With the vast Atlantic to the west, crystalline rivers to the North, soaring mountains to the east: Porto is spectacularly placed to offer fresh, mouthwatering ingredients. There are delectable fish and seafood, succulent rare breed meats, artisan charcuterie, and vibrant fruits, nuts and vegetables bursting with flavor. Beyond its signature dishes, Porto serves the traditional cuisine of some of the most remote villages of the Northern region, where rural families have a gift for transforming frugal foods into soulful feasts.
Alongside traditional cuisine, haute and fusion cuisine is quickly becoming commonplace in Porto. A new restaurant bubbles to the surface monthly, serving sensibly modest portions on beautifully arranged plates with quality, regional products as the base, but with a twist on tradition. Blink, and a new bar appears, selling wine by the glass alongside petiscos – Portugal’s small bites.
Based on Catavino’s newly released gastro-tourism book Porto: Stories from Portugal’s Historic Bolhão Market, this six-day tour will be a wonderful whirlwind for your senses, tantalizing your tastebuds with Northern Portugal’s premiere ingredients, along with a rich understanding of the region’s gastronomic heritage.
Arrive to your renovated 18th century palace that’s been transformed into a cozy boutique hotel set just a stone’s throw from Porto’s main historical attractions. See the colorful tiles aligning the city streets, intricately laid cobblestone and majestic monuments. Meander down narrow alleys filled with mouthwatering aromas of grilled fish, wooden port casks and roasted chestnuts. Porto is a romantic city, a place where ancient buildings and centuries old cafes line the streets beckoning you to discover!
Come evening, Gabriella Opaz, co-author of the book that inspired this tour, will greet you upon your arrival to one of the best restaurants in Porto! Here, every gastronomic moment is exclusively designed for you in a light, family-style environment to ease you into your adventure. The main culinary feature will be Arroz de Tamboril (monkfish rice). This rich, aromatic comfort food is brimming with shrimp and chunks of fresh fish nestled in a savory tomato broth. It’s one of the many incredible dishes you’ll be introduced to this evening. Not only that, but tonight will be your initial induction into Portuguese wine, including rare and unique wines from Catavino’s private cellar!
Today, you’ll head to the land of Port wine and endless gastronomic delicacies.
Your wine experience will begin at a charismatic family owned winery, located in the picturesque town of S. João da Pesqueira in the Douro Superior wine region. Upon arrival, one of the owners will lead you on a walking tour of their undulating vineyards over the Douro River, followed by an intimate wine tasting. This winery is part of a new generation of small family wineries based in the Douro, with over a century of Port Wine experience.
Lunch is served at a quaint restaurant tucked away in the mountainous town of Ervedosa – easy to pass if you blink! The menu focuses on family recipes, such as the wood oven roasted posta mirandesa (Mirandesa steak), prepared in households across the region for centuries.
Relax on a leisurely private cruise along the winding Douro River in a barco rabelo, a majestic wooden sailboat historically used transport the Port wine barrels from the Douro Valley to the Port Lodges in Vila Nova de Gaia.
Tonight will be yours to explore various other regional treats throughout Porto, which we’ll gladly advise, or to relax in your hotel with glass of Port wine.
Considered the birthplace of Portuguese culture, and the original capital of the country, Guimarães was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2001 for being an exceptionally well-preserved and authentic example of an evolved medieval settlement in Europe. On this tour, you’ll visit the Castle, the Palace of the Duques de Bragança and the historical center.
Your driver will take you to the stunning medieval city of Braga, where lunch will be served at a local family restaurant, where you’ll explore the savory flavors of Arroz de Pato á Antiga (duck rice) for lunch. This signature dish of Braga combines smoked meats, rice and shredded duck in an earthenware dish. It’s rich, sumptuous and heavenly, especially when paired with wines from the Minho.
After lunch, you’ll stretch your legs to explore Braga’s magnificent downtown center, where its stately Cathedral soars above the horizon. The cathedral is the oldest in the country and was built in the 12th century by the parents of Portugal’s first King, D. Henrique and D. Teresa, who are buried there.
Your tour will end with a cheese and wine tasting, complete with the region’s drunken pear dessert.
Tonight is your night to explore Porto on your own. If you’re keen for some suggestions on where to dine, we’re happy to oblige. Otherwise, let your stomach be your guide!
Meet the driver in the lobby and depart towards Portugal’s little Venice, Aveiro.
Located just south of Porto, you’ll tour the salt flats of Aveiro. These flats have been in existence well before the founding of Portugal, providing the country its prime ingredient for Bacalhau (salted cod). They are also home to some of the gourmet salts gracing top restaurants around the world.
Lunch today will be grilled fresh fish at a local restaurant located in São Jacinto. Though grilled fish is in general beloved by the Portuguese, sardines definitely reign supreme. They’re incredibly tasty and perfect to savor over a thick nutty piece of broa (cornbread).
On the way back to Porto, make a quick stop at Ovar to dip into something sweet, such as Pão de Ló de Ovar, This Portuguese sponge cake can range from gooey to spongy depending on the humidity and “fluff” infused, but we’ll let you be the judge!
Dinner tonight will be slightly spicy, savory and oh so sumptuous! Allow us to introduce you to Portugal’s churrasco. A whole chicken will be butterflied open and put in a typical marinade mixture of olive oil, white wine, garlic, bay leaf, lemon juice and paprika. After soaking up the delicious flavors, it’s placed on a rotating spit over a flaming hot coal pit, basted with more sauce and served with a touch of piri-piri (hot sauce) and a cold pint of beer!
This morning, you’ll embark on a three hour walking tour taking you to the heart of the book, the Mercado do Bolhao, where you’ll meet many of the vendors that have made northern cuisine internationally known. In addition to hearing their heartwarming stories, you’ll wind through the streets of Old Town Porto to visit numerous hidden little nooks and crannies in search of the perfect sandwich. From the famous Francesinha to the juicy Pernil com Queijo, the sandwich is the unspoken gourmet delicacy of the region.
Free time to explore Porto on your own, but we highly suggest taking a quick tour of the Port wine lodges on the opposite side of the river. The caves, as the Portuguese call them, is where Port has been blended and matured for centuries, all of them in Vila Nova de Gaia. Walk across the two-tier Dom Luis I bridge, with Catavino’s Port Lodge Map in hand, to expand your gustatory senses.
Tonight is the farewell dinner! No goodbye dinner is complete in Portugal without mountains of seafood! Chunky shrimp, juicy crab and heaps of mouthwatering lobster will be awaiting you upon arrival. We’ll even have a special guest to bring rare wines to complete the experience!
Breakfast is included at your hotel this morning. Checkout is until 12pm
Private transfer by Deluxe Mercedes Sedan from hotel to Porto International Airport (1 per couple). Or if you’re interested to explore more of Portugal, simply contact us for further details!
Single supplement 450 euros.
Price is in euros per person based on 10 people sharing a double room (maximum 12 people).
Offer limited to seats available. Offer is good by October 1st, 2018.
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