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Despite Portuguese restaurants opening their doors throughout London and New York City, and new cookbooks hitting international shelves, theres absolutely no substitute for touching, feeling, and tasting this mouthwatering cuisine. Come taste the savor and smoky aroma of perfectly grilled fish, the spicy and sweetly charred chicken from a bustling churrasqueira, and the rich creamy texture of a pastel de nata. These are the flavors that will revive your senses, and the experiences that will reinvigorate your passion for food, culture, and travel.
During this culinary tour of Portugal, you will comfortably spend your nights in four-star hotels, with double occupancy rooms.
You will meet your group in the seductive port city of Lisbon for a special welcome toast. Indulge in a feast of traditional Portuguese flavors, with peixinhos da horta (the frittered string beans that inspired Japans tempura), bacalhau (cured cod), succulent alcatra (Azorean rump roast) and more, paired with fine wines.
Just outside of Lisbon, your second day begins in the fairy tale town of Sintra, where you will explore the royal kitchens of the 14th century National Palace, with its iconic white cone chimneys that shoot up through the heart of this historic village. Enjoy a behind the scenes visit to a legendary pastry shop, baking Sintras signature cheese and almond cream pastries since 1862. Then, you will be taken to a short drive to one of Sintras seaside towns, where your table is a front seat to the Atlantic. Having savored some of the finest shellfish on the menu, you will visit Colares, complete with winery visit and tasting. In the evening, you will pay homage to one of the most beloved multicultural recipes in Portuguese cuisine: spicy barbecued chicken.
Today, head south to the bucolic rolling plains and cork fields of the Alentejo, to visit a charming farm dedicated to eco farming. Your tasting will include the premium presunto (cured ham made from the Iberian pig), as well as a variety of fragrant olive oils. Prior to a grand feast of the Alentejos signature dishes, inside an old windmill turned tavern, you will enjoy a cultural tour of Evora, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Even though dinner is on your own in Lisbon (suggestions will be provided), your palate will be tantalized with one of the holy grails of Portuguese petiscos (snacks).
After your morning espresso, dive into an exclusive hands-on workshop on cleaning and preparing fish (by one of the most renowned fishmongers in Lisbon) inside a traditional market. After a full fish market experience, your appetite will be rewarded with seafood specialties at one of the hippest spots in Lisbon. Lunch is followed by a historical walking tour of the Alfama - Lisbons Moorish quarter and one of its oldest neighborhoods. To whet your afternoon appetite, bite into a creamy custard called pasteis de Belem, made in the same secret room since 1837. Have dinner in an extravagant Michelin star experience that fuses traditional flavors with exotic influences; a nod to the adventurous spirit of Portuguese explorers.
Coimbra is the principal city of Portugals heartland region: the Centro. The foodie magic starts with pastry performance art at a shop dedicated to baking the 500 years old pastel de Tentugal, a miniature puff log, filled with egg cream. At lunchtime, you will be introduced to the regions prized cuisine, leitao da bairrada, with its crackling skin and tenderized meat, seasoned with a spicy smear of garlic and black pepper paste. After lunch, you will travel to Douro Valley, where the grapes for the iconic Port wine and top Portuguese table wines are harvested. After a visit to the Douro Museum, you will settle into your luxurious hotel, with its fabulous views of the river and valley. Dinner follows with a wine pairing, prepared by an acclaimed winemaker.
This morning, your senses will be vibrantly awakened by the verdant Douro Valley as you tour the vineyards of a renowned port wine estate, led by the notable producer himself. Lunch will be a team effort as you work side by side with locals to prepare one of Portugals most traditional duck dishes. While the food is in the oven, stroll along the Douro River with a portonic cocktail in your hand. Your meal will be enjoyed al fresco, among the vineyards with a view of the river. Before sunset, hop aboard a private boat for a relaxing cruise; an excellent opportunity to nibble on the valleys cornucopia of plump almonds and fragrant figs. Tonight, you will have dinner in a divine grand setting at one of the Douros top restaurants.
You will drive into the heart of Porto, where textured buildings and stunning tiny streets make this ancient city a masterpiece. Your foodie adventures will take you behind the scenes of an artisan cannery, where grandmothers lovingly pack each can of fish by hand to this day. You will savor the freshest catches at one of the most traditional fishing villages in the north. Your tasty travel continues with a tour of the port wine lodges in Vila Nova de Gaia, where you will be indulged with this trades intriguing history, while sipping some of its oldest and finest produced ports. End your evening with cocktails and views of Porto on a rooftop overlooking the Douro River. Dinner is yours to explore, suggestions will be provided.
Today, you will tour the iconic Bolhao Market and its community of traditional vendors. A stones throw from the market, you will visit a neighborhood that will connect the dots between Bolhao Market and the restaurants it supplies. Learn the secrets of soulful caldo verde, a potato and garlic broth topped with toothy kale and rounds of smoky sausage (chourio). Surely you have seen photos of Portos monstrous francesinha. This baby will kick off your sandwich crawl as you tour Portos city center. Your tasty discoveries conclude with an extraordinary farewell dinner at an invitation-only space, inspired by the en-vogue concept of secret supper clubs. Every gastronomic moment will be exclusively designed for you.
Enjoy a cultural tour of Evora and a pastry art performance in Coimbra
Explore the Douro Museum
Hop aboard a private boat for a relaxing cruise
Stroll along the Douro River
Take a historical walking tour of the Alfama and a short drive to one of Sintras seaside towns
Tour of the historic port wine lodges in Vila Nova de Gaia, the iconic Bolhao Market and the vineyards of a renowned port wine estate in Douro Valley
Visit one of the most distinctive wine regions in Portugal, an eco-farm in Alentejo, and a legendary pastry baking shop in Sintra
This holyday will take place in Portugal, visiting Lisbon, Sintra, Colares, Alentejo, Evora, Alfama, Coimbra, Douro Valley, Porto, and Vila Nova de Gaia.
Sitting astride Spain, on the furthest corner of the Iberian peninsula, its easy to make superficial comparisons between the two countries. They both enjoy hot climates, popular tourist destinations, speak Latin-based languages, and have a healthy appetite for leisure, food, and wine. However, with breathtaking coastal cities like Lisbon and Porto, delightful rural aldeias (or villages), and of course, their own cultural traditions, like the melancholy Fado, Portugal is possibly yet more romantic than its neighbor.
There is no better way to experience this than sailing in the Algarve, appreciating the lush and moss covered gardens of Sintra or exploring the Gothic architecture in Viana do Castello. Portugal can boast of an incredibly diverse landscape. You can travel in a single day from lush, green mountains in the north - covered with vines and all varieties of trees -, rocky mountains and spectacular highland views as well as waterfalls in the center, arid dry landscape in the Alentejo region - boasting of wild flowers and cork trees -, to the relaxing beach destination of the Algarve, in the far south.
Lisbon is a city of heights and incredible views, especially made for sunsets. You can climb to very top of the city, to experience breathtaking views from the Bairro Altos Miradouro de Sao Pedro de Alcantara, and Alfamas Portas do Sol. European cities can be daunting with their narrow, windy roads. If youre more of a water dweller, you might prefer an afternoon walking along the rippling waters, to experience the 11-mile long Vasco de Gama bridge followed by a cable car ride near the Vasco de Gama tower, the highest building in Lisbon.
Porto is one of the last undiscovered European cities. This is rapidly changing with an influx of modern architecture, shifting cultural landscape and raising its profile, attracting a new wave of tourists. As a UNESCO heritage site, Porto is an ancient port teeming with stories of tradition, lineage, and heritage. Its monuments are built by famed architects, such as Gustave Eiffel, Nicolau Nasoni, Rem Koolhaas, and Siza Vieira. If youre a Harry Potter fan, Porto was the muse that enticed J.K. Rowling into her internationally acclaimed series, most especially the Lello bookstore, with its windy wooden staircase and sky-high bookshelves.
In lieu of soft lines and tiled walls, you can experience some of the most modern design in Porto, including the Casa da Musica, La Boheme entre Amis Bar or the Vidalgo Palace Spa. Porto is also the source of port wine. Along the river Douro, on Vila Nova de Gaia, you can tour dozens of Porto houses to learn about Ruby, Tawny, Vintage, and Colheita port wines. You can also head back across the river to the Porto side and dip into one of the many river-lined restaurants serving fresh fish and olive-oil-marinated octopus.
During this culinary vacation, you will enjoy fresh daily breakfast, seven delectable lunches, six amazing dinners and one Michelin Star meal. All of these meals include many dishes from the Portuguese cooking tradition, such as as peixinhos da horta (frittered string beans that inspired Japans tempura), bacalhau (cured cod), succulent alcatra (Azorean rump roast); some of the finest shellfish, spicy barbecued chicken petiscos, seafood specialties, leitao da bairrada (suckling pig), caldo verde (a potato and garlic broth topped with toothy kale), rounds of smoky sausage (chourio), and traditional pastries. You will also have the opportunity to participate in tastings of presunto (cured ham made from the Iberian pig) a variety of fragrant olive oils, magnificent wines, and some of the finest ports.
In the last few years, Lisbon has been vigorously reinventing its classic Portuguese cuisine with a new refined flair. Whilst there are still plenty of mom and pop tascas and tabernas serving the classics, several new high-end gourmet-style versions have been opening in vast numbers, throughout the downtown and other affluent neighborhoods. Wine-bars have been also flourishing across the city, catering to the still niche market. Gourmet stores are also mushrooming in downtown Lisbon, reigniting the tradition of Portuguese canned fish, sweet jams, and preserved fruits. Ethnic restaurants from former colonies became more popular in recent years, especially Brazilian, Goan, and African cuisines.
Atlantic to the west, rivers to the north, mountains to the east: Porto is spectacularly placed to garner ingredients. There is wonderful fish and seafood, rare breed meats, stunning charcuterie, fruit, nuts, and vegetables. Porto has its signature dishes, but it also serves the traditional cuisine of all the northern regions, copious cooking for rural manual workers, heavy on potatoes, rice and bread - all at once. Alongside tradition, modern cooking has recently come to Porto, but rapidly gaining pace. Every month brings another new restaurant, serving sensibly modest portions on beautifully arranged plates still based on those great ingredients, with traditional themes tweaked.
Portugal not only lays claim to founding the very first wine producing regions in the world, the Douro, but also for having one of the most diverse collections of native grapes. If you consider its distinct microclimates, you can imagine the variation in personality that each grape possess; whereby creating a perfect palate for winemakers to paint with. From light, effervescent white Vinho Verde wines in the north, to intense flavor driven still and fortified wines in the Douro; and from sweet and unctuous dessert wines in Setubal, to spicy, rich reds in the Alentejo, there really is no flavor that encompasses Portugal. Consider this your vinous playground. Equally true, Portugal can be also considered a culinary patchwork of texture, flavor and aroma.
Please arrive Lisbon Portela Airport (LIS). Catavino will pick you up. The pick-up is included in the price.