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The Shepherds of Serra da Estrela: A Dying Craft Threatening Portuguese Cheese

Last month, I made a trip to the Portuguese mountains of Serra de Estrela for the first time. Serra de Estrela is the highest mountain range in continental Portugal, and we spent 3 days enjoying some breathtaking views, crystal clear mountain lakes, picturesque little villages nestled into the cliffs and the gracious hospitality of small town locals. But what truly left the biggest impression on me after visiting the mountains was being able to see first-hand the last of a dying Old World group of people, the shepherds of the Serra. The ultimos pastores are thought to be as little as 10-20 left working on the mountain, many of them in their late 60s and 70s. Their solitary work and […]

Arinto: The Chameleon of Portuguese Whites

When drinking a Portuguese white wine, it’s difficult to encounter one that doesn’t express the lovely flavors of Arinto. Arinto’s big, compact bunches, made up of small or medium-sized yellowish berries are grown and cultivated in just about every wine region in Portugal, but happens to be the most readily available from the regions around the Lisbon area, including Estremadura, Tejo, Terras do Sado and Alentejo. In fact, just for Portuguese whites tasted on the social tasting note site, Adegga.com, Arinto is the number one white varietal with 164 wines currently listed, followed only by Moscatel at 137. However, Arinto is known by many alter-egos depending on who you speak with and where you’re located. In the North, it is […]

Interview with Portuguese Fisherman Carlos Manuel

Carlos Manuel has been working the high seas for over half decade, and back in March, I spotted this local Setubal fisherman on a quiet Sunday along the harbor quietly fixing his nets. Realizing what a gem of an opportunity this was, I sat down alongside him and inquired about his life’s work and what advice he could give on finding and selecting the best possible fish every time. Carlos believes that the fish found in Portuguese waters are some of the best you can find in Europe, and I must admit that I wholeheartedly agree! But what I didn’t know is that fish such as carapau and the sardinha can be found all year round. According to local lore, […]

Peixe In Portugal: The Numerous and Delicious Varieties of Portuguese Fish

In my very first article with Catavino, I described an amazing experience lunching on fresh grilled fish along the Portuguese coast, an event I eagerly anticipated for weeks. Today, almost two years after writing that article, I can still say that I dine out on peixe grelhado every weekend, and I look forward to it as much, if not more, than I did before. Clearly, I was hooked from the start! The concept of grilling fresh fish whole in sea salt is a foreign concept to many of us in the States. Culturally, most North Americans have been brainwashed to cringe at the thought of eating anything that looks like it did when it was alive, fish included. But once […]

Portugal’s Coffee: A Sumptuous and Delectible Treat

Portugal, like most southern European countries, is no stranger to the almighty espresso. In fact, café is so ingrained into the Portuguese lifestyle, culture and history that without this dark and robust beverage, the country would most certainly come to a complete halt – or at least a short metaphysical pause. In part, this passion for goes well beyond a small caffeine jolt, as the flavor and quality of Portuguese coffee have been touted as legendary. How does such a fine cup o’ joe find its way to Portugal? After the age of conquest, circa the 15th century, most of Portugal’s colonies turned out to be some of the great coffee bean producing regions of the world to which their […]

Portuguese Grape Profile: Gouveio

An often mistaken and underrated varietal, Gouveio (go-v’eye’-yoo) is by far one of my favorite autochthonous grape varieties in Portugal. Many believe Gouveio is synonymous for Verdelho, but from what I’ve gathered, there’s no concrete evidence to prove its relation. Though similar in appearance to Verdelho, Gouveio is not only separate from the Verdelho used in Northern Portugal, but also the varieties used in the Azores (Verdelho de Pico) and in Madeira. There is also a confusion with the white Verdejo/Verdeja grape native to Spain’s Rueda, Cigales and Toro; but the only grape related to Gouveio is Godello, a varietal found in Galicia, located in the northwest corner of Spain. Other regional names in Portugal include: Gouveio Estimado, Gouveio Real […]

Top 10 Tips for Dining Out in Portugal

Dining out is by far one of my favorite things to do in my free time, as you can eat and drink quite well in Portugal at a very reasonable price! There are multitudes of local restaurants to choose from, even in the tiniest villages; and it doesn’t even matter which one you pick, as they all virtually meet the same expectations in quality, price, service and selection. This makes it challenging to have a less than stellar dining experience, which is probably why the Portuguese, and I, eat out so often. However, there are certain cultural tendencies in the local restaurant scene that remain unknown to the average tourist; and a simple miscommunication in one of these mores could […]

A Portuguese Thanksgiving Complete with Port Cranberry Sauce

For the past two years, I haven’t been able to return home for Thanksgiving. It was difficult enough that I couldn’t share the experience with my family, but adding to my despair, Thanksgiving doesn’t exist in Portugal. Well, that is until now. I decided with gusto last year, that I was going to have Thanksgiving one way or the other, even if I had to cook the whole meal myself. So I started telling some friends about the holiday, and it’s amazing food culture, suggesting that they might be interested in sharing in this holiday with me. Many Portuguese have hardly ever heard about Thanksgiving, but from the delicious displays they’ve gawked at in movies, they gladly accepted the invitation […]

Planning A Trip To Lisbon? A Food and Wine Lover’s Perfect Day

Like Gabriella in Barcelona, I too have received several emails wondering what my ideal foodie day in Lisbon would consist of. And although Lisbon is comparatively smaller than Barcelona, the options for encountering incredible food and wine experiences are both various and plentiful. So allow me to take you on a tour of Lisbon taken primarily from my experience visiting the city 3 years ago by none other than a local native Portuguese. In this tour, you’ll explore Lisbon’s high-end, riverside district of Belém (pronounced “buh-lime”) followed by a tour of Alfama, and ending at Sao Jorge’s castle at sunset. We begin our day with a simple, yet typical, Portuguese breakfast at one of the many pastelerias generously positioned throughout […]

Traditional Portuguese Bread: Investigating the Various Styles and Prepartions of Pão

One of the most inviting smells in the world is that of warm, fresh-baked bread! On many an evening, sitting on my balcony, I am greeted to this mouth-watering aroma drifting on a warm current over the neighborhood from the local bakeries preparing the next morning’s supply. Bread baking in Portugal is just as an important part of the culture as is wine, cheese and pastries. And even though most Portuguese consume all of these on a daily basis, bread is the only one that plays an integral part to every meal, consisting of the entire meal in some regions! It’s also safe to say that encountering stale, unappetizing bread is a rarity when dining at a restaurant or cafe, […]