After finishing three incredible, back-to-back tours in Portugal and Spain, we have finally arrived in Thessaloniki, Greece for a short respite. We had two incredible groups in Portugal (three of whom came with us for a 4 day tour of Barcelona) and we simply can’t thank them all enough for such delightful experiences. Perhaps three of our most spectacular tours to date!
Our Villa in the Douro was a particular highlight for everyone. Its majestic beauty and expansive views over the Douro River were enhanced by its many private terraces, a lunch and wine tasting on our private boat down the Douro River and the gracious hospitality of the owners, Manuel and Candida. On our first night, Candida prepared us an incredible home-cooked feast in the Villa which rivaled any of the meals we ate in the Michelin restaurants of Lisbon and Sintra.
Speaking of the Michelin dinners in Lisbon and Sintra, however, here’s a little recap of the gastronomic wizardry we enjoyed at Feitoria restaurant in Lisbon and LAB restaurant in Sintra. At our dinner at Feitoria, the innovation of Chef João Rodrigues gave credence to the term culinary arts. It was indeed edible art, masterfully accentuated by the orchestrated service and regional wine pairings by yours truly (with a little help from their incredible Sommelier, naturally). One of the highlights was definitely the first course of sautéed Algarve scarlet shrimp topped with a sumptuous reduction of the heads of the scarlet shrimp, theatrically pressed tableside by our server through an antique duck press and paired perfectly with the 2011 Júlia Kemper Reserva, a biodynamic blend of Malvasia and Encruzado from the Douro.
At LAB restaurant, we were lead on a fantastic culinary journey, orchestrated by renowned Chef Sergi Arola, an alumni from the kitchen of the inimitable Ferran Adrià (El Bulli). With the guidance of our very knowledgeable server, Joana Santos Silva (herself, a published Portuguese poet), we were guided through an amazing 4-course dinner. A definite shining star of the meal being the family-style serving of grilled sweet breads over a bed of flaming coals. Absolute divinity!
All-in-all, a series of tours that we will most certainly treasure for a lifetime. Now it’s off to enjoy an exceptional bottle of local Malagouzia with some deep fried anchovies and grilled octopus with lentil salad at Ergon Agora, our new favorite eatery and artisanal market here in Thessaloniki!
[p.s. Thanks to artist Meredith Moench for the photos!]