Rosie and Griff in Portugal14 September 2017 – posted in: Rosie's Tips

Ahhh Portugal….Wow!

Arrived in Lisbon late but had one hour up our sleeve as it’s on London Time….handy as our flight from Paris 1.5 hours late !

Anyway, off to our accommodation in Bairro Alto (actually in between Chiado and Bairro Alto). At the end of our pedestrian street is a cute street full of bars and people. We had a nice wine and jamon snack and headed to bed early about 12.30am.

So quiet in the morning. Headed out for Portuguese tarts and coffee for breakfast. Cafe Chiado, recommended by our host Rolf, was perfect with fabulous tarts and great coffee.

Found the great Mercado da Ribeira at Cas do Sodre (Time Out) and decided to come back to try out the amazing mix of great food to take away or have there.

Our lunch destination is Bairro do Avillez, one of Lisbon’s renowned Chefs Jose Avillez’s venues.

We had a fantastic tasting menu here for lunch in the Bairro and decided we’d bring our friends Rizzi and Ted from Milton back on Monday to sample the menu in the fish restaurant inside the venue. Sadly, it was not as good as we had on Sunday and that was  little disappointing, but still nice to be with friends in a convivial atmosphere.

This happens everywhere, so I am not too critical as you can’t always have perfection!

Monday we headed out to Belem to check out the best tarts in Portugal. A lovely long walk and decided the tarts are as good at Cafe Chiado. It’s such a tourist destination…..amazing!

The ancient Monastery of Jeronimo  was closed (Monday)  so a long walk there and a fast taxi ride back to eat at the Time Out Mercado, which was very good, and simple. So much choice!!! Loved it!

Siesta and dinner date with Rizzi and Ted made for a nice last night in Lisbon.

During our visit in Lisbon we also ate some cheese made from pig’s milk (a first!). Here is a photo. It tasted a bit like a Comte. Not bad but doesn’t sound great.

So, our next trip is to the south of Portugal, the Algarve region. Moncarapacho.

We went via Evora, east of Lisbon, to a restaurant recommended by Gourmet Traveller.

The region is productive, leading onto a plateau with lots of olive groves and farming. We were surprised with the fertility of the soil expecting it to be quite arid and non-productive. It is the beginning of the Alentejo wine region and we have been having some very good Alentijo wines.

Evora’s regional red wine is a mix of Aragonez, Arinto Periquito, Rabo de Ovelha, Roupeiro. Tamarez, Tinta Caida and Trincadeira ( Tempranillo), but we didn’t drink many of these varieties. We mostly had the Alentejo Vino Tinto mix of mainly  Cabernet Sauvignon, Trincadeira/Tempranillo and Alicante Bouschet. Soft with a nice fruit palate and persistent tannin finish.

There were two restaurants recommended, but we knew it would be difficult to luck out with the 9 seater Botequim da Mouraria as we didn’t have the time, so strolled in to look and then went just around the corner to Tasquinha do Oliveira.

We were in luck and had the window seat, which was lovely. I don’t know if I would have picked this place if I had not read the article. (Thanks GMT…)

It’s a 20 year old restaurant and Senhor Manuel Oliveira is such a welcoming and professional host. We were only going to have snack but the menu was too good to resist and enjoyed a really good, full meal.

On our way out we met his wife, Carolina who has been awarded the highest food accolade, Maria de Lourdes Modesto Great Award.

A wonderful encounter.

With a full tummy, we headed out for a 2.5 hour drive….very satisfied.

Moncarapacho seemed to come up quickly and we were thrilled to drive into our lovely resort style accommodation. A bit of an oasis in the dry soil area. Green lawns and lots of lovely landscaping. White on white buildings… that!

The staff were amazingly friendly and we settled in very nicely to our room, and immediately headed to the pool for a refreshing dip. So good!

An aperitif and that was the day for us.

Olhao is one of the best fishing ports in the region and we went there the next morning. The markets are stunning and we had grilled sardines for a light lunch…so perfect. The village is really cute. Lots of white wall and tiles in the streets behind the main drag. There are lots of beaches in the area but we opted to spend the late afternoon with a swim and a siesta at Villa Monte, with a simple meal in the gardens for dinner. Perfect.

Same, same the next day but with a trip to pick up the car in Spain….lost and very late for lunch in Huelva (and it’s an hour later because Spain is one hour in front of Portugal…!!)

We had to drop of the car as it was a huge drop off fee to drive a Portuguese car over the border. Not the best day but interesting to see the salt fields in Huelva and dine at Acanthum……..

Loved Villa Monte and would recommend to anyone. Great service, facilities and food…..The surroundings are stunning.

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Sevilla is our next stop…more to come !