Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Paid in cakes

When a friend asked Peter to come up with a logo for a new coffee shop recently he took the opportunity to be paid in cakes.  We went to collect last week, as the coffee shop, Dona Chica opened to the public. 

Our friends, a family from Oliveira do Bairro, have taken on a cake shop and bakery in a village close to them.   It’s a bold move, there are thousands of cake shops and bakeries across Portugal, every village has one.  It’s also long hours, our local one is open from 6am to 11pm every day of the week, 365 days a year.
Arriving at Dona Chica we stepped into a slight chaos and very mild panic.   So much to do before the doors open the following morning.  Peter tasted the beer, it was fine so he felt he could have another.   I started cleaning tables and decorating the Christmas tree.

We took the tour, saw the bread chef making the bread, watched the pastry chef make Bolo Rei (a great mixture of dry fruit, bread style which you either love or hate….but once you’ve had it toasted smothered in butter then you’ll love it). 

We left at 8pm with things not finished, we were expected at dinner – the Portuguese are just wonderful at feeding you up, it’s like having several Jewish mothers “eat, eat”. 

In payment for Peter’s hard work on the logo we were going out that night to see a Portuguese X Factor runner up – Berg (follow this link to watch on YouTube, the language changes but the sentiment of the hard luck story stays with you!).
Arriving at the venue well past my bedtime at 11pm, Berg kept us waiting until 12.30am before he made is appearance (I mean Madonna doesn’t even make you wait that long!).   Great fun to be out past my normal bedtime though!
Dragging ourselves up the next morning at 8am, those working at the coffee shop had been up 2 hours already, we decided to visit local market town Agueda.  A strange trait of Portuguese towns is during the holiday period the local council decide what would really add atmosphere is to put up speakers across town and pump out pop music for 10 hours a day.  At Christmas, it’s Christmas music…..but this time we walked up a stunning historic street to the sounds of ‘I will survive’….sometimes Portugal is very strange indeed.

Heading back to the coffee shop we found it open, busy and running well.   Our friends in their Dona Chica t-shirts paid Peter in cakes and pastries, and I snuck in there too.   I'm delighted to say the bread, coffee, cakes and service was fantastic and the Christmas tree twinkled in the background.   
Good luck to them, I wouldn’t want to work the hours needed, but it is a family business and I hope that it works for them.   The upside is whenever we want to have some free coffee and cakes they are only an hour away which is great for us, the downside is that this family are going to be so busy from now on, taking time off in their holiday home in Pera will be a thing of the past which is a real shame for us.

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