, fresh broccoli head from José's garden into bite size florettes. Use the stalks as well - they are sweet and delicious. I add the stalks to the boiling water 1st, and then the florettes. Cook them for a very short time - they must still be crunchy, not grey and boiled for hours like a dirty kitchen cloth. Remove and set aside. Add the pasta - a type that can catch the yummy sauce in its curls is best.
Back to the onions! Add a carton of fresh cream. Season with salt and freshly-ground (HEY!!! That reminds me of the SA band - need to hear their music again!!) black pepper. Add grated cheese that melts well and is strong and tasty - whatever you have available! Add milk to thin a bit so that it coats the pasta well. Add the little green trees and heat through. Throw into the al-dente pasta, serve and swoon!
Tuesday is market day! A big treat for the Wwoof volunteers on QdV! We get to go to town, check the internet (for free) and then Steve always treats us to the MOST delicious braai chicken. A family come with their huge, well-designed mobile kitchen on wheels and barbeque flatties on cut 44 gallon drum fires. We sit on plastic chairs, eat off the plastic table, set with a large paper cloth, make a roll with crusty bread and down it all with a good dose of red wine. Perfect!! It's the highlight for the old folk, many of whom live in the retirement centre across the way. There is also a farmers market - for me sadly lacking in fresh produce - I would like to see some home-grown veges, honey, olive oil etc on the stalls, but you can pick up some really good bargains in the clothing line. Many of the stall holders are gypsies - quite an experience to bargain with them!! They get p'd off if you show interest and then don't buy
We are all excited to welcome our newest volunteer - Richard, from the USA. Especially the girls, as he is 23 years old and probably much more fun to be with than us oldies!! NOT!! We also are fun to be with ;D Richard slips into life on the quinta with ease - he is a bomb to have around - works hard, plays harder, has a great sense of humour and is always there ready to help with whatever tasks need doing. And he is good eye candy!!! I suspect these endearing qualities have much to do with the fact that he was born in South Africa!! Yaaay - a real African-American. He and I spent a lot of time preparing meals together, chatting, laughing, talking some deep stuff as well. Thanks Dick-Koll!! I am so glad you came into my life. Our safari in July or so is a definite, ´kay??
One Sunday (our official day off), Steve took us to Cambas, further down in the valley. It was really cold and the HUGE log fire was a welcome sight when we popped into the local for a drink. Yummy galaõ all round - Portugal's version of latté. When we went out to head home it was raining - no ways that any of us were going to get wet so we all bundled into the front of the bakkie - yip, you got it!! All 5 of us - it really is possible!!
I will have to make a few entries for this time on the quinta - just too much to share in one page! See ya later......