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.
The kitchen of Anna is vegetarian and mostly inspired by the meze-style: small plates, dips, and salads meant to be shared as an appetizer course or light meal—is common throughout the Mediterranean and Middle East.
One of the dishes at “House of Wonders” is:
Dominique is preparing for us his incredible juice creations !
After a spinach – grape – kiwi – ginger cocktail or a ginger shot you have no choice: Your inner soul just rolls over with joy 😉
Most incredible fruit in october in Portugal is the kaki persimmon (caqui): its a vitamin bomb ! Contains antioxidants like Vitamin A, C, beta-carotene and lycopene.
Gin Gin with Bernardo- one of the sweet hearts of Annas kitchen !
But how does it come that Anna arrived here in Cascais?
Born in the Netherlands she started travelling and working abroad at 27. She realised Human Resources were the essence to hospitality and developed many training programmes which took she to do assignments all over Latin America, the Caribbeans and East Africa. She loves concepts and was approached to manage small hospitality properties and give new life to them. This always included local human resources, local artisans and producers of local produce. So she spent many years doing this in lots of different locations and one day she decided to return to Europe, however as far North as Portugal, staying close to her beloved continent of Africa.
” I am not 100 % vegetarian, I love fish, but only the nice big tropical red snappers I know in the Caribbean and Indian Ocean. However I love eating vegetables every day, I love vegetables for their looks, their gratefulness in cooking methods, their versatility and the fact that they are good friends all together on one plate … leaving us put down the final fork and feeling healthy and happy. Yotam Ottolenghi is my guru if I have one, I love that he brings to the world the wonderful combination of food, enjoyed all over the middle-east. All sides of the region, proving that food connects. I love that he uses herbs and spices, cooks honest good food and cares a lot about presentation.”
Yeah there is everything for sweet gourmets: also a multiple choice of amazing vegan cakes…. Mmmmmmhhhhh…
Anna has also a passion for the Dhows.
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.
We can´t wait for the inauguration of the oven which will be on the day when people want to be down close to the fire, for now everyone runs up to enjoy the last days of the Sao Martinho summer.
So let´s meet around soon….;-)
on Largo de Misericordia 53
2750-436, Cascais, Portugal
P: + 351 91 170 2428
One of Anna´s prefered songs:
Thank you Anna, Dominique and your friendly team for welcoming me so kindly!