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Tag Archives: Portugal

Quinta do Vallado: Revisiting an Old Friend in the Douro Valley

Many moons ago, Ryan and I took our first trip to Portugal. The year was 2003, and our objective was to celebrate our marriage among the vines, the winding city streets and with any luck, to create a memory that would become the foundation of our relationship. Three weeks of exploration, and diving into the unknown with only 2 backpacks and no cellphone, led to an incredible adventure. The trip took us as far as south as the Alentejo, as far north as the Minho; and although there were several places that left a lifelong impression on me, it was the Douro that held center stage on this trip. For those of you who haven’t visited Portugal, it’s important to note […]

A Tale of Two Portuguese Regions: Douro and Serra da Estrela Are Calling

Editor’s Note: Invited by the Douro e Estrela – In Tourism  project, our Catavino contributor Sonia Nolasco spent five days in June traveling through the Douro Valley and the Serra da Estrela region’s Beira Interior. Sonia gorged at countless gastronomical feasts, imbibed great quantities of wine, and checked out hunky, shirtless Portuguese men on her trip—all for the sake of bringing you this two-part report. Enjoy! Imagine traveling about an hour through pitch black darkness, going to sleep not quite sure where you are at the moment—only to find yourself a few hours later waking up to the beauty in the picture above. That’s not likely how I would’ve planned it, but in the end that’s part of what made the […]

Conservas de Peixe: The Tasty but Discernible Truth Behind Canned Fish in Portugal

I absolutely love Portuguese fish. Whether writing or speaking, I can go on and on about the quality, freshness and simplicity of a perfectly grilled piece of fish in Portugal.  It’s something I recommend everyone should experience at least once in their life. But if you had asked me not too long ago about Portuguese canned fish, I probably wouldn’t have been as enthusiastic.  I’ve had fluctuating experiences with canned fish over the last 5 years, especially from my random supermarket sampling.  It was like having a can of Spaghetti-O’s. Though tasty in its own way, I would still prefer having homemade meal. That said, as of recent, canned fish has gone gourmet in Portugal. Specifically in the major cities of Lisbon and Porto, […]

Celebrating the 2011 Vintage: A Rare Port Wine of Exceptional Quality

At 9am on a cool Friday morning in Foz, with a stunning view of the Atlantic ocean, I joined a room full of international Port wine experts to taste 56+ 2011 Vintage Port wines.  These wines, in their youth, have an uncanny ability to strip enamel and burn tastebuds. And while you suffer the strength of these monsters, you are participating in an exercise of divination with only a cloudy, purple, crystal ball to guide you. It demands the taster make grand pronouncements as to the future of a beverage wound tight in tannins, acidity and fruit. Will it age into an elegant treasure to share with future generation? Not the easiest judgement to make, but one worth the adventure no matter the dental […]

Easy Breezy: Summer Salads Portuguese Style

As the hottest months quickly approach, I begin to feel the spellbinding sluggishness of a sultry summer day creep up on me. I want nothing more than to lounge around on the weekend, with very little fuss or muss about anything—including cooking. For as much as I enjoy hanging around the kitchen, this time of year, I turn to quick and easy salads. However, any old salad with your standard store-bought dressing won’t do! I can give up my robust Portuguese roasts and hearty stews when the days get warmer, but I still want lots of flavor in my easy salads to stand up to a good glass of wine. Bet you do too. So, thought I would share three […]

Portuguese Wine Invasion – Midwest Tour

For years, we’ve spoken of our adoration of Portugal; but since our move, we’ve been shocked by the number of people who are unaware of its existence. This becomes even more profound when we head back to the States and realize that very few of my wine geek friends are familiar with Portuguese wine beyond Port. Hear this enough and your heart gets heavy. Understandably, you want people to know about Portugal. You want people to have the same joy and elation you have. We quickly realized that although we couldn’t buy every one of our close friends a ticket to Portugal, we could potentially, bring Portugal to them. With this in mind, we noticed that there were a few […]

Schist: A Cultural Staple in the Douro Valley and Beyond

Editor’s Note: Fiona Lynch and her husband Jonathan, two passionate geologists, moved from Scotland to the Lima Valley in the Minho region in Portugal. We’re very appreciative of their willingness to share their experience, and hope this will be one of many we can expect from them in the future. Like most of northern Portugal, the geology of the Minho region is dominated by granite rocks. Rolling hills with massive round boulders cluster around peaks or are strewn about slopes and sandy river banks in the valleys. Every now and again, on my hikes through the forests or along the country lanes, I come across a ragged twist of dark orange schist called xisto. This thinly layered rock, ranging in […]

Value wine: I do not think it means what you think it means.

I was at a tasting a few days ago in Porto where the presenter pointed out at the beginning of their talk that they wanted to focus on “value wines”. However, he then continued by saying that, with regret, while that was the goal, he just couldn’t bring himself to do it. He felt that he needed to show some wines at higher price points instead to show what Portuguese wines were really capable of. When I heard this I was a bit shocked. It reminded me of a scene from what is possibly one of the greatest films ever made, The Princess Bride. Throughout a series of challenges, the ‘mastermind’ Vizzini keeps repeating the word “Inconceivable” until eventually, the […]

Shopping In Portugal: Five Gourmet Portuguese Products for Travel

Portugal is brimming with history, tradition and an abundance of natural resources, mainly of the edible variety! I’ve lost count of the number of nut, cork and olive trees; the vast amount of grapevines and vegetable gardens capable of growing in every nook and cranny; clear rivers and streams teeming with life and herds of goats and sheep, cattle and Iberian black pigs that graze along expansive sunny green pastures. It’s a life that makes you green with envy yourself. Take a walk through the countryside in the springtime and flowers are so lush and wild that they’re bursting through drainpipes and sprouting on rooftops. It’s these images that come to mind when I go shopping for Portuguese products. It’s […]

Taberna do Sao Pedro: A Mouthwatering Fire Hazard in Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal

When travelling to new lands, there is always something enticing about “discovering” a place you think no one else knows about. As if you’re a rugged explorer who has stumbled upon that one diamond, that one unique place that is privy to you alone. That, my friends, is a fantastic feeling, in large part due to your incredibly effective brainwashing techniques; because let’s be honest, that one “hidden” spot in the era of social media, is most likely known to the entire planet. But hey, let’s live the dream, shall we? We found Taberna do Sao Pedro on a gorgeous afternoon after taking a long, meandering walk through Porto. Our goal was to find the one bus that would take […]