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 opened three years ago in Ponte de Lima as a vegetarian oasis in the land of sarrabulho. Read more about Orelha d’Elefante, where everything put on the plate is thought out in detail.
When you enter, it’s inevitable not to notice that open kitchen. But only because of its size; you can’t hear a sound coming out of there, such is the harmony of the gestures and routines of those who work in it. In our ears, only Chico Buarque soundtracked the beautiful party that followed.
The menu here is simple, designed to nourish those who choose to have a healthy lunch. Despite being a vegan restaurant, Rafael is quick to conclude that if they depended on vegetarian customers in the area, Orelha would no longer exist. Letícia adds that the majority of customers are people who are reducing their meat consumption and are looking for a different option to the traditional ones.
It was as a couple that they decided to change their lifestyle and diet, preferring plants, the natural and the organic. This learning also gave them the desire to pass something on to others, hence the birth of Orelha d’Elefante, the restaurant where nature calls the shots.
All products are organic and as local as possible. When they opened their doors, they even served eggs, coming from the family hens, which were no longer enough. That’s when they realized they didn’t want animal products. They also had a breakfast and snack menu, but then realized that this took away the time they needed for another key part of the business, the ready-to-eat products, such as hamburgers and croquettes. “We didn’t want to fail those who rely on these products to be able to put all the food options on the table,” says Letícia, lamenting that she no longer serves her famous pancakes or toast stuffed with tofu and mushrooms. Now, these specials are only part of the brunches they organize from time to time and in partnership with a yoga school — keep an eye on their social media so you don’t miss the next one.
You add changes to the menu, new timetables tryouts, more and more training in macrobiotics and the certainty of always wanting to serve the best and the result is clear to see. Orelha is now a restaurant without animal products, with a macrobiotic influence and a focus on zero waste. That’s why they now only serve a lunch menu and work by appointment only.
“Just having the option of two dishes could lead to waste if many people opted for one of them. And we don’t want that. Throwing food away is very painful, especially when we know that everything here is made with very good quality ingredients,” explains Letícia.
On the day Peggada visited Orelha d’Elefante, the menu mixed more adventurous flavors with traditional ones: millet with pumpkin, pickled onions, blanched asparagus and mushrooms à Moda do Porto. In the mouth, you feel the taste of a real feijoada where you don’t notice the absence of the ingredients from the original recipe, and all the other elements that give the dish freshness and novelty with every bite.
The desserts are another of the restaurant’s strong points, whether you eat them on the spot or order them to take home. We chose one of the best sellers: the apple cake with salted caramel topping, all made without the use of refined flours or sugars. On the day of the chocolate salami or its version of Snickers, there’s sure to be nothing left in the window either.
The most sustainable things about Orelha d’Elefante
As well as the menu being plant-based, the ingredients come from local producers. The dry ingredients, on the other hand, are bought in large quantities to avoid more packaging.
They don’t sell bottled water and preferred to invest in a filter so they could serve water to everyone in their own glass bottles. They also don’t have microwaves and avoid using the oven because of its energy consumption.
Some of the furniture is second-hand, the rest was bought from a factory in Famalicão, finished by the two of them. They’ve tried to buy as little as possible, which is why many of the kitchen utensils are inherited from both sides of the family.
The napkins are made of cloth, as are the towels in the bathroom, available for drying hands, but also for changing diapers.
You can visit Orelha d’Elefante from Monday to Saturday, from 9am to 3pm. In the morning, there’s always coffee and a cake to start the day, as well as a grocery store where there’s no shortage of legumes and bulk flours, teas, spices or even tofu and seitan to try and recreate at home.
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 has served meat and fish before, presented breakfasts, brunches and even dinners. It now has a vegetarian menu and serves lunch with what comes
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