I really love Catavino – it’s such an informative and innovative source of information on Spanish & Portuguese wines. The food of the region is key, but it’s just as vital to know about the great wines available too. This is the place to find out!
Jose Pizzaro http://www.josepizarro.com

Archive | Culture

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Culture is the adhesive that binds a community together. From gastronomy to music, we provide the stories that give you a foundational understanding of Spain and Portugal.

Deciphering the Vibrant Street Art of Porto

Enchanting, mystical, charming…these three words perpetually fall off my tongue when I describe the city of Porto. It’s a city that holds a thousand secrets etched on porcelain tiled buildings and abandoned romantic gardens teeming with flowering camelia trees. It’s a city where a 102 year old grandmother draped in black will smile broadly as you pass by, oblivious to your “foreign” appearance; or where young teenage boys will respectfully part their testosterone filled wave of jostling in order for you and your mammoth stroller to pass. However, what truly makes Porto unique is its architecture. Never has a city whispered so many stories, or expressed such unique personalities, through its concrete walls. And though many of Porto’s buildings have […]

The Lush Green Parks and Gardens of Porto, Portugal

There are few cities in the world that are internationally known for their parks. Off the top of my head, I can think of Central Park in New York City, Parc Guell in Barcelona, Stanley Park in Vancouver, Griffith Park in Los Angeles, Lincoln Park in Chicago and Monsanto Park in Lisbon, but never once has anyone boasted of the rich, green paradises of Porto. Never has anyone sat down with me and said, “Hey Gabriella, make sure you squirrel away some time to see some of the most delicious gardens, incredible vistas or panoply of birds that grace our city parks!” As a lover of all things leafy, I’m amazed that this nugget of information is kept secret, and […]

Christmas in Spain: How the Natives Dive into the Holiday Season

Christmas in Spain begins the weekend of December 8th on the day of the “Inmaculada” Saint. As Christmas is predominantly a religious holiday in Spain, despite the recent adoption of more western traditions, the days building up to the birth of Jesus and the gift of the Magi are still a time for veneration. If you’re ever in Madrid for this season, and you want to celebrate as the locals do, this guide will help you truly feel, eat and celebrate like a Madrileño! On December 8th, Spaniards from the surrounding pueblos make a pilgrimage to the city center to revel in a time honored tradition, which hardly changes from year to year. The first stop is Puerta del Sol, […]

Cutting to the Bone: The cultural nuances of butchering meat

It’s 7:30 am, the mist is rolling off the breathtaking Umbrian countryside, and the sun is breaking through the leaves. I sip on my cappuccino and stare at the enormous carcass of a 400lb pig and wonder, how are we going to butcher this enormous beast? We’re staying at a beautiful country inn, just 5km from the border with Umbria, and our mission is to help Giugliano, our charismatic host, in the Spezzatura di Maiale, or as we call it, Butchering the Pig. Our group consists of 15 adults and 8 kids, none of us with butchering experience, but we all love food and everything that goes with it. So, here we all are, bright and early, now coming to […]

History of Jazz in Catalunya, Spain

Welcome to the Vi Jazz festival in Vilafranca del Penedés: balmy summer nights, free Jazz concerts galore, and abundant local wine in the historic center of this modest Catalán city of around 40,000 inhabitants. Dating back to the 12th century, Vilafranca is the economic engine and heart of the Penedés wine industry. While Penedés garners most of its international prestige from the crisp, bubbly cava that flows like rivers through the daily lives of the people of Catalonia, the region also produces whites, reds, and rosés of admirable quality. Interestingly, though wine takes center stage all year round in Vilafranca, on every first weekend of July, Jazz music from around the globe shares, if not dominates, the spot light. The […]

Catavino Welcomes a New Writer to Our Team!!

Granted, our new writer is more focused on articles related to lactose based beverages, but soon, he’ll be craving a wide range of flavors, textures and aromas. Hence, it is with great pleasure we announce our son: Mica Douro Opaz, born July 25th at 3:39am weighing 3.095 kg and 49.5 inches long, a squishy, delightful little creature with enormous feet, perfect for grape stomping! Your eyebrow might be cocked at the moment as you survey the date. But that was a few weeks ago?! Yes, you are absolutely correct, but due to some complications, Gabriella has had to remain in hospital an extended period of time, which prevented us from spreading the news too wide. This week, we will finally […]

The Textures of Porto: What Makes a City Beautiful?

Have you ever struggled to see what someone else finds beautiful? “Look!” your partner says with a smile, “Isn’t that tree absolutely beautiful?!” Staring at the emaciated lopsided trunk with 3 blooming red flowers, you smile, “Yeah hon, it’s sweet, but not sure I’d call that beautiful.” “What do you mean? It’s stunning in this light? How could you not see it?” It’s hard to “see” what someone else sees, isn’t it? I say this because Ryan and I had a very similar experience of Porto. If I’m to be honest, I wasn’t ecstatic to move to a city known for its gray wet skies and gale force winds. Having spent many vacations in Maine as a child, I was perfectly […]

The Life of a Spanish Goat Herder

Editor’s Note: There is something to be said for those who are willing to throw caution to the wind and try something new, different, risky, but on the most basic level, incredibly satisfying. This particular interview is with a husband and wife team who did just that. Originally from the UK, Diane and Peter Elliot of “Experience Olvera” are now goat herders in Andalucia, selling goat’s milk at .50 cents a liter. To give you a sense of their hard work, 2-3 hours of milking lends approximately 80 liters, which doesn’t include time spent caring for the goats or their land. Are they living the high life? No. But are they enjoying a very peaceful and simple life that has […]

Part III: An Ode to My Three Grandmothers and Their Portuguese Stories

Editor’s Note: In this three-part series, Sonia shares memories of her three grandmothers in Portugal. How they influenced her curiosity about the country and its culture—in hopes that they’ll also inspire you to continue exploring Portugal, or discover it for the first time. Read Part I and II. There’s always that person in your family that your parents insist you’re like, even if you haven’t had enough contact with that person to justify such similarities. I guess it’s in your genes? That’s likely the case with me and my Avo Ermelinda. A woman that inspires me in spite of the little time I spent with her. My parents are sure that my love for writing comes from her. She wrote poetry. She also loved […]

Part II: An Ode to My Three Grandmothers and Their Portuguese Stories

Editor’s Note: In this three-part series, Sonia shares memories of her three grandmothers in Portugal. How they influenced her curiosity about the country and its culture—in hopes that they’ll also inspire you to continue exploring Portugal, or discover it for the first time.  Read Part 1 here. Part II On my hunt for “Pao de Lo de Ovar,” I walked the city of Ovar (new to me) alone, while my then 89-year-old grandmother (Avo Maze) waited patiently with my husband at an esplanade (open space). I passed ornate buildings with alluring tiled facades that beckoned closer inspection; but I forced myself to focus on my mission. The mission: spongy cake with an egg-cream center. I had heard the best was at a place called “O […]