Home > Bars and Restaurants, Experiences, Food, Portugal, Travel > Study of Port: Food and Wine Tidbits

Study of Port: Food and Wine Tidbits

Here I’m, continuing to report on my food and wine adventures in Portugal (here are the first and second posts from the series). Well, I guess “adventures” is really too much of a word for simply excellent food and wine experiences, but “adventures” put the things in the right prospective, isn’t it? Never mind, let’s just talk about food and wine.

On the first night we ended up at the small place called Restaurante Nova Europa. The place looked very authentic in the sense that they had a hard time to find an English menu, and our server spoke practically no English –  that didn’t prevent us from having a very good dinner. Most of the people at the table ordered some version of the local fish called Bacalhau, which is a cod. It was offered in different variations – mine had a lot of potatoes:

Bacalhau

Bacalhau

And as I often ignore food and wine pairing rules, the wine was red:

DSC_0724 Evel Tinto Douro

2010 Evel Tinto Douro

As most of the wines from Douro, this 2010 Evel Tinto Douro, this wine is made from the “classic set” of Portuguese grapes – Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz a Tinta Barroca. The same grapes are also used as a foundation for most of the Port wines, which are made in exact same Douro region. Good body, good depth, not necessarily spectacular but easy to drink and pleasant.

Now I would like to mention two of the very local products. First one is beer. I’m not sure how many different beers are produced in Portugal (I’m positive though that US microbrewery revolution didn’t take any roots in Portugal so far). The beer is called Super Bock, it comes in lager, stout and few other versions, and it is produced in the area just outside of Porto – according to Wikipedia. I only tried the stout, which was dark, rich, smooth and creamy. I have to mention though that it is somewhat dangerous to rely on my opinion about beer – for the most of the time I prefer dark beer and on contrary to many of my friends, I don’t find Guinness bitter. And here is the picture for you – the picture was taken by my friend Kfir, not by me – but he was using my camera, so I guess I have some rights to it…

Super Bock stout

Super Bock stout, as captured by Kfir

Next item to bring to your attention is a local sandwich (supposedly it is Porto’s specialty) called Francesinha. This sandwich is made out of two slices of crust-less bread with various meats (or even veggies) in between – we saw it on the menu in most of the restaurants in Porto, and it can come with steak, white meat, various ham cuts and so on. The sandwich is completely covered by melted cheese (top and all sides), and it is served with the secret sauce which is supposed to be some combination of tomato sauce and beer. I had a steak version and it was very tasty. Believe it or not, but I’m not always carrying my camera to the restaurant, so Francesinha is probably the only dish I regret not taking my picture of – but someone thankfully did on Wikipedia, so below is the picture for you, courtesy of Wikipedia:

Francesinha sandwich, picture courtesy of Wikipedia

Francesinha sandwich, picture courtesy of Wikipedia

And then there was Cufra. Pardon my little drama here, and let me explain. We saw the restaurant while walking by, checked it out on the web, and it looked appealing enough. Service staff spoke not too much of English, but the menu was possible to understand, so we all ended up with decent food – but the wine was more memorable. For the white we had 2011 Castello D’Alba from Douro, a blend of Codega do Larinho, Rabigato and Viosinho – very typical blend for Douro white wine, all indigenous grapes (Wine Centurions, take note!). The wine was very nice, with good acidity and somewhat similar to New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, only with less of grapefruit.

Castello D'Alba Douro White

Castello D’Alba Douro White

Then we had a bootle of 2009 Quinta do Cardo Selecção do Enólogo Beiras DOC, a blend of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz and Touriga Franca, produced by Quinta do Cardo. The wine was nothing short of being spectacular  – with the exception of vintage port, during the whole week I only had one other red wine which was on the same level or may be even a touch higher – but I will talk about it in another post. Dense and concentrated, with dark fruit, plums and blueberries on the palate, all very round with the hint of smokiness. The wine was so good for the money (€14, in a restaurant!) that I even got two bottles right in the restaurant to take them back home.

Quinta do Cardo Selecção do Enólogo

Quinta do Cardo Selecção do Enólogo

When we went to the same restaurant second time, about a week later, the menu was quite different, and the wine were too. But – one of the reasons for the second visit was the desire to try the crab dish we saw someone ordering during the first time. Considering that Porto is located right on the cross of ocean and the Douro river, it is rather expected that fish and seafood should be very good – and this dish didn’t disappoint (hope you will find the below picture being enough of the proof):

Crab and shrimp at Cufra

Crab and shrimp at Cufra

I can’t say the same about wines – there was different 2009 Quinta do Cardo wine on the list (about €4 cheaper), and while it was not bad, it was not anywhere as good as the first one. All in all, if you are in Porto and if you will be in the area, Cufra is well worth visiting.

Last place I want to mention (but not least by all means) is a restaurant called Rabelos. Just to give you some prospective, Rabelos are actually flat bottom boats which were used to transport barrels of Port from the wineries to the Port house cellars for aging. Nowadays the wine is transported by the tanker trucks, and Rabelos are only used to move tourists around.

Rabelos Restaurante

Rabelos Restaurante

Anyway, the restaurant is actually located in Vila Nova de Gaia, a town which houses all the port cellars across the river from Porto. It is located very close to the bridge which connects Porto and Gaia, right along the boardwalk in a place which in general should be considered a tourist trap. But it was no tourist trap at all. The service was outstanding, and we got great recommendations and had great experience overall.

One of the starters was local feta cheese, dusted with Parmesan and slightly roasted with olive oil (take a note – I think it should be as easy to make it at home as it is delicious, and as a very least I’m going to try it…).

Roasted feta cheese with parmesan

Roasted feta cheese with parmesan

Then we had beef carpaccio and shrimp salad – the pictures don’t do justice to those dishes, but both were delicious

beef carpaccio

beef carpaccio

shrimp salad

shrimp salad

Next we had two dishes made from Bacalhau in different styles – one was baked with cheese sauce and one was grilled – both were outstanding:

Bacalhau in cheese sauce

Bacalhau in cheese sauce

grilled bacalhau with shrimp

grilled bacalhau with shrimp

Again ignoring the pairing rules, we went with the red wine called 2010 Borges Quinta da Soalheira Douro Red, a blend of classic Douro red grapes, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca, Touriga Franca and Tinto Cão, made by Vinhos Borges. The wine had medium body, good acidity, nice red fruit on the palate, well balanced – perfect for every day drinking, considering you can find it.

Borges Quinta da Soalheira

Borges Quinta da Soalheira

For the desert, we had lemon cake (paired with white Port) and chocolate cake paired with simple tawny. Below are a few pictures – the first one is taken by me ( boring, sigh), and then two others taken by Kfir – I will need to learn how to really use my own camera…

Lemon cake, no excitement in the picture

Lemon cake, no excitement in the picture

lemon cake, now with excitement, courtesy of Kfir

lemon cake, now with excitement, courtesy of Kfir

extreme chocolate cake, as captured by Kfir

extreme chocolate cake, as captured by Kfir

And of course nobody can leave the restaurant without coffee, right?

Espresso!

Espresso!

That’s all, we are done for today folks. Sorry for all the pictures, hope you found them at least moderately entertaining. Until the next time – cheers!

Click to add a blog post for Rabelos on Zomato

  1. PSsquared
    May 5, 2013 at 4:30 pm

    I loved the photos! It all looked amazing. Kfir does take a nice cake photo. 😉

    • talkavino
      May 6, 2013 at 7:10 am

      thanks, glad you like it! Yeah, I need to learn to use my own camera…

  2. May 5, 2013 at 5:07 pm

    My mouth is watering! All the photos look amazing, I want to go there!

    • talkavino
      May 6, 2013 at 7:26 am

      Thank you! I think Portugal is one of the overlooked locations for international travelers, so yes, you should go there, but I hope not too many people will (we need to keep it a secret 🙂 )

  3. May 5, 2013 at 5:22 pm

    Wow, that was some feast! Love breaking the wine pairing rules too. Why limit yourself!!!

    • talkavino
      May 6, 2013 at 7:54 am

      thank you – I spent a week there, and dinners where at the different restaurants, all so good that it actually felt like I need to share it. And I love when the pairing works, but I have very little knowledge of Portuguese wines, so it would be very hard to do properly anyway. We actually had one dinner where the wines where paired, and it worked very well. Post will be coming soon. : )

  4. May 5, 2013 at 6:38 pm

    Thanks for sharing!!! I have to say, the Francesinha I was forced to eat made me sick…I really didn’t like it….but that’s tastes…:) The wines in and around Porto, incredible! We have a friend who is from there, and he has a gorgeous winery in the Douro valley…just awesome.

    • talkavino
      May 6, 2013 at 7:55 am

      hmmm, may be it was because you were forced to eat it… Nobody forced me, and mine was good ( cleaned up the plate). I hope to make it to Douro valley next time and really see the vineyards and taste more wine : )

      • May 6, 2013 at 11:28 am

        I mean, on paper it sounded alright to me…but the sausage was just grossly greasy…:) I hope you can make it to Douro valley next time!!

  5. May 5, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    That is quite a smorgasbord! Awesome!! I will have to try roasted feta . . . yum!! Salud!!

    • talkavino
      May 6, 2013 at 7:57 am

      try it – it doesn’t sound like it should be difficult to do – of course there are different kinds of feta, and the one we had was local out of goat cheese – that might be a culprit.

  6. May 6, 2013 at 9:50 am

    It all looks so delicious! It is so on my travel list!

    • talkavino
      May 6, 2013 at 9:54 am

      thanks! Such a trip will be well worth it – you will not regret!

  7. May 6, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    Looks so delicious! Enjoy your trip 🙂
    Never been to Portugal but Lisbon is on my to-visit list. And fortunately, it’s not that far away.

    • May 6, 2013 at 12:08 pm

      Also I didn’t know that the Portuguese make beer! I always thought they are primarily a wine-drinking country.

      • talkavino
        May 6, 2013 at 11:41 pm

        they are primarily wine drinking country, this is true – but they do also make beer : )

    • talkavino
      May 6, 2013 at 11:40 pm

      Thanks! make sure Porto is on the lost too : )

  8. May 6, 2013 at 9:43 pm

    Anatoli, sounds and looks like you had a wonderful time in Portugal! I am very happy for you!
    Thanks for all the great info re Portuguese wines: I think I want to try to find that Quinta do Cardo Selecao, sounds really wonderful from your notes.
    I also think I would enjoy the Francesinha quite a bit! 😉
    Welcome back!

    • talkavino
      May 6, 2013 at 11:43 pm

      Thank you, Stefano. Yes, that wine is worth seeking, and there were a few more which I will mention in the coming posts. Francesinha was good!

  1. May 10, 2013 at 8:40 am
  2. May 14, 2013 at 8:43 am
  3. May 14, 2013 at 2:58 pm
  4. May 14, 2013 at 2:59 pm
  5. May 19, 2013 at 8:12 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s