A few days after getting back from the winelands of Baden-Württemberg, I was heading off to another, equally old but much revered, wine region – the Douro Valley. I’ll save the explanation of the dry wines from the Douro Valley and the Ports for Amateur Wine and talk about some of the food instead.
Portuguese food is not always refined, in fact it’s almost always rustic; but it’s more often than not delicious.
In Oporto, the gateway to the Douro Valley, there are some great little restaurants.
All my meals were based around wineries so Taylor’s Port’s restaurant at The Yeatman Hotel, one of the few Michelin-starred restaurants in Portugal, was of course on the list. Nearby was Graham’s Port’s hip hangout Vinum, which served a mix of tapas and restaurant dishes.
Another well-known name locally was Rui Paula and his restaurant DOP. The chef has another wine-centric restaurant inside the Douro Valley called DOC. As you’ve probably rightly assumed, they are both named after the appellation system.
The Douro Valley
Inside the Douro Valley, restaurants were harder to come by as it gets pretty rural. And in fact, to get to many wineries, it was easier and more time efficient to take a boat. But, thankfully, most wineries that are open for visits also have dining facilities.
My first meal was a light lunch at Quinta de Sao José, a winery deep in the valley which was really only accessible by boat. You can drive but it’ll be a very bumpy ride.
Quinta de Sao José
Dinner was at Quinta do Portal, a sizeable winery with accommodation facilities that also happened to be in the middle of nowhere.
Quinta do Portal
And later, I stopped at Quinta de la Rosa where their new chef cooked up a delicious lunch. Most memorably, there was the utterly delicious peanut caramel cake.
Quinta de la Rosa
As my trip was mostly about Port and Douro wines, I missed out on the city’s famous Francesinha sandwiches. It’s a steak (can also be ham and other meats) sandwich topped with melted cheese and gravy. It sounds sort of uncanny but is supposed to be hearty and delicious.
I did manage to stop at the Majestic Café, a grand old Parisian style joint, for the local version of Pastel de Nata, the Portuguese egg custard tart. And a much needed coffee.