sexta-feira, 17 de fevereiro de 2012

Gourmet modernity

Catarina Portas fala à Monocle sobre o projecto dos Quiosques de Refresco, que esteve na génese do ressurgimento da nova onda quiosqueira da capital. Para ouvir aqui.

"Now let's head to Lisbon, where some decaying icons of the early days of the Portuguese Republic have been given a new lease of life. Local entrepreneurs have opened up ornate iron kiosks, which have been abandoned, selling traditional drinks as well as snacks and coffee to an outdoor loving population that is discovering its drinks heritage via a touch of gourmet modernity. We got this report for the menu.

- Olá boa tarde, queria uma ginginha e um café, por favor.
- A ginginha é com ou sem elas?
- Com. Obrigada.

In Lisbon, you're not far away from a strong coffee or a sweet liquor. This is thanks to the city's renewed love for kiosks, old iron fresh mint stands doted around the Portuguese capital, abandoned since the early 1900 these charming octagonal structures now provide idyllic public space to eat, meet and drink.

"It's always open and it's nice weather in Lisbon. We also have a place close to our home where we go a lot (...) I love it, we are outside, have coffee and it's nice".

Entrepreneur Catarina Portas is the mastermind behind the city's kiosk boom. She reopened three of the tiny century old refreshment stands two years ago with architect João Regal.

"The kiosks started because I don't have a car. I walk around a lot and noticed these old kiosks that were closed but remained very nice pieces of urban furniture. And I started thinking as an exercise: how can I recuperate these kiosks for a business of our times?"

Catarina and her partner won the city hall contract thanks to a proposal focused on forgotten Portuguese tradition. After much research, she decided on a diverse drinks menu who's origin was as old as the kiosks themselves.

"To start of with, we went into the kitchen and started preparing all the refreshments. At first it was terrible, because they were extremely sweet. I think 100 years ago people ate less sweet things but the ones they ate were very, very sweet. We got a little bit desperate, then we started doing them again and again and again and finally we had some quite interesting refreshments."

Q: "Yes, tell me about the traditional drinks you revived."
A: "There are two drinks made from cordial syrups that are Portuguese classics, the red currant and the chic lemonade, a recipe from a very well known Lisbon cook from the 1930s, Olebama, and the ice tea of course - don't forget the Portuguese introduced the tea to Europe and to England."

Selling a wide variety of beverages, as well as snacks and espresso, means a little innovation is needed in such small serving spaces. Most kiosks only fit one person inside and there is only room for preparation. Lucie, who works in one of the original kiosks in Largo do Camões explains:

A: "Well, you have to be really organised inside, have a good relationship with our colleague"
Q: "What do people order in general?"
A: "Foodwise, the chicken pie, really, really typical. And to drink, the lemonade. In the Summer the Orchata, jasmine ice tea, mulled wine, perfumed milk as well, with lemon and cinnamon. Then the Portuguese liquors, that we sell especially at night. We also have other products that we started selling this year, the homemade hot chocolate is a best seller, and the cappuccino, coffee and things like that. We bring in the products, that are prepared...
Q: "Every morning."
A: "Yes, we have a kitchen where the food is prepared, as are the juices, the sandwiches. Some cakes we order from suppliers, such as the queijadas from Sintra and the bean cakes from Torres Vedras. And the lemonade, for instance is prepared in our central kitchen and we just have to add water in the kiosks, that part of the work we make here".

Today there are brand new kiosks all over the city, selling everything from hot dogs to chocolate cake and pizza. (Catarina Portas:)

"We started a trend. Nobody was thinking about kiosks. Nobody. So, after we started, the city council realised they were a success and they started placing kiosks in every garden in Lisbon, in every square almost... But I'm just a little bit sad because I think the new kiosks could be much more beautiful."

Despite her misgivings about the newer kiosks, Catarina Portas can at least be proud of having kick started a movement that suits Lisbon, a culinary adventure in a city with plenty of sunshine, down to a tea. For Monocle in Lisbon, I'm Syma Tarek."

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