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SHELLFISH AND ALFAMA WITH RICHIE HAWTIN AND ALI DEMIREL, Lisbon

The day following our arrival in Lisbon Richie Hawtin and Ali Demirel fly in from Berlin for the night to meet with Greg Hermanovic and Markus Heckmann to discuss previous and future collaborations. Lively conversation though jet-lag in effect. Heckmann demonstrates TD's evolution and development since the last Plastikman collaboration in 2004.

 

The Toronto crew is starving - our last 'meal' eaten more than 24 hours ago somewhere above the Atlantic. It's 6pm, not even close to dinner time in Lisbon but Rich makes a call to a local promoter who endorses a 'real portuguese' seafood resto - real as in authentically portuguese, family run, locally endorsed, fresh etc etc.

For the next couple of hours we sample every type of crustacean and shellfish in the place and possibly in existence including alien looking black barnacles that are a rare delicacy due to a harvesting process that's extremely dangerous - divers having to negotiate crashing waves and fierce undertow to pry these off of jagged treacherous rocks at some undisclosed location on the Portuguese coastline to the North. Richie loves the seafood!

Dinner and the conversation are... lively, enjoyable, and... substantial. After a couple of hours of steady consumption we decide a long walk is a really good and necessary idea and head towards Alfama, the kasba-like neighbourhood that is the oldest part of Lisbon and quite literally built on top of a rock (having for the most part survived the quake of 1755 buttressed by the rock its built on). Houses of Moorish design many of them clad in colourful, geometrically patterned tiles or azulejos (derived from the Arabic for 'small stones') spill down from the walls of the Castle of Saint Jorge.

We head up up up along a maze of narrow alley-like cobbled streets and meandering stairs with the intention of making it to the top for a view of the setting sun over the city. The area is mostly residential and like most of Lisbon the smell of fresh air-drying laundry is pervasive. Tucked between the houses are tiny cafes and bars, some quite well known for the traditional Portuguese Fado music.

Reaching the summit as the sun sinks beneath the horizon we find the castle gates slamming shut for the night but the view is spectacular and so we sit on the old walls looking out over the city before meandering back down the hill.

We stop at one of the cafes for water and some local brew and continue the earlier discussions. Ali pulls out his laptop and shows some of their latest work and ideas. The cafe is full of locals and young children. It doesn't feel like Sunday night. What appears to be the Portuguese version of American Idol blasts from an old TV. A caged bird chimes in and out of the general noise.

Richie and Ali have a 7am flight back to Berlin in the morning and the Toronto crew much work to do in preparation for the upcoming Raster marathon. We head back to the hotel full of shellfish and good feelings in agreement that this has been a very good day.