I recently traveled from Lisbon with the coastal railway down to Cascais to explore a little vegetarian paradise in the center of Cascais: Cafe Galeria House of Wonders.
Entering this lovely place, the smell of freshly baked cakes and welcoming atmosphere warms up every heart. You can have a lunch at the restaurant, visit the gallery with its selected handcrafts or stay at the cafe with its beautiful roof top contemplating the view on the bay.
Anna, the owner offers us for this article one of her recipes: Vegetarian lentils stew with baby pumpkin and brussels sprouts.
Just wonderful !
When Anna Catharina de Bruin arrived in Cascais, she realised that a “cool Café” missed and she started over 4 years ago step by step to built up her dream the “House of Wonders”, bringing art, local products, good music, cultural events and good food together. “Now it´s called a concept store, but when I started, it was called “confusion”, as the authorities did not quite understand if I wanted a Café to serve coffees or a store to sell art ;)”. The name was inspired from the original House of Wonders which is located on the shores of Stonetown, the capital of the spice island of Zanzibar. It was the first House with lights, many years ago, serving as lighthouse of the village. It is now a museum keeping treasures of the past discovery trails into East Africa.
One of the dishes at “House of Wonders” is:
- 200 gr of brown lentil
- 200 gr of orange lentils
- 4 chopped onions
- 1 baby pumpkin
- 4 parsnips cut in four
- 4 red peppers cut in cubes
- 300 ml of tomatoe sauce made with fresh rama tomato
- 250 gr of brussel sprouts cut in 4
- 100 cl of olive oil
- 200 gr of chopped parsley
- Seasoning: ground pepper, harissa (Middle Eastern spice), sweet chilli in powder, salt q.b.
- 2 spoons of yogurt
- Start by braising the onion until it becomes translucid and soft.
- Separately mix together the parsnip, the red pepper and the pumpkin, letting them cook just enough to gain a light texture externally, seasoning them with some salt and pepper.
- Once this is done, join them to the onion.
- Add the lentils, the tomato sauce and the spices.
- Finally braise the brussel sprouts and add them to the rest.
- When placed on the plate, it can be served with a spoon of yogurt to balance the flavours.
- Attention! In vegan cases, do not add the yogurt.
- Bon appetite !
But how does it come that Anna arrived here in Cascais?
The Dhows…they are the oldest hand built wooden vessels circling the Indian Ocean, following Monsoon winds touching the shores of the Arabian Peninsula to India down to the Swahili coastline. They spend long lives at sea, providing transport for people and goods. The smaller vessels are used by Swahili fishermen for many years before they have to give up their maritime life and end up broken and abandoned on the beaches. It is from there we bought them and upcycled the wood into home furniture and décor. It was a project of fair trading, that lasted for many years and gave back to East African communities as well as joy to owners of beautiful one off pieces of furniture in their homes.
Thank you Anna, Dominique and your friendly team for welcoming me so kindly!