It’s far from the city center, in a neighborhood that has only gained from an out-of-the-box offer. Alecrim aos Molhos is a cafeteria, a grocery
It has served meat and fish before, presented breakfasts, brunches and even dinners. It now has a vegetarian menu and serves lunch with what comes both from farmers and the mind of Joana, the chef who is not a chef and who prefers to live without rules in the kitchen.
Seven years ago, Joana Oliveira didn’t know how to boil an egg. It’s not a metaphor or a cute story that’s good to tell when we’re talking about the owner of one of the leading restaurants in the art of serving fresh, seasonal food with original flavors.
The arrival of this engineer from Porto into the world of gastronomy was made up of chance and few rules. It all started when she decided to give a hand to some friends who had opened a guest house and restaurant thinking outside the box, still in Invicta. It was there she learned how to boil an egg, but also how to make pancakes, juice and granola.
That granola became homemade, and with her grandmother’s help it even got branding. “Since I use cinnamon in everything, my grandmother would often say, ‘There she is goes with the cinnamon’,” Joana tells Peggada. That’s why “Ela Canela” was the name chosen for her granola and later, in Lisbon, also for her restaurant, which she has kept open for six years in Campo de Ourique.
The trip south took place without any major plans, apart from the idea of having a place to make her granola “and other little breakfast things”, she says. But when he found that corner store full of light, he realized that it couldn’t be just that. She then opened a restaurant that was different from what had previously been seen in Lisbon, with vegetarian options, but also fish and meat, with seasonal products, often with a menu decided on the day, with the freshest produce.
It quickly stopped serving meat to focus on vegetarian dishes and its much-loved fish option. “Chef Lucas Azevedo, who is also a friend of mine, used to come here early in the morning, before going to his own restaurant, to teach me how to cut fish and how to make the most of it,” she says.
However, since she was the only one on the team who knew how to do it without wasting food — and waste is something that doesn’t happen here — she decided to take a break from fish for a while, not least because now there’s another part of her life that needs attention. Joana became a mother last year and now dedicates herself between her two passions, giving as little time as possible in the moments she spends with both.
An ever-changing Ela Canela
Initially open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., serving everything from breakfast and lunch to snacks, it has also moved to brunches and even dinners. Now, until the next change, it is open from 12 noon to 4pm from Tuesday to Saturday.
The menu changes every four or five weeks to keep it as seasonal as possible. But you can breathe a sigh of relief: the pancakes are always there, nicely wrapped in the hazelnut butter that has made them famous in the city. Now, it’s good that you don’t cling emotionally to the usual flavors and let yourself be carried away by what’s richest at the moment. This is how the dishes and toasts are composed.
Now that it’s asparagus season, it has become the topping for that slice of slow-fermented bread. The soups, salads and vegetables that make up the dishes, on the other hand, are made from what comes in from the producers each week.
Sustainability at Ela Canela
Joana admits that she never thought “I’m going to open a sustainable restaurant”. It just happened, bringing the good practices she’d had ever since she was a child to the space she now owns. “My mother watered the plants with the water she used to wash the vegetables and always had the windows open to make the most of the sunlight,” she recalls. Ela Canela is the same, and it’s no coincidence that the high ceiling is completely glazed. “We rarely have to turn on the light,” he says.
In addition, the tableware is all Portuguese and the products are as local as possible, giving preference to organic sources.
They always offer tap water and already have several customers who bring their own containers for the take-away. Joana enjoys a close relationship with everyone, and doesn’t shy away from telling them to let her know if there’s an ingredient in the dish that they don’t like, so that they can make switch it. “I’d rather do anything than see food go to waste.” So do we, which is why Ela Canerla couldn’t be missing from Peggada’s list of the most sustainable restaurants.
Zomato and Peggada have teamed up to launch a new Eco and Sustainable Collection.
Zomato is the most widely used restaurant discovery app in Portugal. The updated content includes restaurant menus, photos, addresses and other information, users can also rate and give feedback on the restaurants. It is the most complete app for those looking for options to eat out, take-away service, reservations, contactless solutions for restaurants, and has recently launched the Delivery service – new Zomato app.
Marta Cerqueira is from Minho and vegetarian. Luckily, she lives in Lisbon, where there is more tofu than sarrabulho. She has been a journalist for over 15 years, the last of which writing about food and sustainability. Now, out of the newsroom, she continues to write whenever she can, be it in magazines, journals, post its, or on her Instagram page, which she uses to share a life divided between being a mom-person-foodie-traveler. Still, she created Peggada so she could write about what doesn't fit in a magazine, journal, post it or Instagram: a better world.
It opened as Botanista in 2018, introducing Lisbon to vegan options it had never seen before. There have been many changes over the years, but
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