In Design: Kitchenwares in Lisbon
My husband and I went to Lisbon for the first time (hopefully not the last) recently. Knowing virtually nothing about the city or, for that matter, Portuguese history and culture at large, we chose the destination on the basis of some vague recollections of positive things heard, the fact that we hadn't been there before and, in light of the trip's brevity, that it wasn't too far away.
Having arrived in this place with so little knowledge, nearly every turn presented a revelation, some new facet of the city's character. Charmingly archaic streetcars traversed some of the narrowest, steepest streets we'd ever seen. A generous smattering of beautifully refined Art Nouveau edifices rivaling those of Paris stood cheek-by-jowl with homey stucco facades enlivened by fields of vividly painted tiles.
Food and drink were unfussy, fresh and more irresistible than we could have imagined: eggs with lofty, nearly orange yolks; sweet, vibrant shrimp and octopus; sprightly vinho verde (literally, green wine); earthily funky regional cheeses; free-flowing port; and açordaa traditional bread porridge, enriched with fresh seafood and redolent with coriander, that has officially usurped mac and cheese as my all-time favorite comfort food. And, oh, the profusion of marvelous objects with which to further stuff my kitchen cabinets!
Little café-shops were as much places to buy every conceivable type of mug, pot, infuser or other coffee/tea/chocolate-related gadget as they were places to drink those beverages. I was particularly enamored of the curvaceous vacuum-style coffee stills that looked to be as valuable to alchemists as to coffee lovers (right).
Store windows offered up a range of tabletop novelties, from funky, hamburger-shaped crumb vacuums to a precious-looking, adjustable wine-decanting cradle.
A stylish bar that we visited one night, boasted the coolest lights I have ever seen, resplendent with escarole shades so lifelike that I had to cop a feel on a low-hanging one near the bathroom to tell for sure. (If I can figure out how to replicate these, they will definitely feature in our upcoming kitchen renovation.)
We also encountered a remarkable range and quantity of copper pot-stills, in hardware stores and at markets, leading me to believe that there's a fair amount of homemade hooch flowing in and about Lisbonan assumption that further endeared the city to me.
At the expansive Feira da Ladra ("Thieves' Market") we found a number of such stills exhibiting varying degrees of usage and character (above), as well as time-worn copper pots of all shapes and sizes, containers fashioned from blocks of cork, silverware, and china of various vintages and styles, and antique ceramic tiles, salvaged from building facades, perfect for kitchen backsplashes and trivets. That market, and the city itself, turned out to be an unexpected treasure trove of fantastic, often inexpensive, finds for the kitchen and table. My only regret was having nary enough room to schlep it all home.
About the author: Amanda Clarke is a recovering restaurant pastry chef with a background in architecture. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, where she writes, tests, and develops recipes and works on freelance food-styling gigs between walkings and feedings of her two dogs and husband.