The sunshine has disappeared for the time being, making us wish we could travel even more. One or two countries, including Portugal, are starting to reopen though and will soon welcome back tourists. If you can’t wait until then, then why not bring Portugal to you? Kick-starting a new 7* Life series, over the summer we’ll be looking at the best food and drink options from selected destinations which you can enjoy from the comfort of your home, and we’ll be sharing recipes from top-chefs in some of the best resorts. So make yourself comfortable and prepare to have your appetite whetted as we’re all off to Portugal!
We begin our journey through Portugal in Porto, home of course to port. For the good stuff, look no further than Churchill’s – a boutique, family-run Portuguese winery making premium port and Douro wines. They were founded by Johnny Graham in 1981 and were the first new port shipper to be started-up in over 50 years. All of Churchill’s ports are sourced from Grade A grapes that are hand-picked and foot treaded in granite lagares, then fermented using only native yeast. The result is a uniquely elegant, dry house style.
In partnership with Bar Douro in London, Churchill’s have announced the ‘Fortify a Friend’ initiative: buy a case and send a bottle to a friend, thereby closing the social distance. You can choose to purchase a six-bottle case of premium port from Churchill’s website or a mixed case from the online Bar Douro Bottle Shop. A complimentary bottle of port will then be sent to a nominated friend. 10% of sales proceeds will also be donated to Mind charity in the UK, and CASA in Porto, providing mental health support to vulnerable groups in isolation.
From Porto we take a picturesque cruise along the Douro River with Scenic Luxury Cruises and Tours. While we enjoy the views, let’s enjoy a cocktail: Portugal’s Port Passion.
To make this, you simply need equal parts Port Wine (white), passionfruit juice and cherry juice. Serve over ice in a tall glass and you’re good to go.
Prefer a glass of wine?
Then try the Quinta da Boavista, Boa-Vista Reserva, 2015, Douro £38.35
Grapes: Tempranillo, Alicante Bouschet, Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional
The 2015 is just at the opening of its drinking window. The oak being well integrated already, the grip you’d expect from the Douro reds is there but notably fine. The fruit isn’t stewed but fresh and the finish has some surprising herbaceous character. A wine you could spend an evening without feeling you had seen every aspect of it.
Maybe you’ve still got a taste for port?
Then go for the Noval Fine White Port, £11.90
Fortified from Malvasia, Verdelho grapes, it’s a great golden yellow colour with characteristic aromas of fruit. The palate is sweet, thin, with good balance and good aromatic persistence.
Or you could go for the Quinta Da Pedra Alta Alta No.10 Ten Year Old Tawny Port £20.00
This elegant, rich and complex Tawny Port is made in traditional granite lagars and aged in old casks. Serve slightly chilled and you’ll be savouring the flavour with every mouthful.
After our cruise on the Douro we head south of the country, where we land in the Algarve. Our first stay is with Tivoli Hotels & Resorts who serve us Portugal’s most legendary sweet treat – the Pastel De Nata.
First created by nuns and monks in the Jerónimos Monastery who used egg whites to starch their clothes, they kept the left-over egg yolks to make desserts. This recipe was later sold to the eventual owners of Fábrica de Pastéis de Belém back in 1837 and these dangerously delicious Pastel De Nata’s have been world-famous ever since.
To make at home, you need:
For the dough (or use ready-made puff pastry for ease):
- 250g flour
- 100g water
For the filling:
- 500g milk
- 75g flour
- 17g Maizena cornflour
- 500g sugar
- 250g water
- 1 cinnamon stick
- Rind of ½ lemon
- 100g egg yolks
- 50g eggs
- Mix the flours with a small amount of milk, boil the remainder of the milk and mix in well.
- Make a paste with water, sugar and flavouring ingredients and boil for 2 minutes.
- Mix the paste with the pre-prepared flours and milk. Leave to cool then add in the eggs.
- Meanwhile, cut the puff pastry sheet into two pieces and place them on top of each other. Tightly roll the sheets into a log, from the short side.
- Next, cut the log into 12 evenly sized pieces. Place one piece in each of the 12 wells of the muffin tin. Dipping your thumb in cold water first, press your thumb down into the centre of the dough piece and press outwards to form a cup with the pastry. The pastry cup should have its top edge just above the top of the well of the muffin tin.
- Fill each pastry cup ¾ of the way to the top with custard.
- Put the tray in the oven and bake until the custard starts to caramelise and the pastry turns golden brown (roughly 10-12 minutes).
Tivoli Carvoeiro Hotel
The traditional dish of the Algarve is the Cataplana. You can get a real taste of the Mediterranean Sea with the seafood Cataplana created by Chef Bruno Augusto from Tivoli Carvoeiro Hotel. Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean on the Vale Covo cliffside, Tivoli Carvoeiro is a fully refurbished, family-friendly 5-star hotel in Carvoeiro. It offers a diversity of exquisite dining experiences available at its five restaurants and bar, with the Cataplana delivering an exquisite blend of flavours. You can find the recipe here.
Quinta do Lago Resort
When we bid our goodbyes to Tivoli, armed with our recipes, we head over to Quinta do Lago Resort for our next stay. It’s here, at the Bovino Steakhouse, that we fall in love with Mary Pear. She takes our tastebuds on a journey. Sweet, herby and floral flavours are reminiscent of the luscious landscape…
Quick and easy to make, this cocktail is the perfect after work-from-home drink.
- 40ml Gin Mare
- 20ml St. Germain
- 50ml Pear Juice
- 20ml Lime Juice
- 10ml Sugar Syrup
- Pear Slices and Rosemary for garnish
After our holiday romance with Mary Pear we head next to our final resort in the Algarve – Martinhal. This luxury resort is home to a very mouth-watering prawn dish by Chef Micael Valentim. Martinhal is a family-friendly resort and the dishes here reflect the traditional meals you’d find in Portuguese family homes, which evoke comfort, authenticity and a heartfelt welcome.
We conclude our Portuguese holiday with a trip to Madeira – an archipelago comprised of four islands off the northwest coast of Africa. Traditional Madeiran dishes that need to be tried include tomato and onion soup, tuna steak with fried maize, black scabbard with banana, wine and garlic pork, and passion fruit pudding.
Potentially the most traditional dish in Madeira though is Espetada and Bolo do caco. The traditional “espetada” beef on a skewer is seasoned with salt, garlic and bay leaves. The meat is roasted in a brazier and served directly from the skewer. “Bolo do caco” is the regular Madeiran bread, made with sweet potatoes, flour, baking powder, salt, and water. This sweet bread is crumpled into a ball, then flattened and cooked in a soft stone frying pan. It is then usually served hot with garlic butter. Side dishes to enjoy alongside these include fries, fried maize and salad.
Make madeiraallyear.com your go-to guide when travelling to this fascinating region of Portugal.
Make some room after your Portuguese feast because we’ll be back again soon for our next trip!