Posts Tagged : food

Maria Pia Restaurant in Cascais

Text José Silva | Translation Bruno Ferreira

On the Cascais marina and leaning against the walls of the citadel, with a superb view over the bay, we find this wide place fully surrounded by in glass, and the effect is so beautiful that it almost seems like the sea goes in there.

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The entrance – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

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The room – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

The décor is modern, airy, with some old elements and half a dozen sofas at the entrance that people can use while waiting for table or even to have some snacks and drinks before the meal.

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Room – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

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Room – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

The tables are well set, with simplicity but with great quality. The service is in charge of young, friendly, helpful, and very professional people. One of the features of this fine eating house is that it opens at noon and serves uninterruptedly until midnight, be it snacks or a full meal. This is supported by a very well-equipped kitchen and a team of professionals led by Chef Pedro Mendes that has an extensive experience leading teams in this area. The Chef bets on a menu that consists mostly of sea products, including fresh fish and seafood, and even using algae that provide connections full of freshness, which taste like the sea. Over here some seasonal products are also served, like truffles, that I could recently experience during a very nice dinner.

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Montado Alentejano – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

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Truffles’ rice and Alentejo pork’s tenderloin – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

We started with the “montado alentejano” – head of xara (hog head cheese), acorn and truffle – followed by a creamy truffles’ rice and Alentejo pork’s tenderloin and flour sausage.

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Orange – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

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Couvert – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

We ended the meal with five orange textures, very well achieved. But let’s try some of the Maria Pia restaurant’s menu dishes.

First, the couvert, featuring olives’ bread and homemade bread, and thin and crunchy toast to dip in the crushed coriander or to spread with normal butter, beet butter or butter with cuttlefish ink. A beautiful start!!

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Tomato soup – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

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Gazpacho – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

Of course the soups and broths couldn’t be missing: a creamy tomato soup with beaten egg and flavored croutons, a delicious soup of Algarve clams and a refreshing beaten gazpacho, slightly spicy with the tomato giving it a thick cream that wraps the other raw vegetables. It all tasted very good!

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Atlantic crab mouths with lemon emulsion – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

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Sea bass ceviche – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

As starters we can enjoy worked oysters tasting like the sea, delicious Atlantic crab mouths with lemon emulsion, well-seasoned sea bass ceviche and tuna tartar with sesame and ginger, and tuna pataniscas with soy sauce.

Or a platter of clams with lemon and coriander, to eat by hand and dip the bread in the sauce, a treat.

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Black bread soup – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

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Shrimp over black linguini – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

Then we had a black bread soup of seafood with fried cuttlefish, a beautiful match. The extra hot spicy shrimp over black linguini and the fried sea bass with algae risotto. All delicious.

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Cod risotto – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

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Sea bass à Bulhão Pato – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

The creamy cod risotto is also an option, as is the Algarve cockle xerém with squid in tempura or an incredible rice with coriander with bass à Bulhão Pato. All great!

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Braised tuna – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

To end perfectly we had braised tuna, beet cream and sautéed vegetables. The tuna was on point with a fantastic texture, the assorted vegetables were very well worked.

In the terrace, we did not withstood a Preguinho with excellent meat in olive bread and garlic mayonnaise, tender and tasty, really good… There almost wasn’t space for the apple crumble with ice cream. The wine list is still evolving, and there’s a promise of many new features, the most important of which is a terrace in a gazebo above the restaurant with very fresh seafood and sparkling wines, white wines and some rosés, in the company of that landscape.

It will be amazing!

Areia Restaurant Bar, a delicious meal by the sea

Text José Silva | Translation Jani Dunne

One day, this genuine Minho lady, born in Caminha, decided to devote herself to cooking, a passion that gradually took her over, and is now her whole life. Fishing is, together with agriculture, one of the main sources of income in the district; taking all this into account, Margarida Rego started researching, studying, tasting and trying to get to know products at the higher end. And so she continued creating dishes, making changes and even some provocations, without neglecting the traditional good things from her homeland. She also enjoys meeting her suppliers, some of which are also her friends.

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The Beach – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

These were the reasons why she embarked on managing a space which isn’t much more than a beach hut, Areia Restaurant Bar, in the beautiful Praia do Carreço, a bit further north of Viana do Castelo.

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The Restaurant – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

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The Restaurant – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

Margarida still keeps the place as a beach hut, where she serves snacks; however she has adapted it – both indoors and the terrace outside – to serve her very unique cuisine, which evolves according to what becomes available, especially products that come out of the sea: sea urchins, red-beak goose barnacles, rock crab, the always excellent bream, – and when it’s tastier – the very octopus, john dory, sea bass, prawns in their season, and a real passion for seaweed from that very same sea, and which she cooks superbly. The meat as well; either pork, beef of the barrosão or cachena breed, depending on what is available.

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The al-fresco area – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

Besides, there’s all that modern and airy modest space right on the sand, fully invaded by that amazing landscape, and the all-mighty sea in the background. The service is remarkable, with quality staff, who serve you pleasantly and efficiently throughout the meal, including an exquisite wine service.

Although it was a bit windy, we decided for the al-fresco area, which turned out right. Bottles were opened after having been kept cool in a frappé, while we drank them.

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Bread – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

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Percebes – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

Various kinds of bread were served, with olive oil and different condiments; all of a sudden the percebas (or goose barnacles in the north of Portugal) appeared, absolutely gorgeous!

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Rock Crab – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

Immediately followed by already opened rock crabs, full of eggs, tasting of the sea.

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The ready-peeled sautéed prawns – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

Also tasting of the sea were the ready-peeled sautéed prawns on a bed of delicious seaweed, their antennae were well fried and crunchy; we ate them all.

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The dish with its contents – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

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The dish poured with rock crab broth – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

That’s when the first provocation arrived – a rock crab soup. First, they served the dish with its contents, and immediately poured the rock crab broth over them; excellent.

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Octupus – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

The octopus was very tender, served with batata a murro (literally punched baked potato), sautéed cabbage and a very soft red pepper foam – very good.

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John dory fillet – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

Margarida’s second provocation followed, an excellent john dory fillet on a bed of green beans and various types of seaweed – symbolizing both the countryside and the beach, which you can see on either side – and also a celery and garlic purée.

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Sea urchin – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

To rinse our palate and prepare for meat, we were surprised with a sea urchin, very refreshing with little bits of strawberry.

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Barrosã meat – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

Then it was time to eat meat, or barrosã in this case, it was cooked just right, very tasty, with a side dish of delicious mushroom risotto and a green salad where rocket and purslane stood out.

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Chocolate mousse – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

The meal ended with a superb chocolate mousse, sprinkled with… salt flower, and the effect was unbelievable.

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The Wines – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

During the meal, we strolled through the António Futuro whites, a modern and appetising young vinho verde by Vale de Ambrães; another verde was already mature, well structured, and consistent; then, the elegance of an Alvarinho by Quinta de Santiago, mineral, saline, and very refreshing. The Ortigão sparkling wine brought along a young and very lively modern Bairrada to prepare us for the right Alentejano: complex, very elegant, well matched with the wood, the Esporão Reserva. At last, a delicious Quinta da Manoella appeared on the scene, Douro in all its strength. For the last drink, a Port full of tradition, Quinta Seara d’ Ordens LBV 2010, that lingered in the mouth for a long time.

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The Sea – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

The sea, oh well… it was still right in front of us…

Contacts
Areia Restaurante Bar
Praia de Carreço
4900-278 Carreço
Viana do Castelo – Portugal
Tel: (+351) 258 821 892
E-mail: geral@areia-restaurantebar.com
Website: www.areia-restaurantebar.com

Taberna Ó Balcão, a wild feast of scents and flavours by Chef Rodrigo Castelo

Text João Pedro de Carvalho | Translation Jani Dunne

A typical tavern since the 40s, after appropriate remodelling, Taberna Ó Balcão was opened in 2013 and is owned by Chef Rodrigo Castelo, born in Santarém. He was a bullfighter for more than a decade in Aposento da Moita and briefly worked in the Pharmaceutical industry, but his true passion since he was a child was cooking. Thus, his project was born – a breath of fresh air for the city, crowned with the Revelation Award at Tejo Gourmet – 5th Competition in Delicacies and Tejo Wines.

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Taberna Ó Balcão Entrance – Photo Provided by Taberna Ó Balcão | All Rights Reserved

This place is friendly; we feel surrounded by memories of a distant past, in an amusing décor inspired by old taverns of stone-top tables. With only a few free seats, this place is close to becoming a cult restaurant – the kind that know how to serve and make us feel comfortable up until the real feast. Because that is chef Rodrigo’s kitchen, shining above everything else.

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The Room – Photo Provided by Taberna Ó Balcão | All Rights Reserved

This inspired kitchen respects local produce, invoking taste at its simplest. The menu has as much variety as it has taste. Rodrigo Castelo explains how one can recreate regional meals while respecting produce and the original recipe even more so. That is what he does, and to an excellent result, because he does not add anything but his own special touch to a quality product. This usually results in very high levels of satisfaction and quality.

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The Menu – Photo by João Pedro de Carvalho | All Rights Reserved

The chef presented us with an entire lunch, a true wild feast of scents and flavours. It started with delicious Oxtail Croquettes – shredded meat and excellent seasoning – followed by Quail Thighs with a reduction of fortified wine – tender and juicy. The entrée was Rabbit in Pickling Brine, with a two-day old pickling brine, very finely shredded rabbit and a slice of dehydrated apple to garnish – very good contrast. The first main course was fish. I congratulate the River Fish Soup With Roe; very fresh. The fish in the spotlight, the herbs and soft spice to regulate, and the roe to add body. The highlight of the meal was Large Mullet Loin with River Cockle Rice. Ribatejo large mullet is in the grey mullet family and fries very well. Its loins were breaded in a crunchy crust, leaving a juicy and tasty interior. The River Cockles were less salty and of a lower calibre. They revealed a delicate flavour and tasted excellent alongside the fish. To cleanse the palate, we were served a shot of Tangerine with Sichuan pepper. It did an efficient job of handing the stage over to the meat.

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Chef Rodrigo Castelo – Photo by João Pedro de Carvalho | All Rights Reserved

Comforting and delicate are my adjectives for the Bone Soup – a velvety soup with just the right flavours of notable palate; an excellent reinterpretation and another great moment. Next, the Steer Lombeta (a small cut of meat between the hand and the chest) with a reduction of the Juices in coloured mustard and sweet potato; sliced, very tender and flavoured. Lastly, Alentejo-style steer stew, with no stock or potato, as they do in Alentejo.

In the end, you get the feeling of a great experience, simple food of regional flavour, with chef Rodrigo Castelo’s notorious touch. A place to visit and to remember; it has everything it takes to become an icon of this city and of the entire region. The staff get an A for always being friendly and attentive.

Contacts
Taberna Ó Balcão
Rua Pedro Santarém 23
2000-223 SANTARÉM
Tel: (+351) 243 055 883
E-mail: castelo.rodrigo@gmail.com
Facebook: facebook.com/tabernaobalcao

O Antigo Carteiro, in Lordelo do Ouro, in the invicta city of Oporto…

Text José Silva | Translation Jani Dunne

Helder Sousa comes from Santo Tirso. He moved to Porto to study theatre and later became a theatre producer. He worked in that field for quite some time.

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Hélder Sousa – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

One day, his interest in food and wine tempted him into a life-change. As a stroke of genius, he realised he wanted to run a restaurant, so he took over Carteiro, an already established eatery.

He named it Antigo Carteiro (meaning Former Postman) and moved into the square where the restaurant (originally a post office) was located. He knows people and places round the square; he visits the local café and people know him and respect his work. The restaurant used to serve traditional food in a homely environment. You can find it on Rua Senhor da Boa Morte, after Largo do Ouro, looking right over river Douro and winking at Aldeia da Afurada, on the other bank – in Gaia.

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Original Lettering for the Post Office – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

The kitchen is on the ground floor and, on the first floor, a tempting terrace is home to the original lettering for the Post Office.

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There are Two Rooms – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

Inside, there are two rooms, one of them facing the front of the building, with many windows and a tall mirror around the corners – an excellent effect. The back room is smaller, yet equally comfortable and well decorated using light colours – very refreshing.

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The Tables – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

Tables are expertly set – comprehensively. The staff is friendly, dedicated and very polite, including Helder, who is always there to serve and explain how meals are prepared, what ingredients they entail and what products they are made from. You can tell he is very passionate and truly loves his life’s project, which he has embraced with open arms and perseverance. Helder developed his own concept, by creating a more comfortable white-towel restaurant and serving the food he most enjoys. Wine is part of this project, with the owner looking to serve unusual wines that are not very well known, but harmonise with his cuisine. According to him, the kitchen should use high quality products, so that results are as intended. He tries to recover some things that have almost fallen into oblivion or that aren’t that common, such as ham-style tongue and pickling brine, some of his favourites. In his menu, he includes codfish and octopus, cow’s tongue and lamb shank, veel cheek, pork knee and rice with smoked sausages; as Helder usually says, food from head to toe.
He recently gathered some friends round and brought in two wine producers for a deliciously engaging journey on a quiet Sunday afternoon.

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Toasts with Tomato or Cured Salmon – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

We started with some excellently presented and very tasty toasts with tomato or cured salmon.

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Mackerel Marinated in Dry Tomato – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

This was followed by mackerel marinated in dry tomato. This kind of fish makes for fantastic meals; it’s quaint and well-tempered. The crunchy dry tomato is an excellent accompaniment.

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Small Sardines in Pickling Brine – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

The small sardines in pickling brine were fully eaten – head and all!

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Ham-style Tongue with Pink Pepper and Rocket – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

The ham-style tongue with pink pepper and rocket were also very elegant and rich in flavour.

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Risotto – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

Then, a risotto made with long-grain rice, fresh shitake mushrooms, penny bun mushrooms and green asparagus – a beautiful mix.

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Quail in Pickling Brine – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

Quail in pickling brine is a traditional recipe; served cold with little toasts – delicious.

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Veel Cheeks – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

Next were the veel cheeks, which had been marinating for several hours and came with pumpkin mash and sautéed greens, such class.

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Three-sided Plate Dessert – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

The meal came to an end with the dessert, which was served on a charming three-sided plate for three different flavours: chocolate mousse, apple crumble with port and a juicy sweet made of eggs, toasted almonds and pink pepper. This entire feast was bathed in two white wines. Very different, yet excellent:
Solar dos Lobos from 2014, young, cheeky, cool and perfectly acid, consistent and well paired with the brine.

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Solar dos Lobos 2014 white – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

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Casal de Santa Maria 2010 white – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

Also, a bottle of Casal de Santa Maria of the 2010 harvest, with a delicate touch of wood, deliciously complex aromas of asparagus and something soft and tropical, a beautiful structure and elegant acidity. It worked exceptionally well with some foods, for instance the ham-style tongue, the mushroom and asparagus risotto and the veel cheek.

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Vieira de Sousa Tawny- Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

A tawny from the house of Vieira de Sousa was the choice for dessert; very elegant with intense nutty aromas, round and deep, with great acidity, crunchy and lightly toasted. It made for a grand finale after a long afternoon.

Contacts
O Antigo Carteiro
Rua Senhor da Boa Morte, 55
4150-686 Porto
Mobile: (+351) 937 317 523
E-mail: oantigocarteiro@gmail.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/oantigocarteiro

Quinta da Pacheca – The Essence of Wine Tourism

Text José Silva | Translation Jani Dunne

The history of this farm goes back a long way. It is part of the history of wine and has belonged in the Serpa Pimentel family for 4 generations.

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The Quinta – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

The wines from this farm evolved quite a lot in the middle of the 20th century, thanks to Engineer Eduardo Serpa Pimentel’s intense dedication. He is the grandfather of the current generation, and with whom I often had the pleasure of tasting wine. This man was highly educated, had a very open mind and made many experiments with Douro vineyards, which gave him great insight that he would share with any keen listener. I remember some whites he made from species of grapes such as Rieseling or Gewurstraminer, original ideas in a very conventional Douro at the time. As for the wines, they made it to our days; safe and sound. They are more modern, more accessible; I would even say more appetising. They have made a strong return to shop shelves and restaurants with a fresh new branding, yet still representing a well-renowned name with class. With thanks to recent investments made by the new owners, Maria do Céu Gonçalves and Paulo Pereira. They are Portuguese entrepreneurs who settled in France and have bought most of the company’s capital and are now running it alongside the Serpa Pimentel family.

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Tourism industry, the restaurant and hotel – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

In the tourism industry, the quality of the restaurant and hotel is such, that they have become a reference in Baixo Corgo and even across the Douro region.

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Interior – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

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Interior – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

This piece is very well integrated in the farm’s architecture, with 15 rooms whose beauty and comfort are undeniable. Caring and remarkable service may be another reason for the high rate of visitors all year long.

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The restaurant – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

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The restaurant – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

The restaurant is run in a room of great beauty and filled with light. Besides delicious breakfasts, exquisite meals are prepared to a high degree, using Portuguese and even regional products — when possible — to make simple yet scrumptious meals.

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Alheira and Asparagus Pasty – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

In our last visit, we enjoyed a lovely alheira and asparagus pasty (alheira is made of different meats and bread) over a bed of sautéd mushrooms in Pacheca olive oil – quite delicious.

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Piece of Veel – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

Then, we had a piece of veel with portobello mushrooms and salpicão (pepperoni) from Vinhais – an extremely tender and delicious meat with earthy, meaty mushrooms and the perfect risotto, including a very Portuguese product: salpicão.

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Sweet made of Cheese and Coffee – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

For dessert, a sweet made of cheese and coffee with pistaccio maccaroon and red fruit pannacotta. Excellent presentation.

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The Wines – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

These flavours were accompanied by Pacheca Colheita white, from the 2014 harvest; very elegant, very fresh and intensely acid, made of a very balanced plot of species of grapes – a fine wine. Later, we had the red, also a Colheita (harvest), but of 2012. Good fruit in the nose, balanced, good volume in the mouth and excellent structure. It goes well with food. For desert, we had Porto Vintage from 2012, also very fruity in the nose, very lively and fresh with intense notes of mature black fruits, chocolate and tobacco; a sublime complexity and a promising future.

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New Tawny – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

We ended the evening with a new Tawny, very pleasant; with nutty aromas, a good structure, silky, intense and with excellent acidity. Naturally, both ports had been cooled…

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Winery – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

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Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

In the morning, we took a walk down the winery and its granite walls, but most of the time, we spent around the farm and its surroundings, including the Douro river looking up at us.

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The vineyards still bare – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

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One of a kind Beauty – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

The vineyards still bare, waiting out for Spring temperatures to bud. Their beauty is one of a kind and one I never tire of. They stretch out along the riverside and up the banks.

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Many Houses – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

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Many Houses – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

There are many houses on this farm, which strive on their antiquity; they still make very dignified hosts.

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Terraces and Paths – Photo by José Silva | All Rights Reserved

The various terraces and paths in the farm suggest reinvigorating walks to appreciate all that beauty, in a valley that stretches down to the river Douro.

As for the wines, they are resting in the winery until they are ready…

Contacts
Quinta da Pacheca
Cambres – 5110-424 Lamego
Portugal
Tel: (+351) 254 331 229
Fax: (+351) 254 318 380
Website: www.quintadapacheca.com