Food, Drink and Festivities in Porto

One of Las Chicas favorite parts of traveling is sampling the food and drink from each country. While Porto is best known for its Port wine, it also boasts a wide variety of bacalao (salt cod) dishes and other local delicacies.

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We begin our tasting journey at lunch in a small chocolate shop offering Plato del dia (menu of the day), including a starter of carrot soup, quiche de salmão and a beverage.

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Although Porto is a little quieter in the winter and some venues are closed, we enjoy some great food. Bacalhau is a charming riverside restaurant near our hotel. We score an inside table by the window, and are amazed at the hardy souls who choose to dine outside.

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We begin with starters, bacalao (cod) chips, pumpkin soup and delicious bread, and then enjoy other versions of bacalao for our main course. Despite periodic blasts of cold air from the door, especially when the waiter drops dishes he’s cleared from the tables outside, we are cozy and perfectly full.

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No visit to Porto is complete without at least a glimpse of the Port Wine cellars of Porto.

Some date the vineyards of the Duoro valley (where Porto is located) back to Roman times, but the Port Wine industry, as we know it today, is credited to British merchants in the 17th century.

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We tour the massive cellars of barrels and vats, each numbered and labeled with dates.

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Las Chicas learn about Port Wine’s distinct taste derived from varieties of dark grapes from the region combined with a little brandy. The collections date back to the early 1900s, minus a few bottles of the 1974 vintage. The guide suggests these bottles will likely be complementing someone’s Christmas dinner.

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No tour is complete without a sampling of Port. We choose the Classic sampling, generous amounts of varieties from Ruby to Tawny go down smoothly. But we’ll have to wait to make purchases in the Duty Free area at the airport.

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We take our chances, given our midweek, winter visit, and delay in making a reservation for dinner. How can it be that the restaurant we have chosen, and several others, are all full? But we remain optimistic and head to Cantina 32, our first choice, and are pleasantly surprised to be seated – with the caveat that we need to be done by 10 pm.

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Before our sumptuous meal begins they place a small bowl of olives and Tremoco or Lupini beans, which look like kernels of corn, in front of us. Not having eaten this traditional food of Portugal before, Las Chicas pop the whole bean in our mouths. We later learn the best way to eat Lupini beans is to nip the corner of the outside skin and enjoy the soft center.

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Following delicious starters of soup and salad, we indulge in the giant prawns for our main course. Fresh, elegant and simple, our meal is excellent.

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It’s time to take in the holiday lights, as we stroll around the main square in Porto.

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Breakfast on our last day, includes cafe, crepes, and

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a view of the holiday jello (we did not partake).

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One more stroll around Porto with time for a snack and refreshment at a riverside cafe built into the stone pillars of an old bridge.

Thanks for your hospitality Porto. We look forward to our next visit!

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