Craft-hunting in the Algarve, how photographer Diana Bartlett stuffs a carry-on, and a new brand that’s highlighting authentic flavors of the Philippines
JUST BACK FROM…The Algarve, Portugal
When we think of the Algarve, Portugal’s southernmost region, our mind often goes straight to the iconic beaches of Lagos. But where my partner and I return again and again is the less-explored area between Fuzeta and Tavira. With its orchards, vineyards and sleepy fishing towns, it’s a uniquely wonderful combination of northern California and the Mediterranean coast.
This unpretentious area is perfect for wandering through tiny villages, enjoying calm sea views and taking in the salty breeze of the Atlantic Ocean. Just 15 minutes from the coast, you will find beautiful wine country as well as rolling hills of orange groves, figs, carobs and pomegranates that you can pick off the trees, if you time it well.
Our favorite place to stay is Casa Modesta. Run by Carlos and Nuno, it’s set in the perfect spot just minutes from the Ria Formosa Natural Park. You can grab a bike from the hotel and take an easy ride to the beach. There you can enjoy one of the many easy-going restaurants like Os Fiahlo or Casa Corvo. Casa Velha is another must-visit for the cataplana and almond tart with carob and fig.
Food is front and center at Casa Modesta. Don’t miss the chance to have a dinner prepared by Nuno, who is also a chef and continues to impress with his attention to locally sourced, creatively reimagined Algarvian dishes. They have a way of infusing time-honored family recipes with their own flair, while keeping the dishes simple and not overdone. The breakfasts at Casa are also worth mentioning as you often will find flavors, fruits and recipes you have not tried before. One standout is their orange-infused polenta with cinnamon and honey.
There’s an honesty to Casa Modesta and the inescapable feel that you have been invited into someone’s home. It is, in fact, a family home at heart, passed down from their grandparents and redesigned by Carlos’ sister. Set alongside the gorgeous national park, it won’t take more than a day to feel reset.
For craft lovers, this region of the Algarve is also a haven. You can buy some beautiful terracotta ceramics at Francisco Eugenio’s atelier just down the road from Casa Modesta. For a special experience, Joao Ministro of Projecto Tasa can take you on an in-depth craft tour to connect directly with up-and-coming artists throughout the area. This is a place to come with your suitcase half full. I always end up leaving with some of the local salt, carob powder, Eugenio’s terracotta ceramics and wicker from Monchique, about an hour away. If you feel ambitious, pick up one of José Leonardo Salvador’s famous wooden scissor chairs, inspired by one of the town’s most recognized symbols. Originally known as the “democratic chair” as it was used by everyone from emperors to peasants, its design is one of the strongest symbols of the Roman presence in the area. Another fave brand working with artists in the Algarve is Origem Comum. They have a small showroom in Lisbon where you can schedule a visit or purchase online.
The Algarve can be sleepy, but when you get off the beaten path it can become a place of incredible discovery and rich culture. These lesser-known paths feel so authentic and interesting. And there’s so much to do, from hiking trails to meandering village streets, mountainous restaurants like Tia Bia to Saturday markets in Olhao.
Annie O. Waterman is the founder of AOW Handmade, which links artisanal producers to global markets. In previous newsletters, Annie has shared her travels through Spain, Normandy, and Northern Portugal with YOLO, and written about the best artisanal shops in Madrid, Paris, and Lisbon.
HOW I PACK…for five weeks on the road in one carry-on
I met photographer Diana Bartlett earlier this summer in Istanbul and we became fast friends. After seeing her in action (traveling to Bodrum together, and later meeting up in Naples)—fresh, unflappable and always chic, even on an early flight—I asked her to share her packing ways. Plus she spends 300 days a year working from the road, and once every two months heads to La Colombe d’Or to decompress for three days. This year, she spent a month in Le Marche photographing her book, L’Altra Gloria, a project that showcases a lesser-known region that she loves for its simplicity and feeling of discovery. —Y.E.
What’s your go-to luggage?
At the end of August, I headed to Italy for work and then fashion month, which means NY, London, Milan and Paris—packing for all in an aluminum Rimowa carry-on in size original, and one Louis Vuitton Keepall that goes on top (in size 60, which is the biggest). It’ll be five weeks on the road, which I’m quite used to, and I always bring an empty foldable duffel for when I pick up things along the way. But really the plan of action is to go with the duffel nearly empty.
How do you approach the basics? Do you plan outfits in advance?
I only travel with basics and (for the most part) implement a tonal and singular color story in sets to save myself from a headache and taking more than five minutes to get dressed. When I’m traveling, I want to enjoy as much as possible instead of thinking about what I’m going to wear. These things make it easy.
Tops: one Saks Potts William shirt, one Saks Potts denim shirt, two custom button downs, two Toteme tank tops and a sweater from Schostal.
Bottoms: one pair of black Levi’s, one pair of Saks Potts jeans, one pair of Tom Ford Gucci white denim, two custom suit pants, one skirt and a pair of biker shorts.
Jackets: One or two Armani blazers (from my mother) and one long leather coat I wear on the plane (also stolen from my mother).
Underwear & socks: five pairs of underwear, two pairs of socks (at this time of year) and I always pack a bathing suit no matter the season.
Dresses and jumpsuits: one dress and one jumpsuit suitable for black tie, one daily dress that can double as a nightgown.
Are you a roller or a folder?
Any other packing tricks or hacks?
When I’m packing bags/boots, I pack them in dust bags and put clothes in the dust bags with them to soak up the negative space. It’s about making every inch count!
What’s your shoe strategy?
A shoe for every occasion and only shoes I reach for on a daily basis.
I’ll bring Hermes riding boots, a pair of vintage cowboy boots, squishable sneakers, one kitten heel suitable for black tie, a pair of Hermes Oran sandals, and Tod’s driving loafers. And I obviously wear the riding boots on the plane.
How do you think about accessories?
Accessories are the sprinkles on top of the basics that don’t make you feel like you’ve been wearing the same thing everyday. I bring a lot of accessories because they're small and packable—typically three bags, five belts and five pairs of sunglasses.
Do you have a great travel hat?
I do! It’s from Toteme.
What’s always in your Dopp kit/toiletry bag?
I’m not fussy about my toiletry bag — it’s whatever French pharmacy face wash comes in travel size, Augustinus Bader cream and my allergy pills. If I’m bringing a little makeup it’s definitely Westman Atelier or Chanel.
On a plane, what essentials does your carry-on bag always contain?
Woods Copenhagen hand sanitizing spray, wipes, Aquaphor, concealer for when I get off the plane if it’s been a sleepless flight, an outfit just in case the Rimowa is too overweight to come on the plane with me and gets lost. And lots and lots of snacks—medjool dates, nuts, chocolate and if there's a Joe and the Juice in the airport, it's their pesto avocado sandwich.
What’s your pharmacy kit?
Allergy pills for the win, Telfast in the morning and Bilaska before bed. I’ll bring Seed probiotics if there’s space and I never travel without cortisone cream! I’m always getting a weird hive from something I’ve eaten/touched. Sunscreen I always buy on site!
Any wisdom on traveling with electronics?
Bring as little as possible, but as much as you’re satisfied with—because I’m a photographer, I have some extra gear. Other than a MacBook, I’ll bring an iPad (which I use for photo editing), a power bank, one Contax camera, one cheap camera and loads of film and batteries. My headphones are the regular ones from Apple and probably have some earwax on them, sorry!
L’Altra Gloria comes out tomorrow, September 29, and for any of you readers in Paris, she’s having an opening from 6-8 at Yvon Lambert Gallery.
Our friend Gino Chua, who was an art director at Condé Nast Traveler with us, just launched Pika Pika, a line of specialty food products inspired by his Filipino heritage. After immigrating to New Jersey with his family at 18, he remembers how impossible it was to track down authentic Filipino flavors—a fusion of Spanish, indigenous, Polynesian, South Asian and Chinese cuisines—which could be found only in small immigrant pockets like Woodside, Queens (aka “Little Manila”). And it’s still a challenge, both in terms of access and perception. “The narrative around Filipino food and even Asian food is that it’s not worth spending too much money on. It’s a takeout mentality. And Filipino food is not even in the conversation when people are like, ‘Let’s have Thai! Let’s order Vietnamese.’ But we’re the third largest Asian American population in the US.”
During Covid, Gino started cooking with his mom, an excellent home cook, and they developed the Coconut Spread, “known as Coco Jam, it’s a flavor profile synonymous with the Philippines.” Made of coconut cream and coconut brown sugar, it’s kind of like a dulce de leche, usually found in Filipino rice cakes and breakfast staples—and totally vegan and natural. “I say it’s like a coconut Nutella,” he adds, which you can use to spread on toast, dolloped on oatmeal, or even to balance out a curry. The Calamansi Marmalade—calamansi is a cross of tangerine lime and grapefruit, tiny and hyper-potent—can be used like other marmalades, as a tangy garnish with grilled foods or charcuterie, or just on toast. “It’s very vibrant, bright, with lots of tropical power,” Gino says.
Pika Pika just landed its first stockists, Southeast in Essex Market, NY, and Hudson Greens and Goods in Napa (you can also order from EatPikaPika). Gino sources his ingredients from the Philippines and is also working with a contract farmer in the South to grow culturally relevant produce not commonly found in the west, such as ube, a purple yam. Plans are also in the works for jackfruit jam and spicy pineapple spread and more—aiming no less to change the narrative on Filipino flavors, one ingredient at a time. Go Gino!
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