Friday, April 17, 2009

The "Knife Piper"

Almost everyday here in my neighborhood, I am awakened to the sounds of a high pitch pipe flute outside my window. When I first heard this awhile back, I obviously had no idea what it was coming from and was quite perplexed laying in bed listening to this pipe flute. It was calling out a tune every 5 seconds of about three notes, one very long to begin with followed by two descending short ones. It would go on usually for about a half hour, stop for awhile, then continue on again for about another 10-20mins. all throughout late morning and early afternoon.

Well, I finally remembered to ask my boyfriend about it one day and he told me "oh, that's just the amola tesouras", Uhhhh, the what? "It's a guy who rides around on his bike to sharpen knives and scissors for people." Really?? That's sooo cool!!! So instead of the Pied Piper, he's like the Knife Piper eh? "Knife...what?" Oh nevermind, you Portuguese obviously don't know that story then :p

Ok, maybe it's not as exciting for many of you people but coming from a culinary background where regular sharpening is essential for proper use of your knives, I am totally fascinated by these guys. Yes, there is more than one, as I've come to observe when I was finally able to spot them walking down the street with their bikes calling out on their flute. And the tune is quite lovely I think, it may be high pitched but I don't mind it at all, it's so out of the ordinary, almost old-fashioned to me, I've come to enjoy hearing them come around :) This kind of service would obviously never be allowed in the US (god, can you imagine?? lol) so it just shows one of the many ways people are very trusting of each other here (though I'm sure they don't offer this service here in the projects thankfully :p)

It's a shame all of my good chef knives are still at home for obvious airplane security reasons but if I had them here with me, you bet I'd be one of their frequent customers (my sharpening skills were never that good!). I did happen to spot them one day at work from my balcony, sharpening some knives on a steel wheel they have hooked up to their bike which turns by the power of pedaling their wheels! I've concluded now why I never actually see them riding their bike, as it's used for a different purpose in this case, and a very clever idea I must say.

One of these days I'll get around to either attempting to bring my knives over here (with special permission of course) or purchasing an inexpensive but decent chef's knife and then finally, I'll be able to call upon the Knife Piper for his services!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Fun Times Around Town and Country!

So it's been a little bit of time again but I have been out and about more (yay!) for various things so I've decided to recall some of the highlights from the past couple weeks :)

Another Crazy Tuna Night!
It had been awhile since we had gone to one of the tuna gatherings, mainly because of poor weather, but we finally got out late last month for a "Fado Night" hosted by the tuna's university-NOVA. There were actually no tuna performances, supposedly local fado groups, so the tuna went to their usual watering hole hangout- the restaurant across the street from the school, to drink and eat bifanas (pork cutlet sandwiches, typical ballpark food here). We met up with them there and joined in the beer drinking and "box" white wine shots? (first time for me, quite odd but tasty) and by the time we arrived at the NOVA's courtyard, they had already finished the fado and brought in a DJ which turned the whole place into a hoppin' open air club haha. And man, did that place get packed! We continued our beer drinking there while enjoying the music and the cool night breeze and then all I can remember is falling asleep on the way home and collapsing into bed....always the same ending after a night with the tunas :p

Reaching New Heights, with Great Views!
We've been exploring a lot of the cliff areas on the coast here, mainly around Guincho again, up on Serra da Sintra. During the past couple weeks, we found another little restaurant in Azoia with by far, some of the best food and service around! We decided to take Gabriella and Ryan Opaz, my Catavino bosses there while they were visiting Lisbon last week and we had an incredibly delicious lunch :D Afterwards, we took them to another cool place we found, just down the street actually; a Mexican-themed cafe/bar with a funky decorated interior and a beautiful outdoor garden seating area overlooking the ocean. Great place for afternoon coffee, cocktails and scones (yes! another scone place!) which we enjoyed outside in the crisp, mountain air. We also enjoyed an impromptu visit from a local stray dog, looking for love....or maybe food? hahaha :p

Then last weekend, we packed a picnic lunch and drove over to the southern shore to check out the cliffs near Sesimbra, which are a lot more remote than the other, with some pretty rough dirt roads to go up, but once we got to the top it was worth it! We parked near the edge and feasted on homemade pasta, salad and garlic bread with a bottle of wine that we spread out in the back seats of the car (was waaay to cold and windy to dine outside hehehe) while overlooking some spectacular ocean views :D

Cheap Beer Alert!
Last Friday night, I went out with the boys down to Santos, a great Bairro Alto alternative with tons of little bars/clubs to explore. We all had been around there plenty times before but this night, we just so happened to come across a little back alleyway with a couple bars and a jazz/rock club and right at the very end was a sign hanging out of a bar for 50 CENT BEERS! Ok, I'm by no means a beer-chugging hoodlum (but the boys are haha) but during the midst of an economic crisis, this is totally my kind of thing!!! And by beer, we mean draft beer, Portugal's Sagres, Superbock or Tagus straight from the tap into half-pint plastic cups, called "uma(1)Imperial" (plural: duas(2) Imperiais) here in Lisbon (in Porto it's "Fino"). So chilled out there in the alleyway, drinking our 50 cent beers while listening to the quite decent rock band inside the club playing covers from Pearl Jam and other 90's hits. By the way, the 50 cent beer "mini-bar" had an awesome DJ as well :)

Ok, so that's some of the cool stuff that's been happening here in my life lately and glad things are continuing to improve, promise to update this thing more often again, cheers!