Koktails with KOKET at Champ’s da Baixa
Elegance and comfort, divine architectural designs courtesy of Central Architectos’ talented Pedro Lima, and a nature-inspired tapestry call for a unique and tantalizing bistro experience at Champ’s da Baixa. A hidden in plain sight gem located in Porto, Portugal, Champ’s da Baixa allows for the discretion of secrecy, but the boldness of confessed love. Created for goddesses the atmosphere at Champ’s da Baixa offers a perfect setting for four girlfriends with expensive taste out for their evening buzz.
Erika, CiCi, and Melanie converse over exquisite hor d’oeuvres and top-shelf champagne. Tiny bubbles tickle the bottom of CiCi’s nose as she quickly downs the rest of her first glass of “bubbly”. “Aaah-chuu” CiCi sneezes. Erika looks in CiCi’s direction and shakes her head. “Please sip sweetie, this is champagne not shots of tequila.” Melanie chuckles and then composes herself quickly. “Where is Brandy?” inquires Melanie. “I have no idea, I told her to meet us at 6:30. You know she’s always late.” Erika states as if she was reprimanding Melanie.
And then as if almost on cue there appeared sounds of tiny metal bracelets clinking and shaking together in a simultaneous rhythm. Next emerged shiny black and white stilettos, skin tan hosiery, a knee-length waist hugging white dress and large black rim YSL shades. “Heeeeeeey lovely ladies, did you miss me!?” exclaims Brandy before taking her seat. The women exchange glances with each other forcing a smile. “Hey Brandy,” the women mumble in annoyed unison. Brandy removes her glasses and cases the room. “Excellent taste Erika, this place is incredible, yay for Champ’s da Baixa!
“Thank you, but Brandy please tell me why you are never on time?” inquires Erika. “I apologize sweetie, it’s just that I passed this fabulous purse and ensemble on the way here and I had to stop.”
“Well, I apologize too,” adds CiCi. “For what CiCi?” inquires Brandy. “For finishing your glass of champagne.”
Melanie and Erika burst into laughter. “Well, it was starting to get warm, I was doing you a favor,” CiCi continues.
Brandy playfully nudges CiCi on the arm. “Starting to get warm, really CiCi?” Melanie covers her mouth to contain her laughter.
“Ok ladies, now that we are all here, I have something to share. I had an epiphany last month after a co-worker introduced me to a revolutionary way of shopping. This will change our lives and the environment, and that goes for you too Brandy,” declares Erika. Brandy perks up in her seat. “Ooo do tell, I’m listening honey.” “Well, it’s luxurious shopping on the next level, lower costs, and eco-friendly. I’ve done it twice already. It’s a vintage and pre-owned luxury site called Vestiaire Collective.”
Brandy folds her arms and sits back in her chair. “So, what’s the catch?” “No catch. This is the opportunity for you to find fabulous vintage collectible items that are available second-hand and….” Brandy interrupts speaking in first person. “Brandy doesn’t do second-hand sweetie.” “Brandy, you really should…..”Melanie begins. CiCi interrupts by gracefully tapping Melanie on the arm. “Brandy, you remember that maroon and beige handbag that you saw a couple of weeks ago that you loved sooo much.” Brandy gathered her thoughts. “Yes, I remember.” “It was second-hand,” CiCi notes.
Brandy looking confused and amazed at the same time mumbles to herself, “Have I lost my touch.” Erika shakes her head in affirmation. “See Brandy, this really is a great thing. A win-win. Your purchase is environmentally friendly, helping to reduce waste while sporting the most fabulous vintage items ever.” Brandy hesitates. “Well….I guess it wouldn’t hurt to try.”
Erika raises her glass. “Let’s toast to the green life.” The women raise their glasses in unison and lightly tap each other’s glass.
“Hmmm…vintage shopping huh…well, I guess I’m just going to have to check out this Vestiaire Collective”, Brandy mumbles to herself while checking her phone.
And then it happened. Time stood still. Brandy started hearing beautiful island music; it was the beating of bongos with sultry jazz tones that seemed to mimic the rhythm of her heart. A soft breeze blew through her hair and a light sprinkle mist graced her face from the not too distant waves of the ocean.
“Am I in paradise?” whispers Brandy. Confused but intrigued, she takes a step forward realizing her feet are partially submerged in warm grains of sand. After fiddling her toes, she proceeds towards the pristine body of water but not before falling face-first into the warm sand. Coughing and spitting out the sand that had made its way into her mouth, Brandy shouts “Ugh, how the hell did I end up on the ground?” She then began to hear the faint sound of a light beeping noise. “What is that?” “Oh my God, don’t let this be how I die…please don’t tell me I triggered some sort of land mine!” Brandy panics. In a calm but shaky voice, she tries to reassure herself that she’s ok. “Brandy, that may not be the most reasonable explanation for this.” Then she realizes some sort of a strap is looped around her right ankle. She sits all the way up and brings her knees towards her face. She notices that the beeping has become louder. She pulls the strap off her ankle and vigorously dusts the sand that has accumulated all around this foreign object.
As the sand falls back to the earth, it is as if the strap was metamorphosizing before her very eyes. A shiny amethyst hue appears causing Brandy to gasp in amazement. She needs to see more. She tugs and tugs on the strap but is met with major resistance. So she finally stands up, firmly digging her heels into the sand and shifting her body weight to attempt to free this beautiful mystery. She drops to her knees and attempts to dig out the prize with her hands but finds a letter instead. It reads, “I don’t know what I’ll do without you. You have always been by my side. You’re like my second companion, always making me smile. But being ever so stubborn I must leave you behind.” Love Victoria.
“Sucks for her, that man never got the letter” Brandy scoffs as she proceeds to dig and pull again only becoming more restless and aggravated. “Please mother earth grant me this wish and I promise I’ll practice green living.” Brandy gives one final attempt standing and pulling until the backside of her body is a 30-degree angle from the ground. Suddenly Brandy begins flying backward at a high speed with miscellaneous items flying in the air and gravity placing them around her body like she has made a sand angel, including a tiny alarm that was now silenced. I did it! Brandy exclaims. She had managed to free the hidden treasure but now didn’t know where it was. Frantically she turns her head left to right and right to left and there it was! The sun found it before she did. Sitting 15 yards away under the sun rays is the most breathtaking thing she has ever seen. A bright amethyst handbag with a lengthy checker design embroidered in golden lace.
Brandy was stunned. In all her years of luxurious shopping, she had never come across such a gem as this. “Ok honey, come to mama”….“you’re almost too pretty to use!” Brandy flips the bag upside down shaking out the remaining sand inside the bag, and then notices a name sewn into the bottom. “V Romano?” “Who is V. Romano……..?”
“Brandy!” “Brandy!” “Brannnn-dddyyyy!” exclaims Cici. Dazed and confused Brandy slowly turns toward Cici. “Huh?” The table erupts with laughter. “You’ve been talking to yourself ever since you looked up that website.” Erika teases. “Yea we thought we were gonna have to pinch you” adds Melanie. “Yes, no more alcohol for Ms. Brandy,” says Cici while raising her glass. “Yea, maybe so….cause I’m not sure what just happened…it was like a daydream but……but….” Brandy tries to collect her thoughts.
“Look Brandy just tell us what you found that has you so mesmerized,” Erika impatiently interrupts.“Well, take a look for yourselves,” states Brandy. She turns her phone to face them and for the first time all night complete silence. The women gazed upon the amethyst bag as if it was luring them all to come closer.
“Who’s the designer?” “I need to know the designer,” Melanie pesters. “Right,” Erika and Cici affirm in unison. “Well, the website says it’s from the Marco Cancio collection,” says Brandy. “Hmm, never heard of that collection?” “What about you guys?” asks Melanie. “Beats me,” adds Erika.
Cici begins feverishly searching through her phone. “Got it!” “Marco Cancio has the most innovative collection of handbags Calabria, Italy has ever seen! It says he dedicated his last designs to his late wife by stitching her name in the bottom of his bags.” “She was supposed to design his last line of bags, but tragically fell ill vacationing on Pete’s Island.”
Brandy hesitates then begins slowly speaking while keeping her eyes glued to the picture of the bag. “What was her name”? “Umm, it says his last collection was all stitched with the name V. Romano, but her name was Victoria,” replies Cici. Brandy’s face turns a pale ghostly color. “Brandy, are you ok?” asks Melanie.
Nervously fidgeting her hands, Brandy slowly gets up from the table. “He-e-e-y guys….I’m-a…I’m-a have to catch up with you later. She throws a fifty on the table and quickly heads out the door.
“Ok guys, you know that crazy girl is your friend, right?” “I suggest you get her some help,” Cici says jokingly.
“So Cici, how did his wife become ill? Melanie inquires. “Well, it doesn’t say. But it does mention that she was obsessed with her bags and would have severe panic attacks when she was separated from them.”
Melanie stands up. “Well on that note—we should probably head out because I know all of us have to be up early tomorrow.”
“You are right.”…..“Oh wait, it looks like Brandy left something behind again.” says Erika visibly annoyed. She picks up a slightly dusty double folded piece of paper from Brandy’s chair. She opens it. “What is it?” asks Melanie. “I don’t know,” Erika says slowly and confused. “Well, what does it say?” Cici persists.
“It says……..“I don’t know what I’ll do without you. You have always been by my side. You’re like my second companion, always making me smile. But being ever so stubborn I must leave you behind.” Love Victoria
The three friends all stopped and stared at each other for a whole minute and then scurried out the front door like three alley cats.
Words by Jada Ledbetter
Images of Champ’s da Baixa, Courtesy of Central Architectos
Article Originally Appeared in Love Happens Volume 4
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