Zucchini Rolls, by Cruioso

Zucchini Rolls, by Cruioso (1)

The lowly zucchini (or courgette, depending on your linguistic bent) doesn’t usually get much limelight or fanfare in the social media kitchen, but look — a whole post devoted to the fashionista zucchini. Here it is, gussied up with herbs, bell peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, and a secret recipe filling. Bet you didn’t even recognize it!

(These first three pictures were taken after the poor zucchini rolls were carted around in a backpack for hours in summer heat until picnic time, but the last two were shot today in a more optimal state.)

A friend in Porto is the creator of these edible works of art. She specializes in raw vegan gluten-free food that is also free of soy, corn, rice, and sugar. I’ve been eating the zucchini rolls, buckwheat crackers, and seed pâtés on several occasions now, and also sampled the vegan ice cream and the spicy fig truffles. Everything I’ve tried has been very flavourful, which is always top-of-mind once ___-free is mentioned.

Check out the website to find out more about the ingredients, the nutrition behind the food, the wide variety of food available to a raw vegan gluten-free diet, and where to find it in Porto:

CRUIOSO raw curious health & nutrition

Here’s to healthy eating!

Zucchini Rolls, by Cruioso (2)

Zucchini Rolls, by Cruioso (3)

Zucchini Rolls, by Cruioso

Zucchini Rolls, by Cruioso

August 8/29, 2015
Album: Portugal [Summer 2015]

International Day of Monuments and Sites (April 18): Serralves Night Tour

Serralves (Porto, Portugal)

We try to participate in as many cultural events as we can in Porto (and travel to others), but it would truly be impossible to make them all. It’s a good problem to have! It’s one of the reasons why I wanted to move to Portugal in the first place: I wanted to de-corporatize my life and shift it to one that focused on culture. In that regard, I made a 180-degree turn and I’m thankful for this every day.

On Saturday night, Paulo and I went to Serralves (one of our favourite places) to participate in an event organized as part of the International Day of Monuments and Sites on April 18, which was established by ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites) to celebrate the diversity of heritage throughout the world. We tried to attend more of the events that day, but due to scheduling conflicts this was the only one we were able to join in the end.

Paulo had been to a daytime tour of Serralves, but this night tour was a first for him and a first overall for me. We were supposed to bring flashlights and completely forgot but surprisingly, even though Serralves is a huge green space (18 hectares) in the middle of the city, there was enough ambient light that we could walk around without extra lights. After seeing how much ambient light we had, I do regret leaving the camera in the car and only getting some mobile pics.

The guide started us off at the Museum and continued through to the Villa, down to the lake, then closed the loop back around to the Museum. Before we began, I wondered whether this type of tour was best done during the day, but it was soon evident what the major advantages were for a night tour:

  1. The purpose of the tour was to familiarize the group with the park’s biodiversity and vegetation, and the guide used a strong flashlight to spotlight the trees and plants he was describing. It was much easier for him to point directly than try to specify which it might be in the cluster of trees/plants — of which there are around 200 species in the park, native and foreign, including some ancient and endangered ones.
  2. The park is closed at night, which made it much easier to focus on the guide’s talk without people milling around. (However, I felt sorry for him whenever there was a plane overhead, effectively drowning him out, since Serralves is directly under the flight path and approach for Porto Airport. Ironically, I live 2km from the airport, but since we’re not under the flight path we neither hear nor see any planes.)

The tour took about two hours, finishing close to 11:30, and my knowledge of the park has now increased tenfold. I’m glad we were able to squeeze in this one event for DIMS (Dia Internacional dos Monumentos e Sítios). Next year I hope we can make it to more.

ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites): http://www.icomos.org/
Directorate General for Cultural Heritage (Portugal): http://www.patrimoniocultural.pt/
International Day of Monuments and Sites for Portugal (Facebook): https://www.facebook.com/Dia.Internacional.dos.Monumentos.e.Sitios
Serralves Foundation: http://www.serralves.pt/

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Museu de Serralves

A photo posted by Gail at Large (@gailatlarge) on

Why You Should Travel To Portugal Now, From Backpack Me


Portugal Day was a month ago, but we were already in Cabo Verde when this post was originally published on June 10. Back at the beginning of May, Zara, the Portuguese half of Backpack Me, invited me to participate in a group post comprised of locals (Portuguese travel bloggers), expats (travel bloggers based in Portugal), and visitors (travel bloggers who’ve been to Portugal) in honour of Portugal Day. The aim of the article is to share a variety of perspectives that will inspire people to include Portugal in their bucket lists:

Backpack Me: A Bunch of Good Reasons Why You Should Travel To Portugal Now

(In the internet era of lists, it’s nice to read a title that has no numbers!)

It’s always interesting to read collaborative articles because everyone has different ideas, backgrounds, reasons, and experiences. My contribution was one of the two expats in the group, and I’m reprising my text here, since I talk about the subject often:

Travellers going to Portugal for the first time will no doubt spend more time in the cities, but I urge everyone to visit the tiny villages in the mountains, where time seems to have stood still. I live in the north, where most of these villages can be reached within a few hours’ drive. For the ones still inhabited, they are now essentially living museums, but they won’t live forever — urbanization is shrinking the villages. Go before they completely disappear!

So what can you expect to find in rural Portuguese mountain villages?

Some are only ruins now, some accessible only by hiking, a few have been restored. You’ll find villages made entirely of schist, or whatever stones are local to the area. Along the mountain roads, chances are you’ll be passed by longhorn cattle making their trek to the upper pastures; be prepared to stop for sheep and goats. There probably won’t be enough room for the car so you’ll make your way up the steep stone path to the village on foot, outpaced by little grandmas with big smiles, no teeth, and layers of skirts — even in the hot sun — making their daily journey from the chapel on another mountain. Every village has at least one chapel, but you’ll also see them in unlikely places, like the middle of an orchard or vineyard.

If the village has only a couple of hundred regular residents, like my husband’s family village, you might notice the absence of a grocery or convenience store. On certain days, you’ll hear horns from the fish van or the bread van announcing their presence. Each horn is different; the locals know which is which. There are no banks. No shops. No corporate banners. No brands… oh, but wait: the Portuguese love coffee so if the village is larger there might be a “cafe” — I use the term loosely because it just looks like someone’s door is left open — marked by a coffee brand at the entrance. Nearby, possibly a burro or oxcart, but always a village dog or two lounging around in the sun.

If you can swing it, I highly recommend visiting a village during their patron saint’s festival: there’s often a parade, traditional clothing, music, food, and a festive atmosphere. You won’t find anything flashy, it’s not for tourists. But you’ll forget it’s 2014, if only for a day.

Now that you’ve read my #1 reason for travelling to Portugal now, go read the rest!