To the rest of the world that eat fresh codfish, let me tell you that you are away behind if you never tried the dried salty one! For the Portuguese people, there’s only one type of Codfish and is dried salty.
The history says we have more than 1000 codfish recipes, but I guess we have a lot more. Every family has its own way to do it and then each region has many more ways to prepare and eat it. We love this fish, even raw. There are many theories and many ancient manuscripts that relate the Portuguese to this fish. The cod appears related to the religion and until today we can see it in some important religious dates like Christmas.
It’s impossible to separate the fish from portuguese history. From kings to thieves, the only thing that everyone ate, even if you were poor or rich was codfish. Today with the new world-class portuguese chefs we see even more ways to taste this national icon, and it seems that the love for this fish never ends.
I challenge you to taste at least three different recipes. From the basics to the complex ones you can not get away from the masters of cod: us! Try to eat it fried, cooked and roasted, they will taste different but at the same time so equal. Remember that each recipe of Portuguese cod is made with dried cod, but do not be afraid, we don’t eat it salty.
From left to right, these are just three tasty suggestions!
“Bacalhau assado na brasa” freely translated as Rosted grill cod, “Bacalhau à brás” and “Bacalhau à Zé do Pipo”.
Love me, love me not! There is much to love in Minho. Perhaps this is the Portuguese region with more icons worldwide. I am thinking of the famous “Galo de Barcelos” of the city and region of Barcelos, or of the heart of Viana do Castelo or even of the “Lenços dos namorados” of Vila Verde! In the month of love, you absolutely must know why this region has been in love with itself for centuries, and why love is always in the air.
The “Lenços dos namorados” or freely translated has “The lovers scarves”, are exactly that. They are not only from Vila Verde, but from all the Minho region.
The girls embroidered the scarves to their lovers. It was a kind of ritual, a kind of love letter. The tradition says that, secretly, after the scarves are finished, the girls send them to their lovers. If he is seen with it in public, it means that he is in love with that person too. The colors are always very brite and passionate as the love should be.Even today there are many girls and woman doing that, I like to believe that some still do it for their lovers but many is just to maintain the tradition.
This is another motive to fall in love for this reagion, and another thing to disover when you come to us. See you soon.
How many times have you wished the clock to stop, or could the seconds be hours? Usually when you are doing something that you like with all your heart, it will end soon … So how can you get the best of both worlds?
Get some stuff! Let’s start a mission to find out …
Let your heart drive you to where the winter days are cold and warm at the same time, where the sky has stars every year at night and day, where time will freeze even if you do not want it !
As you enter more and more in the north of the country, you will notice everything is greener, you will notice that there are fewer houses and buildings and you can begin to imagine how these people live. The frenetic city life has no place in these beautiful villages. Time has its own rhythm and soon you will feel it too.
My heart took me to near Amarante, Telões to be more precise, and made me discovered the Monverde …
…And the clock finally stopped!
The Monverde is a wine experience hotel. The buildings are in the middle of the vines, you can look all around and all you can see is the vines, the nature, and the sweet sound of silence… The hotel buildings are deeply integrated with the nature of the place and the main building is a beautiful typical old house with a nice modern touch. All the place feels very calm and cosy.
As you enter, the nice warm temperature will invade your heart. The same green colors, the wood floor, everything from the outside to the inside is connected. The staff makes sure you know everything about the hotel, they invite you to a tour where they explain absolutely everything you need to know from history to how you turn on your air conditioning in your room. From this point you are allowed to do anything you want. There is the Spa with the beautiful warm swimming pool, there is the bar at the hotel where you can drink, eat or chat with the waitress, you can do everything and you can do nothing. Grab a book, go to near the fire-place, or just sit and relax, you can really be calm and have your own rhythm. The clock is stopped, so for moments you just need so stay where you are “just for staying”.
The rooms are very comfortable, there are some with a bath but every room as its own spirit. Even if you want to stay a bit longer in bed there is a nice coffee machine to do some hot coffee, or some tea to keep you warm before you go out, everything of these is free of charge.
How about that wine experience ?
You can order a wine tasting experience, and this is a tip for you! You’ll learn a bit of everything about our famous green wine ( Vinho Verde). You’ll taste, and have the experience of feel the differences between all the types. At Saturdays, the hotel itself opens for everyone who wants to taste the nectar, but if you can order one for you is more personalized. All the wines are from Quinta da Lixa, the old producer of green wine and owner of Monverde.
In an early post, I told you how special and how unique in the world is the portuguese green wine. With so many fantastic things going on here, i get the need of being in the middle of the fields and nature and being here in Monverde is the perfect bond between the green wine world and the experience of a “no stress place”. I believe that in summer the things are a bit more agitated but even their the experience will be almost the same but with an outside swimming pool.
The experience of the hotel is not complete without food, of course. The restaurant’s hotel is open for everyone who wants to eat traditional inspired food. The food is tasty, the Chef tries to surprise you with the presentation of the plate and with touches that you didn’t expect. If you are staying there, I recommend you go dinner at hotel’s restaurant, you want regret.
There so many more things to do and to tell about this hotel, but if i tell you, I’ll ruin the marvellous surprises that they offer.
I know you will go there someday, you have to, if you want that your clock stops!
The experience is unique
The ambient is fantastic
Its good for couples and family
The service is great
It’s a 5/5
It’s A 24half first choice award!
All European countries have their tradition in producing wine. Each country has its own differences and that makes the wine very different between them. But maybe God or only the nature maked a small wine miracle called PORTUGAL! So we are a small country with 14 different types of wine-producing regions. Now think about this, some of this regions have sub-regions with different wine specifications so if you look at it we have a vast type of soils with different weather each, which make us almost unique in the world.
And we have the green wine …
Green wine was seen for many years as a poorer wine, especially if compared with the wines of Douro or Alentejo. Most of the production was local and it was almost produced in the Minho region. They say it is unique in the world, it has the traditions of years, the age of the vines, and the differences of 9 different regions make this type of wine very unique. As I said, some regions of wine are divided into sub regions, and in green wine we have 9 sub regions. All these different regions are helping with this traditional product, exporting the most remarkable wine to the world. The Portuguese green wine (or “vinho verde”) has become a brand of traditional and quality product.
Now the best part!
The taste is unique! Usually they are white wines, but you have some red and even rosé. They can be perfumed as a flower or more citric but they are all better cold than in ambient temperature. When you taste it, it will be easy to associate the experience to the region where the wine is produced. The colors, the textures, the “aroma” all of this will transport you right to the region of “Green Wine”.
There is a small amount of wines that has this characteristic: moving your mind to the heart of the fields where it is produced when you taste it.
The wine tourism is growing in every region, and the green wines region are not an exception. Some new charm hotels are constructed and others are planned. This way you can taste the wine, you can learn all the characteristics, and of course you can buy it. The green wine tourism is a young market in the world, with many opportunities for everyone.
There are many green wines you can start with, you’ll have to try and feel the differences between them. Look with different eyes to the ones that say “Loureiro”, and than tell me if you like it …
New Year new resolutions! If you are going to vacations, you should start planning it today, even if you just have some days off in six or more months. This is my small guide to a tour in Portugal!
Firsts of all, think about the weather!
Portugal is famous for the beautiful weather but unfortunately we are not Brasil. Usually you can get better days to travel in south and center of Portugal, than in the north, but if you are planning to come to visit us in summer you don’t have any problems because is always hot everywhere! Tip : in summer take fresh and light cloth but in winter, come with everything you can because it rains a lot and it can be windy!
Do you have a few days, or a few months ?
If you never came to my country and you have just 2 or 3 days, I recommend a big city! But if you are a “city person” and have more time, try to visit 2 or 3 cities. In this case, why visit the same Porto or Lisbon that every travel shop wants to sell? Start with Porto, than go to Braga, to Guimarães or even Viana do Castelo! They are all north cities and you can sleep and eat there cheaper and better than almost any city in Europe.
Now, to visit the interior, or some historic village, would be better to have a few more days than 2. In this case, start with a big city and then go to the interior. We have so small beautiful villages for you to visit and enjoy that you’ll not be disappointed. For this it would be better renting a car. If the weather is fine choose a beach too, at least one portuguese historic beach like Nazaré.
Choose you prefered landscape!
We have all type of landscapes for you to choose. We have snow for skiing, river for relax, beach for surfing and taking long sun baths, we have forest and countryside and of course beautifully historic cities! You have just to choose and go!
The Portuguese hours!
As they say, “in Rome be a roman!” Usually we wake up early to go to start working around 9. The lunch starts at 12.30 to 13.30. Although you’ll have restaurants that can serve you a nice meal almost all day. If you are staying in a Portuguese family home you will be invited to dinner between 19 and 20.30. But is fine if you go dinner later, around 21 or even 21.30. Remember we like to eat well for a few coins, so you’ll be surprise what we can eat for a small amount of money.
The most important…
We are kind and happy to help you in anything you need, just ask or try to show what you want. One of the things that we have proud is the low crime rate compared to other European countries. Usually you are safe to go everywhere you want. Just relax and enjoy!
See you soon…
Christmas Day is here! With it comes family, friends, biscuits, gifts, cod (if you are in Ou from Portugal!) And all you can remember! I love the Christmas spirit, but today I was thinking of a tradition that I used to see when I was a child. The north of the country is very religious, so there are many traditions related to religious figures. In many villages and small towns there is a statue or figure or the sacred family that goes from house to house. This tradition intends to bring these saints to familiar homes to be worshiped. From the perspective of some people, you can see it as a kind of blessing to receive the figure. Usually, the day after receiving the figure, you must bring it to the next house to keep the chain. This type of tradition is very old and the same figure surrounds the village houses for many generations. Another interesting thing is that it forces people to get to know their neighbors and there is a kind of community around this ancient tradition.
Today is Christmas day and it was the day to receive the religious figure as well. In this case it was the Holy Family. The statuettes are very old, and are the same for many generations. Tomorrow is the day to go to the neighbor.
So you are coming to Porto for your vacations! Perhaps you didn’t knew that yet but is almost impossible not come to one of the most fantastic cities in Europe! And if you are coming to this city, you really need to go to Leça da Palmeira. Why? Just because is near the sea, it has a lighthouse, it has one of the most beautiful public swimming pools called “Piscina das marés”, at night it looks like New York and, because you can eat the most tasteful fusion Sushi around here!
Let’s start with the dinner!
Sushiaria is a beautiful project that started with a small restaurant and now evolved into a great place to eat sushi, to drink some Gin and to be with friends. The service is real nice, everyone gives you a smile and try to keep your heart warm.
We start with Gyosas and, they were right on the spot very smooth and tasty. They have Gyosas stuffed with vegetables or pork and we ate both. The first one was very light and the second one was full of flavor with the chives giving the right balance.
For the main course, we choose, of course twenty-four beautiful and full of color fusion sushi pieces!
So what can i say ? If your eyes don’t eat this, your mouth will! The freshness of the fish is one of the main things here, even if you eat a small piece you’ll notice right away the flavours that are involved. The eyes do not deceive in this case and the color of the dish will go right away put a rainbow on your mouth! Be careful with that wasabi! I love the spicy flavour of the wasabi and usually i use it a lot when eating sushi but this wasabi was specially hot! (Red face with a smile here!)
We didn’t ate dessert but I was told they were very tasty, maybe next time…
Yes we need to disconnect. Put your phone on silence and start a walk between Sushiaria and Farol de Leça. It isn’t a small walk but I suggest you go near the sea, hearing the waves at night and watching the lighthouse growing until you get there. If you feel tired you can always seat and stop a bit or you can enter in one of the bars and drink something. There are many stories about the famous Farol de Leça manly because it is a hot spot for lovers…
By the end, and if you have car, (hope so!) go behind the lighthouse down the road, you’ll see New York right in front of you…
Going to Sushiaria is a great experience. In an early post I asked, if the sushi we eat is the real thing. In Sushiaria we can choose between fusion sushi or traditional sushi maybe this approach is bit more clearer to bring us the real Japanese flavours because you have a choice.
- Great Sushi
- It’s good for couples or groups, for lunch and dinner
- The price is average
- Great choice to go at night, but please make a reservation!
- It’s a 4,5/5
- It’s A 24half first choice award!
Perhaps it’s true when people say that great things come in small doses. Portugal is small in size but the people have big hearts. If you go out and meet some Portuguese guys and girls you’ll notice that our social relations are more about heart than head. So for me it’s easy to think that many times we have the same type of relation with other things, like music, objects or food. Think about it, “Fado” is about soul, about love, about feelings, have you tried to translate some Fado lyrics? Yep, you should…
And the food…
The food is something visceral for the portuguese people. Many things are made around a food table. If you have some negotiation to do for your business the first thing you think of is about a dinner or a good lunch to talk. If you want to be with your friends maybe the first thing you will think is to eat something somewhere. Even if you are in love, you’ll go out to eat something nice.
When you travel to Portugal, if you can understand these connections I assure you will get an even better stay. The experience will be complete if you try to be a portuguese guy in Portugal, even If you just can say “Obrigado” in our language. Try to enjoy the country and know the people, because one is the mirror of the other. (Ending with a happy face!)
Once upon a time there was a small village in north of Portugal, in the region that today we call Minho. The houses were made of stone and painted in white. The plazas were bright and beautifully old. The summer is hot and the winter is very cold.
Years and years passed and the stones are the same, the sun rays are still warm in the summer and the houses are still beautiful and full of color. This beautiful little village was born near the Minho River and it has more than five hundred years. Many battles were fought here to defend the portuguese frontier and you can still see some of those marks in the old castle of the village.
Vila Nova de Cerveira is special. The Village itself is called “Vila das Artes”- Village of the arts. Since the 70’s until today, this place became an important meeting point for artists all over the world, where they meet several times over the year to show their art. The cultural importance is huge for a small village like this.
Last year they dress up the houses and the buildings with crochet. This year they did it again! The village was transformed into a marvelous dream, as if you were in a fairy tale, with old houses made of crochet, trees with crochet juicy fruits and some mysterious characters standing around the village. Art everywhere for everyone to see.
In a village of fantasy, magic and fairy tales there is a legend, of course…
Once upon a time there was a hart witch the gods of Olympus wanted him to be king. He choose these lands to held his colony of harts. Many years ran. Fights and strikes, calamities that were decimating the colony, until only King Cervo remained.
Legend has it that in the Reconquest when the Tassel and Tidal Lords descended from the Asturian hills to the conquest of what would later be the “Condado Portucalense”, a young nobleman challenged King Cervo for a front fight.
And the old King accepted. The fight would be fought between groves and weeds and in a place where there were small ditches in the place of “Valinha”.
Tell us the “story”, that King Hart won!
He remained with the tribute of the nobleman, and from there, his coat of arms was the flag conquered.
But the Gods deceived the old King. He would not be immortal …
Tired of life, sick, in the loneliness, the old Lord died. And with him disappeared for ever the “Terra da Cervaria” (…).
Even today, in order that the “story” might not be lost, the arms of Vila Nova de Cerveira have a hart in a green field, gold-colored, armed with silver, containing between the stems a blue gusset loaded with five silver. At the top of the mounts of this Municipality, King Cervo was ordered to be built “in memoriam”, which in a remarkable iron sculpture by José Rodrigues testifies to the longevity of the “Lands of Cervaria”.
(Hart pic by “all about Portugal”)
How many times you passed near a local store or a local restaurant and you know they were always there, you know exactly what it sells but you never get in or bought anything there. I guess is there at least one of these places in every city in the world. Today I went for dinner in “Zé das Letras”, a well-known local restaurant in Póvoa de Varzim that everybody knows. These type of places are icons that mark generations for years and years. Before we step in, we already knew what to expect: nice Portuguese food.
The discovery experience starts once you step in. The big wood balcony welcomes everybody and you will notice right away that this place is much more than a simple local restaurant. The wood is everywhere, even the big old photo of Povoa de Varzim in the wall is surrounded of parts of wood from wine boxes.
You’ll be surprise with the space of this place. It’s awesome to come here with a group of friends, you can bring them all even if you got more than fifty ( perhaps I’m exaggerating, but this place is huge!).
This is a family restaurant, the type of place that have various generations working and this is like their home, you will feel it if you observe the way they work and talk to each other. Everybody knows what to eat here even if you never entered. The menu is all about Portuguese food, you have various codfish dishes, various types of meats and of course some famous Portuguese desserts.
We choose “Bacalhau à Zé das letras” – when you see a dish in a Portuguese restaurant with their own name, usually is a speciality of the restaurant. In this case, it’s fried codfish with a bit of saffron, red pepper, garlic, fried onion and fried potatoes.
The flavours are intense in this dish. You will notice the saffron right away, and then all the other flavours will appear, the caramelized onion, the pepper and the codfish. You will feel different textures in every bite. As usually in these type of places, the amount of food they deliver is very big, so you will not be with hungry at the end.
“Rabanada” for dessert (I couldn’t wait to taste it so this is just half!)
Rabanada is a dessert usually associated with Christmas. It is one of the many Portuguese Christmas desserts and every family eats it in that part of the year. In Póvoa de Varzim this not just a Christmas sweet but It’s a dish that is typical of the city, so you can eat it every year and every day! The recipe is almost identical in every Portuguese home but then, there are some small differences, in “Zé das Letras” for example, they serve the Rabanada with a warm sauce of sugar and cinnamon and almonds. More traditional than this is difficult !
Zé das Letras is a traditional restaurant, with tradicional food. If you want to taste some local food in Póvoa de Varzim this is one of the places you need to go. Try to go there at dinner in a weekend, for you to see the restaurant full with laughs, groups of friends and families eating tradicional Portuguese food.
- Tradicional Portuguese food
- It’s good for couples or groups, for lunch and dinner
- The price is cheap for what you get
- Great choice to eat between tours and visits
- It’s a 4/5