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segunda-feira, 18 de setembro de 2017

Filet Mignon with Mushrooms and Madeira

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Note: Makes 4 servings

Ingredients
·         3 tablespoons butter
·         2 tablespoons olive oil
·         12 ounces button mushrooms, thinly sliced
·         1/2 cup minced shallots (about 3)
·         4 garlic cloves, minced
·         1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
·         4 5-ounce filet mignon steaks (each about 3/4 inch thick)
·         1/2 cup Madeira
·         1 1/2 cups canned beef broth
·         1/2 cup whipping cream

Preparation
1.    Melt 2 tablespoons butter with 1 tablespoon oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Add 1/4 cup shallots and half of garlic and sauté until shallots are soft, about 3 minutes. Stir in thyme; season with salt and pepper. Transfer mushroom mixture to medium bowl.

2.    Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon oil in same skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle steaks with salt and pepper. Add to skillet and cook to desired doneness, about 3 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer steaks to plate. Add remaining 1/4 cup shallots and garlic to same skillet. Sauté 2 minutes. Add Madeira and boil until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add broth and boil until mixture is reduced to 2/3 cup, about 6 minutes. Add cream and boil until sauce thickens slightly, about 2 minutes. Stir in mushroom mixture. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Return steaks to skillet and cook until heated through, about 1 minute. Transfer to plates. Spoon sauce over and serve.

The Ukulele (Courtesy: Sandor Nagyszalanczy)

acoustic, background, beach
The author of the article The Birth of the Ukele is an avid ukulele collector and woodworking expert residing in Santa Cruz, California. The following excerpt  includes a brief account of the birth and maturity of the Ukelele.

“When did the Hawaiians invent the ukulele?” a friend of mine asked as I was giving her a tour of my collection of 430-plus vintage ukes.
The belief that Hawaii lays sole claim to the ukulele—the instrument that would seem to have grown up over centuries in relative obscurity among the descendants of the Polynesians—is a widely held misconception, and one that I’ve often been obliged to dispel. In fact, I informed her, the earliest ukes only date back to the mid-1880s. Then, pausing for effect, I added: “And they weren’t invented by the Hawaiians.” Looking like a six year old who has learned that Santa Claus doesn’t exist, my confused friend furrowed her brow and considered the ukuleles hanging on my wall anew. True, the actual history of the ukulele begins on an island, but not one in the Hawaiian chain, nor one in the Pacific Ocean, for that matter. Madeira, a small mountainous speck of land in the Atlantic southeast of Portugal, about a 350-mile swim from the coast of North Africa, is the actual birthplace of the beloved uke.
Two centuries ago, ... visitors were often entertained by music played in the streets of Funchal, the island’s bustling port city. Because there were no encased windows on the houses in this hot climate, it must have been difficult to not hear strains of music, both day and night. Local musicians strummed waltzes, mazurkas, and folk tunes on the Spanish guitar and a small, guitar-like, four-string instrument called the machête ... , also known as the braguinha or the “machéte de Braga” after the city in northern Portugal where the instrument originated. Unfortunately, by the mid 1800s, ... poverty, famine, and a series of natural disasters that led to the collapse of the wine industry made the island a better place to escape from than to. Scores of unemployed Madeirans sought to leave their overcrowded homeland and launch a new life elsewhere. It just so happened that as things were going wrong in Madeira, life was flourishing half a world away, in the Sandwich Islands - as the Hawaiian Islands were commonly known then - where the sugar industry was booming. ... Among the more than 25,000 Madeirans who came to Hawaii in the late 1800s, there were three woodworkers from Funchal: 40-year-old Manuel Nunes, 37-year-old Augusto Dias, and 28-year-old Jose do Espirito Santo. Joined by their families, the men packed aboard the 220-foot-long British clipper ship SS Ravenscrag, and embarked on the arduous four-month-long, 12,000 mile ocean journey to Oahu. Little did they know that this new adventure would not only bring them prosperity, but would lead to the creation of a new instrument.
The poor, sea-weary immigrants finally arrived in Honolulu Harbor on a quiet Saturday in August of 1879. ... Just a couple of weeks after (their) arrival, the following item ran in the Hawaiian Gazette on September 3, 1879: “…Madeira Islanders recently arrived here have been delighting the people with nightly street concerts. The musicians are fine performers on their strange instruments, which are a kind of cross between a guitar and a banjo, but which produce very sweet music in the hands of the Portuguese minstrels.”... Dias set up his own small woodworking shop in 1884. ... He made not only furniture, but also musical instruments.... Within a year, Nunes had opened his own shop just three blocks away. ... Santo soon followed suit, opening his shop just a few doors down from Nunes. ... Despite their lack of formal lutherie training, it’s clear from the quality of the instruments they built that these Madeirans knew what they were doing. ... All three woodworkers built machêtes that looked a lot like ukuleles, and Santo advertised that he could “make guitars of all sizes.” Nunes claimed that he had invented the ukulele, boldly announcing this in newspaper ads and on his instrument labels. ... Whatever part Nunes or Dias or Santo may have had on the creation of the uke, it’s most likely that the first true ukuleles were hybrid instruments: a mash up of the machête and another smallish Portuguese instrument, the five-string rajão. The petite size and body outline of the machête, as well as its 17-fret fingerboard provided the basis for the ukuleles’ overall shape and configuration. ... Another important element that distinguishes Hawaiian ukuleles from their Portuguese brethren is the material they’re made from. Machétes and rajãos are typically built with spruce tops and bodies made of juniper and other light woods. Virtually all early ukuleles were made entirely from koa, a golden honey-brown wood prized by the Hawaiians and traditionally used for furniture and all manner of quality goods. Ukuleles, such as the one made by Jose do Espirito Santo, were, by and large, crafted from highly figured koa, and often had the same kinds of ornate decorations found on machêtes.

Hawaii actually had the word “ukulele” before they had the instrument. An 1865 dictionary defined the word as “a cat flea,” a pest that had found its way to the islands decades earlier. ... Whatever the exact etymology of the word, the appeal for the instrument spread quickly, thanks, in part, to one of its earliest champions: David Kalakaua, Hawaii’s last king. Kalakaua, his Queen Emma, and the future queen Lili’uokalani (who composed “Aloha Oe,” that most sacred of Hawaiian songs) were all accomplished musicians and patrons of the arts. Their support and promotion of the ukulele encouraged other Hawaiians to take up the instrument and develop their own music and styles.


By 1900, Santo had closed his shop, but continued to work at home for a few more years before he died. Dias lost his shop in a devastating fire that destroyed much of Honolulu’s Chinatown that same year. Nunes, the most prolific luthier of the three, continued building instruments for many years. He taught the art of ukulele making to numerous craftsmen, including his son Leonardo, who ran the Nunes factory in Los Angeles until 1930. Another of Manuel’s apprentices, Samuel Kamaka, started his own one-man shop in 1916. Now, nearly 100 years later, the Kamaka Ukulele and Guitar Works on South Street in Honolulu carries on the legacy of three Portuguese emigrants who forever changed Hawaiian music and gave the world the gift of the “jumping flea.”

Ponta do Pargo Lighthouse

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Opened in 1922, the lighthouse is situated on the westernmost tip of the island, a cliff rising 290 metres above sea level.

Erected at Ponta da Vigia, 290 metres above sea level, the Ponta do Pargo lighthouse was first lit on 5th June, 1922.
Dominating the top of the cliff, the tower is 14 metres high and its light is at an elevation of 312 metres above sea level.
The lighthouse received electricity in 1989 and ten years later, in 1999, the regional government declared it as having local cultural value in the region.
A small museum centre was created in 2001 where a range of articles relating to Madeira’s lighthouses are on exhibition, from photographs to documentation; this museum gathers in one place the story of these monuments that are so important in the history of the islands.

Madeira Laurel

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Laurus novocanariensis is an evergreen large shrub or tree with aromatic, shiny dark-green foliage belonging to Laurus genus of evergreen trees, of the Laurel family Lauraceae. The genus includes three species, whose diagnostic key characters often overlap. Under favorable conditions it is an impressive tree that stands between 3 to 20 metres. It grows from rich soils in moist spots in subtropical climate zones with high air-humidity such as the Canary Islands and Madeira.
The laurel is dioecious (unisexual), with male and female flowers on separate plants. Each flower is fragrant creamy white, about 1 cm in diameter, and are born in pairs beside a leaf.
It can be distinguished by its lanceolate leaves. The fruits are 1-1.5 cm, and become black when ripe. It is highly branched, with a rather dense canopy, trunk and green and gray branches, and brown buds.
It has fragrant creamy white flowers. It flowers from November to April. The fruit is a berry olive-like seed.

The fixed oil extracted from the Laurus fruit is used in local traditional medicine for a wide variety of health complaints.

Madeiran Chaffinch

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The Madeiran chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs maderensis) is a small passerine bird in the finch family Fringillidae. It is a subspecies of the common chaffinch that is endemic to the Portuguese island of Madeira, part of Macaronesia in the North Atlantic Ocean. It is locally known as the tentilhão.

Description

The male is more brightly coloured than the female. It has a pinkish breast, bluish-grey cap and greenish-brown back. The female's colouring is more subdued with a cream breast and brownish back, but both sexes have prominent white wing-bars and tail-sides. The length is 14.5–16 cm (5.7–6.3 in).

 

Breeding

The Madeiran chaffinch nests between April and July. The female builds a cup-shaped nest lined with feathers in which she lays a clutch of four or five eggs and which she alone incubates for 12–15 days before they hatch. The male helps to feed the chicks.

 

Behavior

A typical bird for picnic tables in forestry areas in Madeira where it is normally tame. Its flight is direct, quite quick and undulating. During the flight it momentarily glides with wings closed.

 

Habitat

This endemic subspecies of the European Chaffinch is only found in Madeira island, at rather high altitude, being absent from the other islands in the archipelago.
Madeiran Chaffinch is found mainly in woodlands, both indigenous and introduced forests. In the winter it is also found in cultivated areas, near rural housing.

Distinction from similar species

This passerine is very distinct from other with only the female Brambling having some similarity with the female Chaffinch though the first one has an all dark tail and less white on the wings.
Wingspan: 25 - 28 cm (Hume, 2002)

Total length: 14.5 cm (Beaman & Madge, 2011)

Weight: 19 - 23 g (Hume, 2002)

Seasonality in Madeira: All year

Diet: Takes seeds, shoots and berries from trees but also some caterpillar and other insects from foliage.

Curiosities
There are five endemic subspecies of Common Chaffinch in Macaronesia: one in Madeira Fringilla coelebs maderensis, one in the Azores Fringilla coelebs morelettis and three on the Canary Islands Fringilla coelebs canariensisFringilla coelebs palmae and Fringilla coelebs ombriosa. In the Canaries archipelago there is also an endemic species: Blue Chaffinch Fringilla teydea.

Status

Madeira local status by Romano et al, 2010: Very Common breeding bird
Madeira local status by Zino et al, 1995: Very Common breeding bird
Conservation status by the IUCN Red List Categories, 2013: Least Concern ver 3.1

Name of this species in other languages


Portuguese: Tentilhão
German: Buchfink-maderensis
Dutch: Vink
Swedish: Bofink
Danish: Bogfinke
Finish: Peippo
Norwegian: Bokfink
Spanish: Pinzón de Madera
French: Pinson des arbres de Madère
Italian: Fringuello comune
Polish: Zięba
Slovak: Pinka madeirská
Czech: Pěnkava obecná

Prince Albert II of Monaco

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As a member of the royal family Prince Albert II of Monaco inevitably faces his fare share of stuffy engagements and formal meetings, but on September 5th 2017 the prince found the opportunity to enjoy a fun-filled three-day visit to Madeira. During his stay he joined the President of Funchal  Miguel Albuquerque for a tour of the island, was treated to a cable-car ride as well as a trip on a traditional basket sledge. 
Albert Alexandre Louis Pierre Grimaldi, better known as Prince Albert II of Monaco, was born 14 March 1958. He is the reigning monarch of the Principality of Monaco and head of the princely house of Grimaldi. He is the son of Prince Rainier III and the American actress Grace Kelly. Prince Albert's sisters are Caroline, Princess of Hanover, and Princess Stéphanie. In July 2011, Prince Albert married Charlene Wittstock.
Prince Albert II is one of the wealthiest royals in the world, with assets valued at more than $1 billion, which include land in Monaco and France. While Prince Albert's real estate does not include the Prince's Palace of Monaco, it does include holdings in the Société des bains de mer de Monaco, which operates Monaco's casino and other entertainment properties in the principality.
Albert was born in the Prince's Palace of Monaco. His godmother was the Spanish queen Victoria Eugenia of Spain, and his godfather was Prince Louis of Polignac.
He graduated in 1981 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science. He speaks French, English, German, and Italian.
Albert has been a member of the International Olympic Committee since 1985 and holds a judo black belt. He is the Vice-Chairman of the Princess Grace Foundation-USA, an American charity founded in 1982, after his mother's death, which supports emerging artists in theatre, dance and film, as Princess Grace did in her lifetime.
On 6 April 2005, Rainier III died and Albert succeeded him as Albert II.
In 2006, Prince Albert created the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, which continues the Principality of Monaco's commitment by supporting sustainable and ethical projects around the world. The foundation focus on three main challenges: climate change and renewable energy development; combating the loss of biodiversity; and water management (improving universal access to clean water). Albert is also a global adviser to Orphans International

Madeira Aquarium

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Diving in an aquarium is a special and exclusive activity practised in just a few places in the world. Madeira happens to be one of them!
What makes this activity so privileged is that, in order to enable this activity, aquariums must have special conditions particularly in terms of water filtration and water temperatures.
The Aquarium of Madeira also distinguishes itself by having the ocean on its doorstep, so the aquarium can be filled with salted sea water as well as the natural pools of Porto Moniz.
The Madeira Aquarium was opened in 2005, in Fort St. John the Baptist, in Porto Moniz.
The fort was built between 1730-1752 to protect the North Coast from the attacks of pirates. Over time, it deteriorated in ruins. In 1998, the works of restoration of the fort began.
Currently the Madeira Aquarium has 12 tanks with about 70 species and many of them are endemic.
The main objective is to recreate the characteristic habitats of Madeira (next to each tank there is a board with information about the resident species), protect marine species and raise awareness amongst locals and tourists.

The most impressive tank contains about 500,000 litres of salt water.