Well this post is mainly about some of our favorite eateries, but a later one will hit the highlights of some special places to see. (And then we'll move on to our nephew's wedding last week.)
One of our favorite hangouts when we go to Braga is Café Vianna, a café overlooking Praça da República (Republican Square). There are tables inside and out, but we sit at an outside table under one of their giant umbrellas sipping wine and people-watching.
|Café Vianna used to be a|
hub of political activity in
the years before Salazar.
|Now it's just a popular place|
for tourists to enjoy.
|It's almost always busy.|
The square is dominated by an immense circular fountain, and on a hot day it's refreshing just to watch the streams of water shoot up and splash down. (It was hot in early June!) The square was being decorated while we were there (as was the city) for the coming Festa de São João
(St. John the Baptist), a very popular festival that occurs mid-June.
|I was surprised by a rainbow!|
|The arches are part of the decoration|
for the coming Festa de São João
|Two gracious women at|
the tourist office, Márcia
and Cristina, have helped
me a lot with my research.
The eating places in Braga are quite interesting. Each of them has a unique flair. And I don't mean just what kind of food they serve. They combine ideas
about eating. For instance, on our last trip, we discovered a wine bar called Copo. But Copo isn't just a wine bar. or a tapa
bar, although that, too.
It's several things rolled into one. Here we are enjoying our favorite small table by the corner window. But this building -- which is really two -- is full of nooks and split levels. The room next door is a wine and gin bar (with an actual horseshoe bar.) Up a flight from that is a cocktail lounge. A stairwell off of that leads to a small restaurant area. From where we are sitting in this picture, stairs lead down to a little champagne nook, which leads up to another restaurant area, and also down to yet another restaurant area. Surprises abound everywhere. And Copo does serve great tapas.
|A little dining hall.|
|Unless you prefer the garden.|
|Art on the wall, food on|
the table, books to read.
What's not to like?
A favorite lunch place of ours is Centésima Página
, The Hundredth Page, a unique bookstore and café housed in a Baroque building on Avenida Central. I can't begin to tell you how inviting it is. These pictures may help. There are numerous little side rooms, small indoor tables, a garden patio. And books, books, books, everywhere! They also offer art exhibits and guest speakers, and special kid programs at various dates and times. But the books and snacks are irresistible.
|Exterior: The bookstore/cafe is on|
Avenida Central, not
far from Praça República.
|Books, books, books! What's not to like?|
Not far from Centésima Página is a remarkable place called Casa do Professor, a home for retired teachers -- at any level: elementary to university level. It houses a library and a restaurant and bar, among other features. The goal is to make the teachers feel at home. But the restaurant is also open to outside guests and parties. We didn't take any picture of it, but here is a website that can tell you more about it .
There is a buffet dining room at street level, and both a cafeteria and a menu restaurant down a few stairs to the next level. The food was delicious and so reasonably priced. Being vegetarians, we had a vegetable-filled pastry for lunch that was so good I could swoon over it. And a party of teachers were at a group of tables near the far window, having a wonderful time.
Last spring, visiting the Museu Imagem
(Image Museum), a unique photography gallery, we were privileged to meet the director, Rui Prata, who introduced us to both the fabulous three day photography exhibit last fall, and also Casa do Professor, as well as two other noteworthy restaurants. The names of those two wonderful restaurants elude me, but we found two more in a little square (Largo da Praça Velha)
near the museum: Taverna do Felix
, and Anjo Verde.Anjo Verde
means Green Angel, and it's all vegetarian food that must be cooked by angels! Last fall we enjoyed a memorable lunch of eggplant parmigiana cooked just right. We split an order, and their portions are so generous we still were quite stuffed. I only have one picture to share, but this website can show your more
of the interior, as well has samples of their wonderful food :
Right next door, in the same largo
was a restaurant I'd been intrigued by online while doing research - Taverna do Felix
(Felix's Tavern). I want to place a scene in my book there. These pictures should give some idea of it's distinct ambience, which is both elegant and cosy.
|A great selection of wines. |
|Gray lace on white linen.|
|Combined with Marilyn!|
There was a homey quality to this restaurant, established by all the antiques placed here and there, I suppose, and the soft lighting.
Little tables were also in clusters, here and there. We were among the early guests, but were welcomed in, and "Nina" the owner, explained the wonders of Port to me as she and a warm and friendly waitress named Sandra set things in place: White Port is an appetizer, and red Port is for dessert. (I knew about the red, but not the white, did you?) In the course of the evening, she gave us a sample of each. Here's a video
that gives you more information about the restaurant and owner, and you'll encounter the beautiful Portuguese language as well. And here are some photos of the food:
as well as more pics of the restaurant. Our meal was lovely. We do eat fish, and we had broiled sea bass beautifully presented.
Meanwhile, the restaurant had started filling up, and there were couples at various tables from all parts: Netherlands, Belgium . . .
The man from Belgium recommended a hotel to us, and it turned out to be where we were staying: Hotel Senhora a Branca, reflecting the name of the church - Igreja Senhora a Branca - and the name of the square - Largo Senhora a Branca, where the hotel is located. We have stayed there all three trips and will again. It's a comfortable hotel, reasonably priced, with beautiful rooms and a friendly staff. And we made friends with a young intern who has received her Masters in cultural tourism and who took us on a tour of her Braga the last evening we were there. (Thank you, Ines!)
And then there is the mysterious young woman who is always playing her violin on one street or another:
|who is she? |
|Her playing is haunting. |
Next blog will be about the Churches, Gardens, and Museums of Braga. Stay tuned.
Meanwhile, what is the best restaurant meal you've ever had? Do you like to read while you eat? Are you a vegetarian? If so, what kind? (I have learned that there are quite a few classifications.)
Is there a better way to start the new year than by introducing you to a book which will take you somewhere you’ve likely not visited via picture books before, is illustrated by the first Asian recipient of the most prestigious awards in children’s literature, the Hans Christian Andersen Award, and is about to be published for the first time in the UK with its original illustrations?
The Little Black Fish written by Samad Behrangi, translated by Azita Rassi and illustrated by Farshid Mesghali is perhaps the most famous children’s book of all time back in its home country, Iran.
As anyone who’s spent time with children knows, the littlest people can ask the biggest questions, and so it is with the little black fish in this story who wants to find out more about life outside of the pool where he and his family have always lived. Just because the family have always lived a certain way, why shouldn’t this brave and curious fish extend his horizons and set out to explore beyond his known world?
As the fish travels downstream he sees incredible sights the like of which he could never before have imagined. He also faces some terrible dangers. Will the fish survive to see his dream – the wide open ocean? Will his story of inquisitiveness and desire for freedom inspire others?
Behrangi’s story took on great political significance in Iran after it was published, read by many adults as a political allegory (you can find out more here). Indeed the message was so powerful, the book was banned in pre-revolutionary Iran. Whilst this historical background gives the book an additional charge for adults, younger readers in 2015 can enjoy this short story as an encouraging tale about believing in oneself, about learning from personal experience, and about not being afraid to be different.
The Little Black Fish won the First Graphic Prize at Sixth International Children Books’ Fair (1968) in Bologna for its illustrations by Farshid Mesghali. The stylish bold textured prints in a limited range of colours are beautifully reproduced and bound in this smart edition from Tiny Owl Publishing. Their apparent simplicity suggests something both childlike and timeless.
Inspired by the style of illustrations in The Little Black Fish we set about creating fish prints using plasticine (oil based, non permanent modelling clay). This was a great activity for giving old and manky plasticine one last shot at life!
We squished together lots of old pieces, and created “blanks” of different sizes. These blanks were turned into fish shapes using scissors to cut them, and then decorated with impressions made using butter (blunt) knives, forks and sharpened pencils.
Top tips for printing with plasticine
Plasticine is more forgiving than lino or styrofoam for printing with little kids; it works really well when the inked design is squished a little bit into the paper.
If it’s a bit old or hard for little hands to work, drop it into a bowl of hot water or run it under the hot water tap for 10-20 seconds. This will soften it up and make it much more malleable and easier to press implements into.
Pencils work really well as mini rolling pins for little hands to roll out the modelling clay.
Once the plasticine is in the shape you desire, you can put it in the fridge for an hour or two to firm up before printing.
If you use poster paint or water-based printing ink, this can simply be washed off the plasticine afterwards. Because the plasticine is oil based, water is repelled and once the ink has been washed off you can dry the modelling clay and reuse it (something you can’t do with styrofoam or lino!).
Buttons, lego bricks, cocktail sticks, forks, hair grips, seed pods, pencils and shells are all useful tools for making impressions in the plasticine.
Once our prints were made we worked on some net-themed frames for them, making use of some of the cardboard collected over the Christmas parcel and present season. Here’s a short animated tutorial I made to show you how we did it:
Here are some of our finished and framed prints of fish exploring the wider world!
Whilst weaving and printing we listened to:
Persian songs for kids on youtube including
Some Iranian folk music and dance including
We also watched several videos of Viguen, “King of Iranian Pop”, including
Other activities which would go well with reading The Little Black Fish include:
Creating a fish from paper lanterns – here’s a lovely looking tutorial from Live. Craft. Love.
Making folded paper fish using this tutorial from Buggy and Buddy. There’s something about how these look which reminds me of the print patterns created by Mesghali.
Turning toilet rolls into fish, with this tutorial from No Time for Flash Cards.
I’m delighted that Tiny Owl Publishing will be bringing us more translated Iranian children’s books in the coming months (although I do hope that future books will fully credit the illustrator and translator on the front cover of books, not just inside). What other unsung heroes in the international picture book world would you recommend I look out for – authors and illustrators who are famous in their home countries but who haven’t had wide recognition in the English speaking world?
Finally, you might notice things look a little different on the blog today. Over Christmas I updated the blog so that it should now be fully mobile-platform friendly; if you want to view this blog on your phone or tablet it should now be much easier to navigate and more pleasant to look at as the text and images are fully scalable. I’ll also take this opportunity to highlight Playing by the book can be found on twitter @playbythebook, Facebook, Pinterest and even (in a very small way) on Youtube – please feel free to follow me wherever it suits you.
Disclosure: I received a free review copy of The Little Black Fish from the publisher.
Below is my review of This Is Not My Hat
, as it appears in the July 2014, edition of School Library Journal
This book offers a wonderful opportunity for cross-curricular instruction - adding music knowledge and appreciation to language arts. Think of it as "Peter and the Wolf lite" for young listeners!Listen to an excerpt from This is Not My Hat on Audible's website.
KLASSEN, JON. This Is Not My Hat. 1 CD w/tr book. 34 min.
Scholastic Audio. 2014. $29.95. ISBN
PreS-Gr 3— Opening with "This hat is not mine. I just stole it," a small fish takes the listener into his confidence as he makes his getaway toward a place where he thinks that no one will ever find him. This unapologetic thief, his annoyed (and very large) victim, and a stool pigeon crab tell this wryly humorous and cautionary fish story. The outcome contains enough ambiguity that sensitive listeners can believe that the robber has more options than becoming a fish dinner. Irish narrator John Keating does a great job with a title that relies heavily on sight gags. Appropriately, his impudent robber is not particularly likable. Nevertheless, the listener empathizes with the brash little chap. A string ensemble, in a manner similar to Peter and the Wolf, accompanies the narration. A cello represents the larger fish, who never speaks, while a violin characterizes the smaller fish. The music ebbs and flows to match the story. Two versions are included on the CD. A gentle marimba riff signals page turns on the first version. The accompanying hardcover book is a "must" to truly enjoy this Caldecott Medal winner. Humor fans will love it.
Copyright © 2014Library Journals, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. Reprinted with permission.
This week’s Illustration Friday theme is “red“ and the first thing that popped into my addled brain was ”red herring”. So I thought, hey, I’ll redraw and repost this from a couple of years ago. What the heck, I’m on a roll.
Most mystery novel and film buffs know that a red herring is a plot device used in film noir, murder mysteries and suspense films, to distract the audience away from the more important aspect of the plot. The red herring can sometimes be a character, believed by the audience to be the killer, only to discover later in the film that they are innocent and another character, never even considered is, in fact, the murderer.
Now that you have your twist ending, do you know where the term red herring originated?
Wikipedia tells us:
A tradition whereby young hunting dogs in Britain were trained to follow a scent with the use of a “red” (salted and smoked) herring. This pungent fish would be dragged across a trail until the puppy learned to follow the scent. Later, when the dog was being trained to follow the faint odor of a fox or a badger, the trainer would drag a red herring (which has a much stronger odor) across the animal’s trail at right angles. The dog would eventually learn to follow the original scent rather than the stronger scent.
I’ve also heard that British fugitives in the 1800s would rub a herring across their trail, in order to divert the bloodhounds pursuing them.
All this talk is whetting my appetite for a bit of kipperes and toast (NOT!) and a Hitchcock film or two (YES!).
and her little fish friend, pisces, of course ;)
she is the fist in a series of mermaids based on birthstones for every month of the year. i chose my favorite gemstone first, the aquamarine. funny, considering i am the biggest PINK fanatic there is. however, i have always been completely entranced by the beauty and serenity of the aquamarine. just a breathtakingly BEAUTIFUL stone!
ok...back to little beryl here...;)
the ORIGINAL painting is for sale here:
and PRINTS ARE AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST. message me through the link above and i can surely accommodate you.
can't wait to do more of these little beauties....
Oh my dears, I'm sorry I've been on the quiet side! After our five or six years of living & loving the Cornish dream, I've moved out of Falmouth! Before you ask yes, I miss my seagulls. Now I'm based in Canterbury, which is lovely to look at & has the most beautiful old buildings. It's certainly is a lot busier than Cornwall, which so far has only annoyed me, so perhaps I'm learning a lesson about Cathy + Cities.
But why leave all those beautiful, bounteous seagulls? Not because I favour the skinny little things in the East, that's for sure. I got a new job, which isn't in Cornwall, it's at Maidstone T.V studios. Now I am working in the art dept. of the BBC kids art show, Mister Maker!
Seriously, honestly, I am 26 years old & the sped up doodle draws sequence ALWAYS makes me giggle. Anyway, now I get to design makey stuff & make makey stuff & go home covered in spray paint (& acrylic paint, & poster paint...)every day. I'm very 'green' compared to the rest of the team, but I really enjoy being constantly amazed by sets & cameras & the fact I get a little beepy card to get into the studio. I know, way swish.
Alas, the new series 'Mister Maker Around the World' isn't going to be on telly for a wee while, so I can't update any details about what I'm doing exactly, but I'll still put up anything I make for myself. So I made you some fish.
I like the green one best.