Casa da Horta
Hidden down a narrow street off the Ribeira is Casa da Horta, a cultural association and restaurant which champions the principles of ethical consumption, recycling and community action. We stopped by to find out more about the positive work they’re doing.
The menu at Casa da Horta is almost entirely vegan- the only exception being their vegetarian francesinha, for which they use a cheese produced in Portugal, in Trás-os-Montes. Aware of the environmental implications of transporting food thousands of miles across the globe, the restaurant sources all of its fresh produce from local farmers, which also means that the menu changes in accordance with the seasons.
What appears on the menu is also dictated by whatever needs using up in the kitchen. The leftovers from each meal time are used for the next, so that no food is wasted. That means that the lentil curry that doesn’t get eaten today, is transformed into tasty lentil burgers tomorrow.
So as well as being delicious, the menu is an education in ethical consumption, and this is an important objective for the association. They strive to raise awareness about the principles on which they’re founded. At the back of their cosy place there’s a library dedicated to alternative lifestyles; activism, environmentalism, and community building. With the support of the local council, they also carried out a project at a school in Gaia to encourage students to reflect on alimentation and the impact of food on the body.
At the heart of all of this is the desire to engage with people, to spread these values and to create a community. Their vibrant space, filled with the work of local artists, and furnishings made from recycled materials, is a hub for bringing people together around these common principles. There’s a fair trade shop, also selling handmade goods, and a whole host of concerts, jam sessions, film nights and language exchanges each week.