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There always has been great buzz about Portugal among discerning travelers. Rich in history as a key player in the age of discovery, Portugal is a beautiful and diverse country from a topography perspective. The beaches are among the finest in Europe, and delightful towns and walled villages seemingly are everywhere. Across this beautiful country, a multitude of epicurean pleasures await. Some of our very favorite Portugal culinary and wine travel experiences include the following:

  • A Cataplana cooking lesson in the Algarve using a recipe and type of cooking vessel introduced centuries ago by the Moors
  • Following a day of port wine tasting in the beautiful Douro River Valley, a private cruise on the Douro River via rabelo boat, the same type of wooden vessel that once transported wine barrels from the steeply-terraced vineyards of the Douro to Porto for aging in the great port wine lodges
  • Lunch at the Esporao wine estate in the wonderful rolling hills of the Alentejo appellation, complete with local cheese pairings and tastings of estate olive oils
  • Basic instruction on how to cook fish (on the grill, in the oven, in stews and more). Nobody does it better than the Portuguese.
  • A restaurant-based cooking lesson with a top Portuguese chef in the seaside resort town of Cascais on the Lisbon coast. Learn about Portuguese cuisine and its history as you prepare and enjoy a four-course meal in this splendid setting.
  • Two words: Grilled sardinhas! (when in Portugal…! We love ‘em!)

The forks we pick up at CORK & FORK often are seafood forks, which is why Portugal is one of our favorite Epicurean Travel destinations. The Age of Discovery greatly influenced cuisine in Portugal and the rest of Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries. Spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, were introduced from Asia, while imports from the new world, such as tomatoes, potatoes and peppers, reached European shores through Portugal. As it was a nation that once interacted more with its trading partners and colonies in Asia and Africa than with its neighbors, Portuguese cuisine is distinct from that of other European nations. We not only gravitate to grilled fish in Portugal, but also to the wonderful seafood stews or “caldeira,” comprised of fish, shellfish, vegetables and a multitude of spices. Dishes with African influences such as prawns piri-piri feature chili and garlic and remain quite popular.

Portugal certainly is best known for its Port wine. Port wine grapes such as Touriga Nacional are cultivated in the vineyards of the Douro River Valley in the north. This wine region was formally classified in the mid 19th century. This beautiful appellation features an increasing number of boutique hotels and fine restaurants. In the south, just two hours east of Lisbon, is the vast Alentejo wine region, which is extremely new by European standards and is gaining a strong following thanks to the intense fruit flavor of its red wine that is more characteristic of New World reds. Ripening comes courtesy of intense summer heat of the Alentejo. Domestic grape varietals under cultivation in the Alentejo include Trincadeira, Aragones (tempranillo) and numerous others, while Cab and Syrah are gaining in popularity. We are bullish on Alentejos and firmly believe the best is yet to come for this appellation.

Please view our Sample Epicurean Itineraries and contact us so that we may begin the process of handcrafting an exceptional travel experience for you and your group of two or more.