Visiting Portugal wasn’t really on my radar 10 years ago. However a a friend of mine is from Portugal (her family) and they go back often.After hearing her talk abut it for years, I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t wanted to visit. This year I was lucky enough to visit. The big question is where to go. Lisbon is an obvious option as is the sunny south coast. But for my first foray into Portugal, we chose Porto. Porto is located in the Douro Valley ( the stunningly beautiful Douro Valley but that is for a later post) and the home to Portugal’s many famed Port Houses. Since I believe wine is a food group, Porto it was.
Arriving in Porto in early April is a good time. weather is warm but not too many tourists yet. @benton8tor and I often like to start a visit to a new place with a food tour. It is usually a good way to get to know a city, find out where and what you might like to eat, and get a feel for the culture. Luckily in Porto it was a food and wine tour. Yes, yes ,yes. Sure it started at 9:30 in the morning but whatever, I am sure they wouldn’t start with wine until lunch (OK i thought 10:30 but I was wrong it was 10!). Of all the things to do in Porto I can’t recommend this tour enough. https://www.viator.com/tours/Porto/Porto-Food-and-Wine-Tasting-Tour/d26879-5902FOODWINE
We met our tour guide Sara (one of the best guides we have ever ever had) at 9:30 and started with a coffee and Portuguese pastry the famous Pastéis de Nata. It was so good that a seagull even stole one from the table next to us. Our guide then led us to the Porto Market which was an amazing experience. So much fresh food, fruit, seafood, cheese, wine and tons of souvenir type gifts including tea towel, wine openers and other knickknacks with the infamous rooster on them. we then proceeded to a local specialty shop with cheese, wine, and meats. After trying several cheeses and meats, we got to sample the world famous ports including a white that was sweeter and more interesting than I would have thought.Afterwards we had my favorite stop of the tour Where we tried the infamous bifana, a slow cooked pork sandwich flavoured with spices and a sparking green wine that is considerably lighter than i thought. ( the wine isn’t green, it is named for the region) from there we headed to the absolutely breathtaking Porto train station. Though Porto itself is full of beautiful blue tiles on the building, the train station’s tiles are truly a work of art with each section representing a portion of Porto’s history. From there we stopped at Casa Leandro a small cafe off one of the busy tourist streets. Here we tried a local liqueur with anise and a traditional codfish cake, from there we headed to the Wine Box to taste local wines (My first red of the trip, delicious! Also it as noon so I didn’t wait to long) and more ports. Tawny ports especially the longer aged were emerging as my favourites. http://www.thewineboxporto.com/
From there we reached our last spot, a tiny tucked away cafe just off the busy tourist area by the river. Walking in is like walking in to someone’s kitchen. Here we really sampled some Porto delights including a black eyed pea salad, olives, the amazing Portuguese bread, and a delicious meat dish which we found out afterwards was chicken gizzards. Sara, our guide had not only given us a great intro into the food and wine of Porto, she gave us a sense of the city.
So if you are so inclined to do this tour, go with an empty stomach and open mind and you won’t be disappointed. They say you should always leave wanting more, though I had no more room for food, I definitely have more room for Portugal and there is so much more to see (looking at you Lisbon) . So it is safe to say, we’ll be back.