It was a warm summer morning when scrolling through my Inbox I saw the subject “Portuguese Land Rovers” an e-mail sent by Huckberry, a long-time guilty pleasure newsletter (it’s 99% focused on outdoorsy men stuff…), that makes me crave for adventures and wild expeditions.
I remember perfectly the mix of curiosity, excitement and pride when I clicked to read it. “A Portuguese brand on Huckberry’s Journal? A-mazing!” I thought. I had previously seen some Portuguese brands being sold at Huckberry’s online store, but this was a proper feature on Cool & Vintage, a company dedicated to restoring vintage Land Rovers.
Fast-forward a few months and a couple of reciprocate courtesies, and Zé Pedro Alvarez, Cool & Vintage’s talented photographer suggested we meet.
“Let’s do something, you know, with one of our jeeps, and your food and wandering spirit, in Arrábida” he said. I obviously replied “Of course!”, not exactly knowing what that “something” meant.
So I kind of went with the flow, trying to keep up with all the coolness of the situation. Along with Zé Pedro came the brand’s CEO and Founder Ricardo Pessoa, both armed with a couple of small but still intimidating cameras.
I wasn’t sure if we were supposed to take the food on the jeep, or if we were to only do a photoshoot inside, so I decided to make a simple soup and a couple of desserts, one a bit fancier than the other, both quite experimental/improvised, everything very seasonal.
The task at hands was to cook something that resonated with my style of cooking but also with their brand image, good enough to eat and pretty enough to take photos, while keeping an interesting conversation with two persons I’ve never met before AND trying to (barely) look good - myself and the kitchen - for the gazillion photos they were taking.
I failed miserably on the quantity of food and my hair looked messy after the cooking session but everything else went kind of well. At the end of the day I think they left hungry but happy.
It was a delight to get to know and chat with both Zé Pedro and Ricardo. The two have very distinct personalities and life paths, they love what they do and for me that’s the greatest inspiration. They put a great deal of attention in all sorts of details, being the jeeps they restore or the pictures they take of them, carefully constructing the right setting, to evoke the right feeling.
That feeling you are probably feeling right now, the one where you can picture yourself leaving all the business of your life, get inside this Land Rover and take the Freedom road towards Summerland.
And if by any chance you decide to take action on your feeling, I hope you have the time to make and pack a thermos of the soup we had on this day.
Celeriac and Chestnut soup
150g chestnuts, previously boiled or roasted and peeled
250g celeriac, peeled and roughly diced
2-3 cups of water or homemade vegetable stock
1 small piece of Ceylon cinnamon
Salt and pepper to taste
Place all the ingredients into a medium size pan, bring to the boil and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the chestnuts and celeriac are very soft. Remove the cinnamon piece and process the soup until smooth. I like to use the smoothie’s blender for this but a hand blender will work as well. Return the soup to the pan and re-heat without boiling.
A knob of ghee or butter
A handful of mushrooms (Shiitake and Portobello are my favorites)
1 or 2 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
Salt to taste
Freshly grated orange zest
2 slices of sourdough bread
Melt the ghee on a grilling pan and add the mushrooms and sage. Fry for a couple of minutes, season with salt and set aside. Place the bread slices on the pan and grill for a few minutes on each side. In the meantime, pour the soup in bowls, place a spoonful of mushrooms on top and finish with the orange zest. Serve immediately with a slice of grilled bread.
Head over to Cool & Vintage’s Journal for more about this day.