Weekend in Portugal: the magic of Lisbon, splendors of Sintra and wonderful Portuguese wines
Are you a gourmet at the table aficionado?
Do you get thrilled by a glass of good wine?
If so, Portugal has fantastic food and wine in store for you (and much, much more …)! How about planning one (or more) Portuguese weekend escapes in the name of beauty, taste and excellent wine?
Let’s get off to a great start with Lisbon, neighboring Sintra, their territory and its rich wines
The wines of the Lisbon region are the products o the most traditional varieties of Portuguese viticulture. Thanks to the varied microclimates of the region, very different and high quality wines are produced.
There are nine DO wines (origin controlled) in the Lisbon region: Colares, Carcavelos and Bucelas (south of the capital), Alenquer, Arruda, Torres Vedras, Lourinhã and Óbidos (in the center of the Lisbon region) and Encostas d’Aire (to the north, near the Beiras region)The top wines
Out of them all, two areas have gained international recognition and prestige. The first is Alenquer, where the vines are protected from the Atlantic winds, favoring the ripening of the grapes and the production of more concentrated wines.
The second is Colares with a truly unique territory. Due to the proximity of the sea, the climate is harsh, with moderate temperatures, strong sea winds and a high percentage of humidity in the air. If there is a wine with the sea in its soul, it is that of Colares. a very truly special wine. It is worth going to the Adega Regional de Colares and booking a visit and a tasting to get to know it .
In the Lisbon area we find many wineries that offer tastings, accompanied by local delicacies and often offering the opportunity to spend the night in their bed and breakfast escorted by the smile and exquisite welcome of the Portuguese people.
Here we are , at Quinta do Monte d’Oiro ,just 20 km from the ocean where the constant wind and the Mediterranean microclimate with Atlantic influences give the wines great freshness, elegance and balance. Quinta do Monte D’Oiro 2016 stands out in the production, a dense, structured and seductive white., Quinta do Monte D’Oiro ExAequo 2015, sober and mature, with complex aromas of ripe fruit and a touch of licorice, Quinta do Monte D’Oiro Syrah 24 2016 a great wine, fresh with notes of chocolate and spices and hints of ripe fruit.
Quinta do Monte D´Oiro
Adega Regional de Colares, created in 1931, is the oldest cooperative winery in Portugal! With such an ancient tradition and such a remarkable typicality, the viticulture of the Colares region has become an important historical element battle, which main objective is the protection and conservation of the Colares wine culture.
In the spectacular cellar of the coop, I met the oenologist Francisco Figueiredo who introduded me to their Ramisco (red) and Malvasia (white). Both wines are rare, given that the production area is limited, and bad weather is frequent. The vines are planted in the sand and to be protected from extreme maritime influence, they are sheltered by palisades of dried reeds sewn with wicker. This is how original and extraordinary These unique whites and reds arrive to us, preferably aged. They are sought after wines by for those who love loving rarities, which is explains why visits and tastings are in great such demand here. .
I asked Francisco what are the best pairing with some Portuguese dishes and he replied that Malvasia goes very well with calderaira, a fish soup with potatoes and vegetables, cooked, as tradition dictates, in the cataplana, a typical Algarve’s pot, for him Gramisco is perfect for lamb meat or a risotto with porcini mushrooms.
The Lisbon region has many more wines to discover and try!
Excellent reason to reach Wines of Portugal whose headquarters in Lisbon are right in the spectacular Praca do Comercio. located in the city center. The mission of Wines of Portugal is “to promote the image of Portugal as a wine producer par excellence, enhancing the“ Vinhos de Portugal” brand, contributing to sustained growth in the volume and average price of Portuguese wines.ViniPortugal has two tastings where visitors are invited to take a journey from the north to the south of the country through a tasting of wines from various regions.
You can choose between the “Self-service tasting” from a selection of 32 wines available in the dispensing machines. There is no need to book.
WHERE TO EAT IN LISBON
I’m neither vegan nor vegetarian, but the curiosity to experience the first vegetarian restaurant of that genius of a Chef that is José Avillez was just too strong…. Here I am at the Encanto, the enchanted vegetable world where the work of small and local Portuguese farmers is celebrated and where haute cuisine and vegetables share the spotlight. A cuisine without meat or fish, but not vegan, so eggs and cheeses also appear in some dishe
Encanto is a new experience for the super starred Chef, at the helm of over 20 restaurants in Portugal and around the world.
I met Josè Avillez for a pleasant interview.
Hola Josè, if I’m not mistaken, we are where your BelCanto steakhouse was before, right?
Exactly. Some time ago I moved BelCanto to the largest location next door and this space became Canto, a music-restaurant with live performances of some of the best Portuguese artists such as Ana Moura and António Zambujo .Then came, Canto closed and I recently reopened this space with a new totally vegetarian project that I called Encanto.
Hola Josè, can you tell me about this new adventure of yours?
The project got me to reinvent and continually challenge myself. It was a real shock at first, being so accustomed to value seafood and meat dishes, from caviar to lobsters, from bacalhau to rabbit, to carabineiro. I wanted to challenge myself to discover a world without meat or fish, focused on vegetables.
The cuisine of Encanto focuses on fewer ingredients, no animal proteins, but only vegetables from Portugal, local or from the north and south of the country.
Focus on Portugal also for the wines?
Of course, I wanted to celebrate Portuguese wines but also to give the possibility to pair the dishes with non-alcoholic drinks based on vegetables, flowers and fruit.
You recently worked on a 4 hands menu with your starred Italian colleague Enrico Crippa, how was the experience?
Very pleasant and interesting, Enrico is a lovely person. It was nice to get his input on the menu, to experience his cuisine and discover his famous Salad 21-31-41, which reminded me of the iconic Gargouillou vegetarian composition by Michel Bras. His presence, undoubtedly, invited me to expand my knowledge the world of plants.
Your first memory in the kitchen?
I was 4 or 5years old, when I came back from school I was always super hungry and I remember that I used to go in the kitchen and with a spoon I tried everything my mother Fatima or grandmother Laura were preparing. It was a very simple and traditional cuisine, we lived near the sea, so a lot of fish.
Where do you like to spend the weekend? What car do you drive?
A Jeep, very useful for my trips outside the city. I often spend Sundays near Cascais, we have a house with a small vegetable garden and I enjoy cooking lunch for my family and some relatives.
Yes, I really love to cook and find it means a lot to take care of those around you, which is why I also really appreciate the dishes that other chefs sometimes prepare for me. I love discovering small family-run tascas or even better if I am invited home by my relatives, where the cuisine is truly genuine.
The furniture, the lights, the colors and above all the team… I find there is a happy atmosphere here in Encanto …
Thanks Cesare, it’s a wonderful compliment.
Often we look away or away forgetting to see what is close to us. In a society where everything goes faster and faster, you often forget humanity and attention to others. For me it is essential that the people I live and work with are happy and that everything is fine.
And now… top shopping to celebrate the “value of time” Valor do Tempo
Where to start a truly “Made in Portugal” shopping?
Certainly with a coffee and a delicious pastel de nata in A Brasileira, one of the places managed by the O Valor do Tempo group, whose mission is to promote the best that Portugal has to offer to the world, from crafts to gastronomy.
A Brasileira do Chiado is one of the oldest and most emblematic cafes in Lisbon, a meeting point for the intellectuals of the past, Opened in 1905, it was the scene of numerous intellectual, artistic and literary gatherings, or “tertúlias” and also the place where they were often writers and artists such as Fernando Pessoa or Almada Negreiros. Here was born the “bica” (the Lisbon espresso coffee)) which would be an abbreviation of “drink it with sugar” (“beba isto com açúcar”),
In the 100 years old Joalharia do Carmo, you can appreciate the delicate jewels made with the traditional gold and silver filigree, while the local craftsmanship is represented by the Figurado de Barcelos, where thanks to the creations of master potters, tradition and everyday life become exponents of a pop-art that gives shades of Portuguese soul and color and defines the identity of a people.
How to resist a can of the iconic Portuguese sardines?
Imaginative, bizarre, colorful, you will find them in the cans by Comur called “The fantastic world of the Sardine” Il fantastico mondo della Sardina. Here, the “queens of the sea” await you, prepared in many ways, au natural, marinated, grilled, with vegetables and even dated with your year of birth.
Museo da Ceveja , in the spectacular Terreiro do Paço square. The museum and restaurant offer culture, gastronomy and a journey through the flavors of Portuguese beers., Proudly displaying Portugal’s heritage by celebrating the many beers produced in the various regions of the country.Casa Pereira da Conceição since 1933 it has been one of the most characteristic tea and coffee houses in Lisbon. The pleasant aroma of tea and coffee, carefully presented in sumptuous furniture from over 150 years old, invites visitors to also try the famous Ovos Moles de Aveiro and the traditional Raivas De Aveir
Silva & Feijóo is a century-old shop on Rua dos Bacalhoeiros in Pombaline, Downtown Lisbon. In addition to the traditional pastry, it offers a wide selection of: coffee, wines, olive oils and regional pastries, but also crafts, soap-making and perfumes for the body and for the home and souvenirs.
The top ?
Casa Portuguesa do Paste de Bacalhau where you can enjoy an authentic specialty: a delicious maxi croquette stuffed with cod and Serra da Estrela cheese. prepared under your eyes ..
Its oval shape recalls that of quenelles, great as a side dish for an appetizer, with rice and tomatoes or bean salads or simply as street food or an appetizing snack ‘on the road’
In addition to the very central Lisbon House, in Rua Augusta 106, Casa Portuguesa do Pastel Vila Nova de Gaia has recently opened its doors in a historic location in the front of riverside right where used to be the headquarters of the Porto cellars, and where the “rabelo” boats unloaded the wine barrels.
It is a true paradise of scents and colors awaits you in addition to the delicious pastel that is enjoyed here with a traditional glass of port. while a fabulous 19th century Portuguese pipe organ takes care of the atmosphere and … live music. A unique experience that awakens the senses, an exclusive tribute to the land and the sea.
WHERE TO SLEEP IN LISBON
Brand new, central, well served by public transport and a stone’s throw from the subway.
Essential and elegant furnishings a pleasant garden-patio where in the evening a spectacular Light Show comes alive, where truly amazing graphics and bright images tell the story of the city.
All rooms are equipped with the most modern technologies (such as tablets and USB sockets) and extra large beds to offer guests maximum comfort which also offers a panoramic swimming pool, gym, meeting rooms and co-working spaces.
The Hotel recently opened its restaurant Clorofila, led by Chef Celso Dias who offers an eclectic menu, full of references to traditional Portuguese cuisine, revisited with imagination. Starting with the iconic croquettes, originally small, proposed by Dias in a double size, perfect for two guests, who can start their conversation discussing the flavor.
In fact, “share and talk” is the slogan of Clorofila.
“I wanted to resume the old tradition of Portuguese restaurants, Dias tells me, where a large dish was served in the center of the table from which all the diners drew, tasted and discussed it. here we do the same because it is important to share and talk about it “
The menu features the typical saladas portuguesas served in a triptych of octopus, tuna and fish roe. The bacalhau, cooked in earthenware and traditionally served with potatoes, cannot be missing, while the cabbages have been replaced by pok choi. “
Many dishes have been inspired by my Mamma Vitorina’s genuine cooking, adds Dias, including the traditional” patinisca style”, which I have adopted by transforming it into a rich dish of fried clams and lime rice”. “
The splendours of Sintra
We leave Lisbon with the train that leaves from the marvelous Sao Bento Station, a riot of azulejos, the classic Portuguese tile that for centuries has covered and still covers the walls of prestigious buildings. In less than an hour you will be in Sintra.
Well get ready to take your breath away … in all senses both for the extraordinary beauty of the royal buildings, and for the steep ups and downs of the city streets … and for the goodies and wines that this city will give you. It extends over the Monte della Luna and has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was the summer residence of the Portuguese kings and for its beauty and austerity it was much loved by European artists and writers such as Hans Christian Andersen, who called it “the most beautiful place in Portugal” or the English poet Lord Byron, who he called “garden of Eden”
Gothic-style royal palace of the medieval era, rich in furnishings, tapestries, ceramics and azulejos, which marvelously cover the Room of the Sirens and the Grota dos Banhos, born in the 15th century to be a cool outdoor refuge, sheltered from the sun and cooled by drops of water that fell from the ceiling.
Palácio da Pena
Ancient monastery rebuilt for King Ferdinand II, A fairytale castle perched on top of a hill, a colorful mix of styles: Arabic, Gothic, Manueline, Renaissance and Baroque. They loved spending the summer there and strolling in the large park also celebrated by the musician Richard Strauss.
Castelo dos Mouros
The castle of the Moors, built in the 7th century by the Arabs, as its name implies. It is located at the top of the town and stands high above the city among the rocks and oaks of the Sierra. You can reach it with the 343 bus which departs connecting all the main points of interest. A little crowded, but useful.
il Parque de Monserrate.
Near Sintra you will find an impressive botanical garden among ruins, lakes and waterfalls Inside is the exotic neo-Gothic Palacio, considered one of the most beautiful architectural creations of Romanticism in Portugal. It was reborn after the earthquake of 1755, beautifully renovated in its magical rooms: Musica, Estar and Jantar. Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Not to be missed!
The top delicacy of Sintra
Let yourself be seduced by the scent of fresh pasta, the aroma of vanilla and almonds to dive into the microcosm of Casa Piriquita, the most authentic (and crowded) pastry shop in the city.
Grab your number and … wait, as the Portuguese love to do things calmly and with a wonderful smile, which is triggered after each ‘obrigado (thank you) The choice of pastries and biscuits is endless: queljadas de Sintra, nozes douradas, pastel cruz alta …,
DOVE DORMIRE A SINTRA
4 stars, very central, literally a stone’s throw from the Palacio National. It is part of the well-established Tivoli chain and offers all the comforts of a great accommodation …,
From the bar, the Miranda restaurant and some rooms you can enjoy a wonderful view of the mountains on which many of the wonders of Sintra emerge such as the Quinta da Regaleira, the Castle of the Moors, Monserrate and Pen.
Chef Josè Silva is at the helm of the Miranda restaurant which offers a menu perfectly in harmony with the history and tradition of the territory. I met Nuno Santa Antunes, Tivoli’s Food & Beverages Manager, he explained the menu and helped me choose the most characteristic dishes of Portuguese cuisine. .
Starting with the pica-pao de novilho, morsels of veal loin to be eaten with a toothpick, the delicious peixinhos da horta, tempura-style green beans accompanied by tartar sauce, the iconic bacalhau à la Bras, cooked with eggs, onions, potatoes, garlic and olives. Nuno commented: “This is an ancient food that has become very trendy” since Cristiano Ronaldo confessed in an interview that it was his favorite dish”.
As a dessert, in addition to the ‘riz au lait, prepared with the same recipe for over 40 years, it was right to pay homage (and finally taste …) the most representative dessert of the city, the Travesseira de Sintra or the “pillow of Sintra” a biscuit with a delicious filling of almonds and cinnamon, traditionally served with a good glass of Port wine. A delight…. I couldn’t help but ‘steal’ the recipe.
Here you go!
TRAVESSEIRA DE SINTRA
400 g Puff Pastry
100 ml Water
300 g Sugar
150 g chopped Almonds
1 tsp Cinnamon
4 Egg yolks
q.s. Vanilla icing sugar
Mix the water with the sugar and cook until you get a syrup.
In a bowl, mix the almond flour, cinnamon and egg yolks
Slowly add the syrup
Put it back on the heat and mix until you get a cream.
Remove from heat and let cool.
Turn on the oven at 200 °.
Unroll the puff pastry and divide it into six rectangles.
On each rectangle distribute a tablespoon of almond cream.
Fold it in three parts until it forms a pillow
Press the edges and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Cook for 30-35 minutes. Let it cool, then sprinkle with the icing sugar.