Posted By: Bradley Walters
Good Morning from Porto, Portugal.
Our young, attractive, proud-Portuguese guide has been excellent. It was important for me when designing this journey to immerse my passengers into the life of the Portuguese so she has embraced this idea.
Last night instead of eating at a tourist restaurant we dined at a very popular local one. Its kitchen didn’t open until 730pm because dinner time is later as many work until 7pm so our dining times will be around this hour nightly.
The restaurant was in the heart of the business district away from the tourist area (which is next to the famous Douro River). The dining complex was huge – lounge/club on the main floor and two large, comfortable in style, chandelier dining rooms on the upper one.
We were served hearty crusty bread, with delicious, home style garlic olives. We then tried a variety of popular appetizers – oversized, different shaped, deep fried crusted chicken, seafood, pork, and salt cod. The main course was tender veal served with kale and pan fried potatoes. My selection was a melt-in-your-mouth piece of sea-bass topped with local olive oil. Dessert was a generous slice of moist chocolate torte cake served with pineapple. The locals eat plenty of pineapple as they believe it helps with digestion.
The local wines were free-flowing and bottles of water were continually brought to the table by our many servers. During the final coffee course we could pick the local espresso (larger cup than the Italian style) or americano coffee.
When we left the restaurant the adjacent dining room was pretty much full but that didn’t surprise me as our experience was excellent.
Dining time in Portugal is family time. Sunday lunch with friends or family often lasts 5 hours. You wait until the end of the gathering to wash dishes as its expected that everyone is to be seated around the dinner table during this very social time. Even though famous port wine is produced in this region, the locals usually drink it only during special occasions but drink red or white wine with BOTH lunch and dinner. Many of us selected white port as our welcome drink at the Palace Hotel where we are staying. I had no idea a white port is produced – we are so use to seeing red port at home.
My passengers were so pleased to receive their surprise, nicely boxed bottle of port wine that I arranged for their arrival in the hotel rooms. I think most of them are going to bring it home for a souvenir as if last nights meal is a good indication we will be enjoying many glasses of wine from different regions during our travels.
I slept very well last night. Even though the Palace is in the city it’s on a large parcel of land so its resembles a country estate that is quiet as can be. The bed is so comfortable and had been turned down prior to getting back from dinner. A sweet treat was placed on the pillow and slippers that actually fit me were placed beside the bed.
Today we visit various areas of Porto, pop. 1.3 million. We are all anxious to experience the local market and tour a port wine distillery.
I’m off to meet my passengers at breakfast. Looks like a beautiful day.