I’m smitten with Loulé and for good reason. It’s an easy bus ride away and the town has a great vibe. It feels young, relevant, artsy and the food has been outstanding — clearly why I keep going back. Although I’m not familiar with the history of Loulé (click here), I’m certain that it has been an important cultural and political hub in southern Portugal for centuries.
I have had several good meals in Loulé; however, Sol e Serra Restaurant in Corte Garcia (north of Loulé) was exceptional. It was a great day for dining al fresco and I was famished. We started with a delicious warm goat cheese salad and then neither my dining partner nor I could resist the dish of the day (prato do dia), duck confit over pureed sweet potato (orange-colored, not the pale yellow variety more often found in the Algarve). I don’t care how full I am, when the food is memorable, I must have dessert. Sol e Serra offers homemade gelato. When I asked the owner what flavors he had I closed my eyes and wished for pistachio and don’t you know the first word that came out of his mouth was pistachio! Pistachio nuts have been very expensive in the U.S. and so you rarely find real, homemade pistachio ice cream on the menu these days. It’s been four days since I had this gelato and I have not been able to stop thinking about how creamy and delicious this gelato was.
Sol e Serra is a family owned and operated restaurant and I had the great privilege and pleasure to meet several family members. The matriarch of the family (I wish I had thought to photograph her) greeted us at the gate to her home next door to the restaurant. I also met Chef Alex (the son), who just returned from training in restaurants is France.
Note: In Portugal the “prato do dia” is not the food the chef is hoping to get rid of. Often it is an inspired dish and worth ordering. The inspiration can come from many different sources.
It was a bit overcast Monday; however, Parque Municipal de Loulé, is a beautiful public park with a magnificent monument. A newish friend, Nora, was happy to show off the park and Loulé. It was one of those days when you’re content to stroll without the sun beating down on you. Nora told me that any respectable town in Portugal has a public park with an outdoor swimming pool, a good theatre and a football (soccer) stadium; Loulé has all of this and a lot more. Nora told me other things, but in order to be in the moment, I avoid taking notes.
Brooklyn in Loulé
I’m proud of my birthplace and I know the other millions born in Brooklyn feel the same way. Having said this, the Brooklyn-mania thing is out of control. Brooklyn as a brand is sizzling hot and it has been for quite some time. Everywhere I go I see “Brooklyn.” Shows you what a good marketing campaign can do. I recall the beginnings of this campaign 20 years ago when Marty Markowitz, Brooklyn Borough President, would rave about Brooklyn to anyone who would listen.
I must admit, when young Portuguese people ask me where I’m from and I say Brooklyn, they are very impressed — I use it to my advantage. But alas, this fad will fade, as most fads do. In the meantime, I’m going to milk this craze in any way I can. Somehow, I don’t think the Portuguese immigration folks will be impressed.
Thanks to my friend Pedro, I have visited Maquedones Decor in Loulé several times. The Portuguese cotton sheets are like butter on your skin. I have honestly never experienced such fine cotton in my life and it washes beautifully. Above is a duvet cover and pillow shams I am considering purchasing. The sizes are not perfect for American comforters, so I have to see. The sheet sets come in many different sizes. I also bought a ceramic lamp here and I’m wild about that as well. Pricing is very fair for what you’re buying.
Loulé is also where the big mall and IKEA are located; I’m about 25 minutes door-to-door.
Zara Home is having a 50% off sale and I got a beautiful cotton (all white) duvet cover; therefore, I am not purchasing the one above. The white will go better with my clean, minimal decor and I love a good bargain.