This week in SBS Food’s Blog Appétit – our round up of food blogs worth bookmarking – we bring you Pratos & Travessas.
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1 May 2014 - 2:56 PM  UPDATED 2 Sep 2014 - 2:21 PM

Portuguese photographer and stylist Monica Pinto could add writer to her title. She captures the heart and soul of northern Portugal, where she lives with her husband and two children, with striking images of the nearby cities and natural surrounds, and stirring words, which she laboriously composes in English, as well as native Portuguese. Her recipes are equally evocative of place, often inspired by national classics and always filled with local, seasonal ingredients. She is clearly enamoured with her homeland. Pinto, a former artist, launched food blog Pratos & Travessas in 2008 as an outlet for her creative juices. She has since had a restaurant of the same name and her photographic work has featured in numerous international food publications. Here, she encapsulates the colours, smells and tastes of autumn in her nook of the Iberian Peninsula.

“With the arrival of autumn always comes the joy of welcoming the new season’s bounty. Apples and cabbages start to flood into my kitchen from my mother-in-law's small farm and, from trips to Gerês, a nearby national park, I bring home beautiful honey, earthy chestnuts and delicious homemade smoked meats from the old smokehouses of the highland farmers. At this time of year, I often crave comforting meals filled with warmth and tradition. It’s when I turn to old Portuguese favourites, following recipes from family and friends or giving them a new twist. For me, autumn is all about cooking meals packed with seasonal ingredients and lovely flavours. And, of course, a cosy, roaring fire and a glass of full-bodied red to keep me inspired.” Monica Pinto

I started my blog to...

“Share my love for cooking and as a way to expand my creativity. The demands of motherhood kept me away from the long hours I used to spend painting and drawing, so I turned to the beauty of food as a way to replace that, which eventually led me to photography and styling.”

 

The must-cook recipe on my website is...

Chocolate mousse cake with roasted pears – it’s just amazing.”

 

I can’t wait to go back to...

“A lovely restaurant on the way to Terras de Bouro – Gerês called O Bem Cozinhado (meaning “well cooked”) to eat bacalhau com migas (roasted salt cod with crumbs of cornbread, olive oil, garlic and coriander). The food here is absolutely delicious – traditional Portuguese, but with a twist – and the staff makes you feel really pampered.”

 

My current food obsession is...

“Olive oil. Portugal produces some of the best olive oils in the world and I´m always searching for new aromas and tastes. I'm a woman on a mission!”

 

Eating...

“Roasted pork loin with mint and rosemary takes me back to my childhood and to the warmth of my grandmother's kitchen.”

 

Nugget of cooking wisdom...

“Learning how to buy good, fresh ingredients is the first step to becoming a great cook. After that comes everything else.”

 

I learnt to cook from...

“My mother, my maternal grandmother and my aunt.”

 

Friends always ask me to cook...

“My pork chops with oregano, sumac, garlic and paprika paste. Despite the varied food tastes of my friends, they all agree that this one is a winner.”

 

The one thing I can’t cook is...

“Liver. It is the only ingredient I absolutely hate.”

 

If I ever met...

“François Vatel [a French chef of the 1600s], I would ask him if he would make me his trainee. Although he is not a personality our times, he is someone I truly admire.”

 

I always have...

“Olive oil, garlic, rice and pasta in my pantry; butter, cheese and eggs in my fridge; and ice-cream, homemade stock and cookie dough logs in my freezer. And a few bottles of full-bodied red to boot.”

 

My favourite biscuit to dunk in a cup of tea are...

“My Hungarian cookies. So good!”

 

My most sauce-splattered cookbook is...

Cozinha Tradicional Portuguesa (Portuguese Traditional Kitchen) by Maria de Lourdes Modesto, the bible of traditional Portuguese cooking; Amaretto, Apple Cake and Artichokes by Anna Del Conte; and Jamie's Italy by Jamie Oliver. These are the three sources of inspiration to which I always return.”

 

Top picks from Pratos & Travessas:

 

1. Honey, orange and hazelnut cake

 

2. Spiced persimmon jam