.: Missing Alentejo :.

Last time I was in Portugal was back in March for his birthday. It felt so good to see family and friends and marvel myself in all the food (we have so many hidden treasures, you can check a few here).

But now that everyone is going on holidays, I’m really craving for a holiday in one of my favourite regions in the world: Alentejo. As I can’t fly for a few months still need to wait for February next year (oh I’m seriously counting down!!!). but no matter what need to do a little escape to explore Alentejo once more. (You can see my previous posts about Alentejo here)

Places to Stay

Ecork Hotel

As the name suggests, the inspiration for this place is an eco hotel where they try to use of the best products in the region: cork! I love cork! Would love to have one of these bags!

 

For more bag inspiration you can check Pelcor’s website here.

Back to the hotel, look at this amazing view?

You can see their special offers here.

Torre de Palma, Wine Hotel

As the name suggests, it’s an hotel centred around of the best things about Alentejo, the wine! They have their own vineyard

Love this minimalist space

Prices start at around £126 per night, but you can check the offers here and the wine experiences here.

L’and Vinyeards

Similar to the one above, with modern architecture. Love this place

If you can try to get one of the sky suites as you’ll be able to enjoy the amazing sky! Because of there are almost no cities in Alentejo, most of the places are small villages and small houses in open air field, you have the most amazing sky, full of stars!

For all the offers and experiences check here. Rooms start around £153.

Herdade do Amarelo

This place, is a gorgeous traditional place, perfect to disconnect from the world and just enjoy the estate itself.

What do do in Alentejo

  • Loads! Ensure you get at least a wine tasting experience, but you should be able to explore some of the vineyards as well!
  • Balloon ride – that’s right, Alentejo is so gorgeous that it’s worth to wake up early in the morning and see the sunrise
  • Eat – Most of the places above have their own restaurant and really good chefs, but any small restaurant will have their own wonders. The food in Alentejo is just superb!
  • Explore – It’s the perfect place to drive around the coast and explore the gorgeous coastal beach. It’s one of the most beautiful coasts in the world, I’m sure about that!

It’s quite easy to see why I miss Alentejo so badly right? So looking forward to be back!

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.: Exploring Lisbon March :.

Before I start to share the photos from Japan, I need to go back in time and share the photos from my weekend away in Lisbon. I didn’t took as many as usual because I spend quite a lot of time socializing with friends

A stop for ice-cream, yummy!

As the weather was rubbish we went to explore a gorgeous place that my sister found, perfect for rainy days

And more sweets

For lunch we went to Time Out Market as there are so many good places for a meal. I went to Chef Marlene as they had a choice of octopus which I love

A mandatory stop for us is a visit to Brasileira for an espresso

Before I went to the airport, I had the chance to try the best pasteis de Nata in Lisbon, from Manteigaria. So delicious!!!

Looking forward to be back!

.: Home :.

After quite an emotional post here, time to share the photos from Christmas day.

Ok, maybe I need to explain what Christmas means for me at home. It means being all together, in peace (and although this might be taken as granted, it’s not always the case), and following the traditions of a lifetime and making a few on the way.

We start by celebrating Christmas on the 24th Dec Eve (Consoada), which is when the family gathers around the table. Before that normally means buying “bolo rei” (our traditional cake) and wrapping last minute presents. For me it means recheck all the stuff I’ve brought with me from London.

This year we had a Cod-war. This was one of the traditions we’ve decided to break a few years ago. Rather than having the traditional boiled and boring cod (see more about Portuguese christmas tradition here) we’ve decided to try different ones. Last year we had baked cod with clams which is absolutely delicious. My dad wanted to ensure we would have a good dinner with no surprises therefore he wanted to prepare the same. Not my sister though. She loves surprises and trying different food. She wanted a special cod baked in corn-bread. It seemed like a complicated recipe, and it really was. While my dad had finished dinner we were still half way there with ours. But it was good fun to try to prepare something together. (If you can read Portuguese this is the recipe)

Cod Nr 1 – declared the winner of the night – Cod with clams

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Cod nr 2 – It was really good and an interesting mix, but we should have baked the sweet potatoes at the bottom a bit better. I’m sure we’ll improve next time.

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My sister also did a lemon tart.

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We also have port wine after the meal (there’s always a good reason to have Port). Rather than sharing gifts on the eve, we all go to bed and leave it for next morning. When we were kids we used to wake up really early and jump in our parents bed with all the excitement of the presents. Nowadays it’s my dad that wakes us up. We had breakfast together than we pick my grandparents and group in the living room to open the presents. But there’s another twist here. We don’t open all at the same time. No. Tradition at home says that it’s the oldest that starts first and we all wait for each other. We all like it that way 🙂

After lunch as a family (yap even more food), we normally go out for a walk on the beach. The perks of being a south Portuguese. The weather, much like in London, was really mild and luckily quite sunny too.

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And I couldn’t resist photographing my sister and the new hat

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Next day it was time to get back into the UK. Once I was back in London, we’ve ended up preparing Cod for the 2 of us as well. So Cod nr 3 is a kind of a tortilla and a well know traditional dish (bacalhau a bras).

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How do you celebrate your Christmas? Any special moment or memory you would like to share?

.: Exploring Porto :.

Oh so hard to return after the holidays! I just had one week in Portugal in Lisbon and Porto. It was also a good opportunity to be with friends and eat loads (more than I’m used to!). But one of the things I was quite keen on doing was to take him to a Port Wine Tour. If we had more space in our luggage we would have the house filled with Port Wine. Seriously!

Although September tends to be a good month to visit Portugal, there was actually a storm (red alert) with strong winds (more than 110km/h) and lots of rain. On the day we arrived it was raining cats and dogs, but fortunately it stopped, but it was quite cloudy the whole day, which ruins our photos. You want to recognize a good photographer? Make him shoot in shitty weather. So clearly you can see which category I fit in.

Our afternoon was on Gaia, where the caves are. We’ve only managed to visit 2 as we had a dinner with a friend. I wish the afternoon was longer to visit loads more.

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Calem

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I loved both the white “Old Friends” (which we’ve bought) and the tawny. So delicious!!! Next time I’ll bring some cheese and chocolate from home 😀

Next stop: Sandeman 

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The store is gorgeous! Love also the student cape, in terms of trademark it’s one of the best within Port. I didn’t really loved the ones we’ve tried so we didn’t bought any. But there was still another visit left “Quinta do Noval”. We loved the LBV and the “Black” (Tawny). But as the LBV needs to be consumed within 2 days, we’ve decided to take the Tawny, as it’s also easier to drik and share with friends.

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Then it was time for dinner and chat with friends. It was an amazing visit and really looking forward to get back, hopefully with good weather!

.: White Houses – Alentejo, Portugal :.

For those of you that are following me for a while you will know that one of my favourite regions in the world is Alentejo, Portugal! Before I left Portugal back in 2010, I used to wake up early in the morning and explore a different corner of Alentejo.

.: The Food :.

Carne de Porco Alentejana

Amejoas a bolhao pato

Arroz de Marisco – seafood rice

.: The wine :.

Alentejo is one of the most wine regions in Portugal, I guess second to “Douro”, the birthplace of Port wine. But for an honest wine to drink among friends I can’t resist Alentejo wine. Unpretentious, dry and strong

Adega de Borba

Antão Vaz da Peceguina Branco

Esporao reserva

One of my favourite

Monte Velho

.: The landscape :.

I would say this is the best part of it all. After the amazing food and wines, it’s a gorgeous natural landscape

There’s also the coast! Imagine Rhossili Bay, Wales, but even more unique!

.: An experience @ Alentejo :.

It’s all about turning off your phone – but leaving your camera on for some amazing photos – shutting down and just relax!

Some examples below

Casas da Lupa

House on alentejo shore

Monte do Zambujeiro

For more inspirations and places to stay check here.

Looking forward to go! Tempted to go as well?

.: A Royal Brunch in Lisbon :.

Me and my sister decided that the best plan for the Saturday, providing we had a dinner booked for the evening, was to go for a brunch. After searching in Zomato I’ve decided I wanted to go to “Palacete Chafariz D’el Rei“. Sounds royal, doesn’t it? It really is! The place is really really gorgeous.

It’s also very hard to find. You need to cross a lot of scaffolding and little narrow street to get there, but once you get there everything transforms into a whole new world.

The little palace, also includes a small garden on the outside. Quite adorable

The view

 

We should have booked it, as it was already quite full. But the staff was kind enough to try to find and prepare a table for us. We’ve got a place in the glass room

I was amazed by the place already, it feels you are visiting an old friend that happens to be a royal. Really really relaxing! All the staff was quite young and friendly. (Not that I’m old!!!!)

Now for the food. We start with a fresh fruit salad

Breads, fresh orange juice and our eggs with tomato and mozzarella. Everything really yummy! Make you try the handmade jam, so good!!!!

Dessert was an orange cake, I loved it!

Look at this china, seriously, isn’t it beautiful?

Royal china

Coffee was a nespresso! What else? 🙂

We didn’t felt time passing by, it was absolutely relaxing! The best brunch I’ve ever had, and with the service on top of it, I’m sure it beats a London Savoy!

Tip for the ladies: The boys serving us were really charming and good looking!

So happy that I’ve decided to visit this place. Dreamy!!!

.: Another food day in Lisbon :.

On my last Friday in Lisbon I really had a great food day.

Lunch was in Sintra, in a traditional place called Apeadeiro. It’s really easy to find, in the city centre.
As soon as we’ve got in, we were welcomed by really friendly staff. In our table we had fresh cheese (ohhh I really missed this!) and some other starters

The bread was simply delicious! It was refilled a few times. For main I’ve decided to have the grilled squid.

Grilled squid – Half a portion

Yes, believe it or not, the photo above is half a portion and it was quite filling. Absolutely fresh and delicious! The boys had veal which was pretty good as well.

Still there was space for some pudding, chocolate mousse

To end our meal, we were served port wine (complimentary). I was impressed by the fact that they’ve left the bottle in our table, so we could have whatever we wanted. If this isn’t good service, trust based, then I don’t know what is!

Port Wine

Overall we left pretty amazed with the food quality, and the genuine honest good service. Can’t recommend enough! As soon as I’m back in Sintra, I will be back!

Dinner

For dinner, the plan was something really special. Both me and my sister went to fulfil a long awaited wish list: visit a Fado House in the heart of Lisbon! This was a kind gift from the Zomato team in Portugal. Thank you!!!

Cafe Luso is located in Bairro Alto, everyone’s favourite going-out area both tourists and locals alike. I find Bairro Alto quite a special place because all the classes mix here, poor and posh alike. There are really trendy restaurants and bars and somehow it all combines together.

Bairro in the evening

For years I wasn’t really a fan of Bairro Alto, simply because it’s always crowded. But I guess that once you live in London, crowds mean something different. And I have to admit it’s quite nice to have a drink (or more) outside while talking with friends in a nice warm evening.

I digress, apologies. Back to Cafe Luso. Let’s set up the mood properly.

I have to say thar Cafe Luso was mostly oriented for foreigners. The most traditional fado houses can be found in Alfama. Still I would recommend this experience to locals alike (it was a bit expensive though, 82€ for 2 people).

The space is quite big on the inside, the tables were filled with tourists, but it was a nice ambience. The “show” starts at 20h30, so we had been advised to arrive at 20h15, which is what we did.

The menu has a couple of options with pre-planned menus, which makes the choice a lot easier. I had the F which was octopus warm salad followed by a meat main.

The show includes not only Fado, but also “Marchas”, which is a Lisbon tradition in early June. If you are planning to visit Lisbon I would recommend you try to visit around early June so you can see it. All the city gets decorated with lots of colours and everyone eats and dances outside. Really good fun.

Marchas Populares de Lisboa

But the main part is all about the Fado. There were 3 main “fadistas” (People that sing Fado): a young lady (which was my favourite), a guy and a more traditional Fadista.

Marchas

So, we have a saying in Portugal which is Silence, we’ll be singing Fado. (Silencio que se vai cantar o Fado), which means a sign of respect for Fado. Because it’s so soulful, we get drawn to it and absorb every word. Maybe because of the drinks, some of the guys in the main tables were quite noisy.

Silencio que se vai cantar o fado

The food arrives as the show carries on. It’s served slowly so you can enjoy the show. So please don’t arrive starving, otherwise it may be a bit painful to wait for all the dishes to come.

Octopus warm salad

Main dish

Pudding was a brownie. Felt more like a chocolate cake than a brownie, but good anyway

We’ve decided to stay for the 2nd part of the show, which starts at around 22h20. They close the main room and the ambience becomes a lot cosier. The small tables get candles and the evening progresses on the more romantic side. Both me and my sister decided to have some liquors.

I really recommend the stay for the 2nd part of the show. I’ve really enjoyed it! We didn’t stayed for the end, but it was an amazing dinner. Quite an experience

Tip: If the “Fadista” sings really well, at the end of the song we say “Ah Fadista!”

After the Fado experience, we’ve both decided to go to a rooftop bar. Yes I know, I can’t resist them, can I? As we were so close, we’ve decided to visit Silk.

Silk is located in a gorgeous building called Espaco Chiado

And this is the bar:

(Photos above from google)

The view is really beautiful, but still it doesn’t beat “Rooftop Bar @ Hotel Mundial

I wanted a Portuguese gin, but they didn’t had any in stock. I was also upset that regardless of the gin everything would be served with cucumber. Not impressed with the drinks choice but the view is worth it.

So overall, it was an amazing day!!! Can’t hardly wait to be back!

Happy Easter! I’m travelling to Copenhagen for the weekend 🙂