Coffee Art, Dinner with “The Boys”, and The Latest from My Incompetent Portuguese Slumlord
In Week 40, I continued to enjoy My Incompetent Portuguese Slumlord’s antics, while working to further local coffee art talent. As a bonus, I was introduced to some of the best local food in an unexpected way.
Update: My Incompetent Portuguese Slumlord
Recently, my Incompetent Portuguese Slumlord sent the required letter of non-renewal of lease to the mailbox to which he never gave me a key that works. Ever since the letter was returned to him and he realized his costly mistake, he has been on more of a tear than usual. The noise coming from his empty apartment across from mine happens more frequently and he’s added some variety. No longer is it simply one loud tone, but the volume goes up and down, making sort of a “Slumlord Melody”. It’s simply delightful. I’m writing lyrics to go along with the melodies and might make him a CD of my collection as a little gift of my appreciation.
Whatever is making the ruckus in his empty apartment, must be controlled by the downstairs neighbor as when he is not home, I never hear the noise. Additionally, when I’ve tried to be friendly and chat with the guy, he is not interested. So basically the entire beco gets along great except for the one weirdo who lives below me and chain smokes below my window. You would think he would be grateful as since the entire building’s electricity was put in my name back in June, I’m paying for his power.
So, to thank him and my slumlord for making me feel so at home here in Lisbon, I took a little trip to the power company and made a little change that will hopefully make us all feel closer. I asked them to lower the amp service on my account, aka the building. When they asked if I really wanted to do this as I might have blackouts at peak times, I smiled confidently and said “ABSOLUTELY”. I will never forget our first blackout and all the noise in my neighbor’s apartment below as he scrambled to find the electric box and restore his power.
Developing Local Coffee Art Talent
After working from home in the morning, I often wander down to my beloved Green Cafe for either lunch or a galão in the afternoon while I continue working. There is a happier vibe there lately as the construction work that was happening in the street just by the café has finally ended. Now instead of loud noises from the work, we hear the bells of the trams as they pass once again. There is also a cute holiday train that passes playing festive music and is full of tourists enjoying the sights and sounds of Christmas in Lisbon.
When I arrive at the café, Daniela the waitress says “Galão?” asking if I want my usual. After an extended wait, my coffee drink arrives. Kai, the guy that makes all the smoothies and coffee drinks, has been on a mission lately to decorate my galãos with beautiful coffee art. He’s become quite good at it and I’ve taken a photo of each of his creations, which are improving over time, becoming more detailed and fancy. While I love having him at the café, Daniela said he wants to find a job in another café, which I fully support.
One day, I showed Daniela the photos I’d taken of all his beautiful coffee art. While Kai can be a bit shy, Daniela is his fearless advocate. She said the photos would be great to show in his next job interview. I went to work and edited all of the pictures to make them work as a sort of “portfolio”. I shared them with Daniela and she and I are encouraging Kai to use them in his job search.
Dinners With The Boys
When I arrived in the Alfama back in February, one of the first places I came for a drink and a bite was the one neighborhood night spot that is not a fado restaurant. Fado is the local music that traces its roots to Lisbon’s Alfama district where it is pervasive. While I like a good night of fado, when I am winding down from a typical day I usually prefer to do that without the melancholy mood setting music. York Burger is the perfect spot for me on my way home. The bar has a simple menu, with mostly sandwiches and a nice chicken dish, all spectacular. Most of the customers are locals, including many of the fado singers who come in on their breaks for a quick drink.
In the early days, one of the two brothers who own and run the place, Carlos, told me he would cook anything for me, I just needed to ask the day before. I’ve considered this many times but never took him up on it the offer. When I think of what to ask for I always want what I miss most from the US including NYC pizza, pulled pork BBQ sandwiches, and Uncle Gussy’s gyro pita, greek and mild style.
Lately, when I’ve come in by myself and the café is not busy, Carlos asks if I want some of what he is cooking for him and his brother, who are affectionately called “The Boys” by many. They always eat a dinner that is not on the menu and always looks yummy. As I had not eaten anything that Carlos cooked from the bar’s menu that was not amazing, I eagerly said yes. Since that night, I’ve been included in their dinners a few times, and it’s been heavenly. Ribs, or pork or beef often paired with Carlos’s scalloped potatoes that are highly addictive. I have to split the dinner in half and eat some later which always makes for a happy lunch and a less caloric dinner.
One night, after another fabulous dinner, we looked up my Incompetent Portuguese Slumlord on the net. Carlos, who is connected on Facebook with many resident’s of the Alfama does not know him or share any facebook friends. This is a good thing as since I reported him to the city for his unlicensed Airbnb there is a better chance that he won’t have local connections waiting for me at night as I head home on the beco.
What would I have done without “The Boys” from York Burger during my first year in the Alfama?