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LusoLIFE

Christmas Gift Guide

That time of year is approaching and it's always a good idea to start your Christmas shopping early! We have put together a little gift guide to help get the generosity juices flowing and make sure you are able to find the perfect present. Whether it's a small stocking filler or a grand gesture, there is something for everyone.

 

FOR THE FOODIE

   

Portugal is not widely known for its food scene but this is gradually changing and we are proud to be spreading the word about the delicious produce originating from this country. For the Foodie, we recommend one of Lusophile's alluring cookbooks full of original options for the festive period. We are also stocking a mouth-watering selection of jams and honeys, perfect for glazing meat or veggies, or for adding a sweet note to a cheese board. 

 

FOR THE PERFECT HOST


 


Who doesn't love a tapas night? Canapés? Our Appetiser Dish by Amorim Cork is perfect for arranging a selection of nibbles in the middle of the table while friends and family gather round with a glass of bubbly. The 3 dishes are removable for easy washing up. Our hand-painted ceramic coasters are also perfect for entertaining. The regular coasters protect your furniture from drips and spills and the larger size can be used as a hot pan stand or even as a serving platter!

 

FOR HIM

 

 

Men are renowned for being tricky to shop for so here at Lusophile we thought we would give you a helping hand. The Shaving Set by Ach Brito, one of Portugal's leading soap manufacturers, is the ultimate in luxury mens grooming. Everything you need, packaged in an artistic box. Just wrap! If you are confident enough to go for clothing, we have picked our 3 favourite pieces from Litoral's A/W collection: a shirt, t-shirt and chinos. Comfort and quality always. 

 

FOR THE YOGI

 

 

Lastly, we all know someone who is keen on their yoga or pilates. Cork yoga mats are becoming very popular in yoga studios across the world and it's easy to see why. Aside from looking far more stylish than their synthetic counterparts, the cork provides an excellent non-slip grip while remaining soft and cushioned underfoot. Cork is also a renewable resource, making this a sustainable product too.  

 

COUNTRY LIVING CHRISTMAS FAIR

Have you spotted something that you like the look of? Would you like to see it first-hand before purchasing? Then make sure you come and visit us as the Country Living Christmas Fair at the BDC in Islington next week! 

8th-12th November 2017 

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REVIEW | Bar Douro

REVIEW | Bar Douro

Photo: Bar Douro

Last week I was up in London for the Lusophile pop up event and, while I was there, I decided to finally book dinner at Bar Douro as a treat after a long day of managing the shop. I had been meaning to go since it opened and finally made it down to Flat Iron Square with a friend I met 3 years ago in Lisbon while studying abroad. I had read some great reviews and couldn't wait to sample some of the petiscos that were such a highlight of my time in Portugal!

We arrived extremely early as we couldn't quite match up the restaurant availability with our schedules but were able to sit outside while waiting for the table and catch up over a bottle of wine. The wine list is extensive so we asked for some advice and were pointed in the direction of a red from the Douro: Churchill's Estate. It went down very well indeed. We also ordered a portion of the Pão com chouriço (chorizo bread) to keep us going. This came as slices of soft baguette-style bread filled with chopped pieces of salty chorizo: the perfect appetiser.

Once our table became available and the third member of our party had arrived, we moved inside and began to pick out our favourites from the menu. If you are sitting at the counter, as we were, the food is cooked in front of you which is extremely helpful when trying to choose between so many delicious options. After much deliberation, we settled on Croquetes de Alheira (smoked Portuguese sausage) and Pataniscas de Bacalhau (salt cod fritters) from the petiscos section. The croquetes came as four little balls of lightly-fried sausage meat and we were all pleasantly surprised, having expected something more akin to slices of saucisson. The fritters were excellent; large chunks of fresh cod in a light batter.

croquetes de alheira bar douro

Photo: Foodism

From the Horta (garden), we chose the grilled aubergine. Delicious thin slices of aubergine in garlic chilli dressing with lime zest, covered in a layer of finely grated 18 month cured Serra cheese. If there was one dish that I could have eaten more of, it was probably this one.

Our seafood selections were Char-grilled Sardines with Blistered Peppers and Octopus with Sweet Potato. The sweet red peppers complemented the sardines beautifully. The sweet potato came in the form of both a puree and crispy shavings, with a large piece of octopus sitting on top. The mix of textures in this dish was quite spectacular. Finally, we devoured a portion of the Leitão - suckling pig with homemade crisps and pepper sauce - which just melted in the mouth.

suckling pig bar douro

Photo: Determined Diner

To finish, we decided to share a couple of desserts: the cheese board and one pastel de nata with cinnamon ice cream. Strangely, I think the highlight of the cheese board was in fact the crackers which had a slightly sweet aftertaste. The pastel de nata was completely authentic with crisp, flaky pastry and that silky custard filling. Whereas traditionally the cinnamon would be sprinkled over the top, here it came as a scoop of ice cream to make the dish seem like more of a dessert than a coffee shop pastry. We paired these desserts with a glass of Churchill's 10 Year Old Tawny Port and an espresso.

pastel de nata bar douro

Photo: Foodism

The atmosphere was fantastic, without being too rowdy. There are some traditional decoration choices such as Portuguese tiles to clad the bar and a large mural on the wall. Wood and metal bar stools are in keeping with the industrial vibe of the restaurant's railway arch setting. This is a brilliant choice for a midweek meal with friends, although I recommend booking in advance as there wasn't a spare seat in the house.

 

Dinner for 3 came to £130 including drinks and service. This might seem steep, however I find that these 'sharing' meals typically end up being more expensive. My overall feeling was that it was worth it.

 

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Back to Work

Back to Work

The bank holiday weekend has been and gone; all of a sudden September looms and we’re left wondering where the summer went. For most of us, that means back to work or back to school. Here at Lusophile we have decided to put together a list of items to kick-start a stylish September in the office:

1. Our first pick is an easy one: Artelusa’s cork backpack. It features regularly in our posts, proving just how versatile this bag is. Whether it’s a laptop and files or stacks of books, this is the perfect work companion. A smart yet stylish design that doesn’t compromise on practicality. Forget the satchel that leaves you leaning to one side for days, Artelusa has created a soft, lightweight bag with a number of easily-accessible zipped compartments, ideal for smaller bits and pieces. For more details on the benefits of cork as a material, head over to our dedicated cork post, but the main advantage here is that it softens over time and with use. The XL Cork Backpack is available in black or soft brown and has the added bonus of being a vegan product (Artelusa has been awarded the PETA Vegan seal.)

  Artelusa brown cork backpack Artelusa black cork rucksack

 

2. One for the girls: the RYG collection of shoes and loafers. As someone who is firmly committed to flat shoes, particularly at work, these have become a wardrobe favourite. A soft and supple off-white suede exterior is complemented by leather detailing in 3 pastel shades: cool aqua, pale pink or neutral beige. These shoes feature a classic suede tassel design and can smarten up any outfit. The main draw of our RYG collection is that the materials used are of such high quality that from day one they are perfectly comfortable without needing to be worn in. The loafers were recently featured by fellow flat-shoe enthusiast, the lovely Hannah Rochell of En Brogue, who shares her passion for comfortable yet stylish ladies shoes through her dedicated blog. Read the full post here ->

    RYG Womens suede tassel shoes beige RYG womens suede tassel loafers pink

     

    3. Now a couple of fashion picks for the boys, starting with our new A/W menswear range by Porto-based label Litoral. We have selected 3 items from their collection including a waffle tee, heavy cotton shirt and flannel cotton chinos. Inspired by the rugged Portuguese coastline, their pieces strike a perfect balance between comfort and style, prioritising top quality materials and craftsmanship.

       Luso mens heavy cotton shirt navy Boticas mens cotton flannel chinos black

       

      4. Let’s not forget our long-sleeved shirts by Lisbon-based fashion brand +351. Expanding as a result of their huge success both at home and overseas, this beautiful brand has just opened a new store in the stylish Chiado district of Lisbon. For our ‘Back to Work’ list, we’re selecting the long sleeved shirt, available in Stone or Denim colours. This is a great option for men who prefer a more slim-fitting shirt and is a lighter, smarter alternative to the Litoral option.

        Mens long sleeve cotton shirt denim Mens long sleeve cotton shirt off-white

         

        5. Having made it in to the office, there are a couple of desk essentials that we can’t do without. The first is a mug: the cork geniuses at Amorim have partnered with Matceramica to create a beautiful line of tableware that incorporates the expertise and materials of both companies. From espresso cups to teapots, each piece has a simple ceramic design in either dark grey or off-white with a removable cork base. This base is useful for two reasons: it acts as an insulating layer to keep your drink warm but also prevents burnt fingers as the cups have a no-handles design.

           Cork ceramic teacups dark grey white Cork ceramic teapot teacup dark grey

           

          6. Lastly, a notebook. Why not keep it colourful with one of Namban’s beautiful hand-crafted options, available in a range of colours and sizes, ruled or plain. They are bound in a traditional Japanese style with complementary thread colours and are an absolute must for anyone with even the slightest interest in stationary. I know we all love the classic Muji notebooks, but these are quite special.

            Namban green notebook Namban colourful notebooks

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            Design Edit | Using more YELLOW

            Design Edit | Using more YELLOW

            Yellow is one of those colours that so many people love, but shy away from in their fashion and interior choices. In this post we're going to offer up some bright and beautiful pieces that will add a yellow accent to your life this summer. Tiny bursts are the key here. 

            1. Kick off with Namban's IRO notebook. You can keep this one on your desk to add some sunshine to the work day, or pop it in your bag for on-the-go thoughts or sketches. These notebooks are handmade and feature a traditional Japanese binding and soft spine. Think Muji, but happier. Available in a variety of sizes and styles. 

            Thin yellow notebook

             

            2. Another subtle touch comes in the form of H.A.N.D's ceramic coasters and trivets. These pieces are crafted from pure white clay and are individually signed. Those of you who have been lucky enough to visit Portugal will undoubtedly have noticed the brightly coloured tiles that adorn the building façades and that have inspired the designs for these coasters. 

            Colourful ceramic coasters   Colourful ceramic coasters

             

            3. Next up we're embracing yellow in fashion with +351's cotton shorts. Throw them on for a casual day at the beach or pair with your best shoes for a smarter look. Although the colour may be bold, the cut is classic and comfortable.  

            Yellow cotton shorts   Yellow cotton shorts

             

            4. Finally, let's head indoors and add some yellow to the interiors palette. Yellow isn't my go-to colour when it comes to decoration, however these rugs by GUR are making me re-think. Whether it's sunshine yellow or erring more towards gold, a small pop of colour can be just what's needed to brighten up a sombre room. Woven on a traditional handloom, these designs are limited to editions of 50 to keep the collection fresh and constantly evolving. Your summer stripes are in there too; can't go wrong.

            Stripy cotton rug   Stripy cotton rug

             

            And for a final slice of inspiration, here's that famous 28 Tram and a classic yellow Lisbon façade that proves we should all be embracing our more colourful side this summer.

            Lisbon yellow tram

             

            Sign up to our newsletter for exclusive news and updates. Questions? Just send us an email at hello@lusophile.co.uk - we would love to hear from you! 

             

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            Design Edit | CORK

            Design Edit | CORK

            5 CORK products you never knew you wanted

            You say cork, I think wine. Or at least that's how it used to be, but cork is now becoming one of the go-to materials for interiors, fashion and beauty products ... and we're not the only ones who have noticed. 

            Cork is the bark harvested from the cork oak tree. Once stripped, the tree regenerates and produces a new layer of bark, making this a renewable resource. The harvesting process is undertaken by experts and no damage is caused to the tree. Once harvested, the cork can be treated and manipulated for a variety of different purposes. Portugal has a long history of exceptional craftsmanship when it comes to designing with cork and the country accounts for more than half of the world's cork production. It is no surprise then that Lusophile has selected some innovative cork pieces to feature in our launch collection:

             

            1. Cork Backpack | Artelusa

            A large backpack exquisitely crafted from soft, natural cork. The backpack is lined and features a buckle fastening, two additional zipped side pockets and a sturdy handle for carrying. Ideal for a laptop, books or for use as a fashion accessory. It just gets softer and softer every time you use it and provides a stylish alternative to leather. 

            Cork backpack featuring soft, sturdy design with zip fastening and side pockets. Gifts for him, gifts for her, back to school, cork design

             

            2. Cork and Ceramic Tableware | Amorim

            Not an obvious combination but it works so well. A traditional ceramic body (whether that be teapot, teacup, espresso cup) and a cork base to keep your drink warm and prevent burnt fingers at the same time. This is the ultimate tea set for anyone who likes clean lines and minimalist design.

            Cork and ceramic tableware by Amorim

             

            3. Cork Yoga Mat | Portugalia Cork

            Calling all yogis! If you're fed up with with your boring old yoga mat, this one's for you. It's extra soft underfoot whilst also providing excellent grip, not to mention the fact that it looks great with a natural deep brown finish. Portugalia Cork is committed to making the most environmentally-friendly yoga products on the market and giving back to the earth with every product sold. 

             

            4. Cork Soap | Al-Guidar

            These 100g bars of soaps use quality cork that is 100% natural, recyclable and biodegradable, combined with other essential oils and natural ingredients. Presented in a beautiful cork wrapper, these soaps provide a nourishing and hydrating choice for those who prefer an eco-friendly option. Available in 4 varieties, all with different properties and benefits for the skin. You can get the matching cork soap dish too!

             

            5. Cork 'grow-your-own' Herb Pot | Life in a Bag

            Have you ever wanted to grow your own produce but decided against it due to lack of space or fear of it not working? This is your chance to have your very own herb garden. Life in a Bag's mission is to make it easy and fun to grow your own nutritious herbs and microgreens using their simple kits. Everything you need is included in this little cork pot and all you need to do is water it. The kit provides enough seeds to grow 3 plants and, even when it's all gone, you still have a beautiful cork pot for utensils, pens or more plants. Get growing.

             

             

             

             

             

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