‘I’ve always loved this building, from way back when I used to bring olives here.’ Twelve years after arriving in Monsaraz Gil bought the lagar, or olive oil factory, in Telheiro. From loving the place, to loving to eat here was two years of building work and a real mouthwatering project.
So began the life of Sem-Fim (meaning ‘without end’), a restaurant where the artist, Gil Kalisvaart, and restorer, Arlinda Ribeiro, reproduce the tastes of the region and recreate the flavours of the world. A space of industrial archeology where life itself has been preserved: who says that olive oil isn’t alchemy?
Even the olive oil presses reveal themselves as picture frames, one freshly finished while the next waits empty, until others come to paint them in, so that diners can glance over to find their senses aroused right up to the last mouthful.
Why not make a different journey to a place distant and yet so close, the Alentejo, our well-guarded legend. Around the area of Evora early mankind gathered in one of the largest concentrations of megalithic civilization. They left behind on the plain the eternal marks of life and death.
One is constantly experiencing the ‘magic’ of the place, whether in the calming tranquility, or through the songs of men arriving for a snack or by the susurration of a cicada.
But time waits for no man and a change was due. After eight years of work divided between art and gastronomy, the baton has now passed to the hands of Tiago and Gloria, who wanted to continue with Sem Fim.
Their paramount desire was not to leave this land without people. They are young and respect the place because they grew up here and want to see it rejuvenated. They know that the land is precious and continuity is invaluable.
And now their children have arrived, Lua and Gil Jan, who grew up amongst the olive presses and pots and pans, the artworks of their grandfather, their mother’s insects, Arlinda’s creations, fun and games with their cousins, the woven blankets of their grandmother, their aunt’s garden and the local farmhouses which grew herbs to give aroma to the cooking and delicacies of all the ages. Good things without end.