Overview - Portugal – (New!) Family, Culture, Wine & Cooking
Overview - Portugal – (New!) Family, Culture, Wine & Cooking
Meet the proud people of Northern Portugal and share with them, their daily lives, culture and traditions.
A NEW IMMERSIVE CDV VACATION
Your 8-Day, 7-Night All Inclusive* Vacation will consist of a small group of about 16 or fewer guests, all staying in private accommodations at a Luxury Hotel in Viana do Castelo, Portugal. This will be our home-base for a week full of local immersion into a culture that has roots as far back as any in Europe. Once, one of the richest and most powerful countries in the world, the Portuguese people carry on their proud heritage and welcoming hospitality with a passion and sincerity that is as genuine as it is true.
You will be part of a unique vacation experience where you will make memories with new friends that will last a lifetime. You will live like a local, meeting the people that preserve the traditions and culture of this historic area. You will have delicious meals at your cooking classes and at local establishments, as well as in private homes.
Our excursions to wineries will be with small-production, local wine-makers that will share their passion and knowledge about their fantastic, regional wines, including Vinho Verde, Douro Reds and Port wines. Your cooking classes are with local family-run restaurant owners and local families that carry on the traditions of their parents and grandparents.
Set in Northern Portugal in the quaint seaside village of Viana do Castelo, we found the perfect backdrop and accommodations from which to base our vacation week. At the Hotel Feel Viana, we find comfort and beauty in a relaxing location set in a nature preserve fronting the Atlantic Coast and the beaches of the Cabedelo Bay. The hotel amenities include spa and wellness treatments, swimming pool and sauna as well as water and land sporting opportunities. The restaurant features wonderful local cuisine in their dining area that faces the sea, with indoor or terrace seating. Think Palazzo Seneca in Norcia, only it’s at the coast.
While it would be amazing to spend the week entirely at the hotel, we still want to explore the area, experience the local customs, cultures, traditions, food and wine…So we must head out on some fabulous excursions and make some delicious meals at our cooking classes.
About Our Portuguese Cooking Classes
We will be cooking with locals – just as the locals do it. All our cooking classes are all hands-on, made-from-scratch affairs where you participate as much as you want. With our local chef and restaurant owner, Mina, we’ll be having two, full-course lessons of local-regional fare, taught at her home, just a few minutes’ walk from our hotel. We’ll be making dishes such as, Foladho de Alheira, Bacalhau Nassa Moda, Pastaniscas and Vinho Verde Rabanadas, just to name a few…
Another lesson will be a specialty bread-making class at a fully-functioning traditional corn mill using corn that has been freshly ground and milled for our class.
We’ll even be making a traditional Portuguese dessert, Aletria, at one of our hosted dinners high up in the hills outside of Porto at a private estate.
Our last cooking experience will be at the private home of our friends, Marta and Ricardo. Ricardo will have us all helping to make a local favorite in Porto, Francesinha. It’s an amazing array of meats and cheese with toasted bread, baked in a wood-burning oven until it’s oooey-gooey deliciousness is piping hot and smothered in the home-made-from-scratch, family recipe sauce.
Wining and Dining
Our cooking classes and the delicious meals we’ll be making and enjoying together are the foundations from which our vacation weeks evolve. That being said, another very important aspect of our vacations is when and where we can enjoy a fabulous meal or aperitivi together while we are out and about. We go to those special, locals-only places where we can relax, talk about the day we’re having, or just had, form bonds that last a lifetime, share photos of family, friends, pets and our hometowns.
For us, finding the right hosts, locations, and settings are just as important as what we’re having while we are there. We don’t just grab a quick bite and we’re off to the next great excursion. We prefer to take time to soak it all in. Here in the north of Portugal, we have been blessed with a combination of all of the above…See below!
Just like most cultures, the Portuguese love their local dishes and traditional foods. While they may not be as well-known as some other countries, they are nonetheless every bit as passionate about the sourcing of ingredients, preparation and detail to serving as they are about being with family and friends to share the experience with.
Some of our meals out will be at wineries where we will be the exclusive guests of the wine-makers. We will eat with locals in nearly every instance, whether at their private homes, or in the restaurants where we are friends of the owners, each meal brings its own unique and memorable experience. You will be amazed during our four-wheel drive excursion at what our drivers will prepare for us, in the middle of nowhere and from the back of their off-road vehicles!
Wine flows whenever you want and the meals are a wonderful mix of meat dishes, seafood, cheeses, salamis, and other local dishes like Francesinha, Cachorrinho, and the amazing, Pastel di Nata, pastries.
The backdrops for our most of our meals are just as remarkable as the dishes themselves. We’ll have lunch in the Douro River Valley, with its breathtaking views of vineyards and rolling hills high above the river.
Another setting will be at the private estate of our friends in Baltar. Their property has gorgeous views of the valley and mountains that reach far into neighboring Spain. Even the bustling streets of Porto during our foodie tour will be another memorable experience that you will be talking about for years to come.
When the week is over, you will not want to leave your new Portuguese family without knowing when the next time you will be coming back! You will have made friends and memories that will last a lifetime as you will have spent the entire week living as locals, with locals, and you can’t help but be amazed at the generosity and warmth that makes the Portuguese people so authentic.
The Excursions and Experiences
This vacation is about as authentic and immersive into the local culture as you could have. We are literally off-the-beaten path in many instances, and will be going to places that even many of the locals are unfamiliar with!
When we go to the Douro River Valley, most visitors go to the popular name-brand wineries that are so prevalent there. Instead, we’ll head to a small, family-run producer of local red wines, including his private, small-batch Port wine. Besides that, we’ll walk a few doors down to visit his neighbors for lunch at their traditional pottery studio, where they have re-introduced the old artisan way of making their special brand of black pottery, fired in wood-burning kilns that are built into the side of a hill.
When we do our four-wheel drive excursion, it is with local friends that do this all the time with one-another when they want to escape the city. They will take us up hills, over ridges and through the brush to get us to the special places that visitors would rarely ever get to go to. They have a wonderful outing planned for us that includes some fantastic aperitivi and dinner in a secluded setting.
When we visit a local artisan in Viana, he will help us make the cabecudos. These are the Paper Mache heads that are used in local fairs and festivals. Antonio has kept this tradition alive at his workshop in town and will share with us his talent and gift for making this wonderful and peculiar headwear.
During our foodie tour of Porto, we’ll stay away from the touristy places and eat where the locals go for quick-bites, shopping, coffees and desserts. Because we will be with locals that have lived in Porto their whole lives!
We’ll stop in Matosinhos and mingle with the locals at the lively “Farmer’s Market” to choose some of our fish, vegetables and other produce that we’ll be having at our friends, Marta and Ricardo’s house.
When we go up to the mountain village of Montaria, we will be treated to another family experience when we help a local woman knead and bake bread in her wood-burning oven. We visit a local café for a very special, only-in-this-place, kind of drink, that will have you saying, “I’m not sure what it is, but I really like it!” After which, we’ll return to our hosts private home for dinner with family and friends.
It goes on and on like this the entire week. You will have been exposed to a side of Portugal that very few visitors would ever find. And you will have lived it from an insider’s view and will not want to wait to come back.
Cities, Villages and Towns we'll visit
Our Cooking Classes
As always, our classes are full, hands-on cooking experiences where you can participate as much as you want with our local chef instructors. We have two, full-course classes at the private home of one of our chef instructors, Mina. Along with the help of her daughter, Rita, they bring classic local dishes to life, right before our eyes. But, it’s not only their cooking skills that they bring, their hospitality and welcoming spirit goes far beyond anything you could ever imagine! They know how to do it right, and we’d be surprised if you do not incorporate some of their local customs into your own lives once back home.
Our other cooking experiences will be at different locations throughout the week. These classes will be at informal settings, with family and friends, showing us their traditional methods of cooking their home-town favorites.
At Marta and Ricardo’s home, we will help prepare and make each of our own Francesinha! These are the wonderful sandwich-style dishes that incorporate several cuts of local prosciutto, ham and cheese all smothered in a home-made sauce and baked in a wood-burning oven. They are simply, delicious!
What we’ll be cooking
Two Full-Course Meals, based on local recipes. Plus, A Specialty Corn-Bread Making Class, Traditional Portuguese Holiday Dessert, and Farmer’s Pasta and Francesinha
Grab an apron! It’s time to start cooking... Portuguese-Style!
Everyone gets into the act during our first cooking class. This is where the guests really start to get to know each other, having so much fun, singing, dancing, drinking wine, cooking and enjoying some great food for our lunch!
|Folhado de Alheira - Stuffed Puffed Pastry||Bacalhau a’ Nossa moda - Baked Cod with Sausage, Onions, Garlic and Spices||Batatas a Murro - Roasted and Smashed Potatoes with Olive Oil and Sea Salt||Leite Crème - Portuguese Crème Brûlé|
We’ll head back to Mina and Rita’s kitchen to continue where we left off with more delicious local fare.
|Pastaniscas de Bacalhau – Fried Cod Cakes||Minho Style Rojões – Fried Pork Loin||Batatas a Murro - Roasted and Smashed Potatoes with Olive Oil and Sea Salt||Minho Style Red Vinho Verde Rabanadas – Minho Style French Toast with Red Wine and Honey Syrup|
Today, we’ll head to the private enclave of Carmen, whose family has been making this style of local flour and cornmeal bread for generations. It is all hands-on in Carmen’s bake-house, where we’ll mix the flour, knead the dough, prepare the loaves and put them in her wood-burning oven. The results of which we will all share at a family and friends’ dinner, here at Carmen’s house.
When we visit our friends at their private estate in Baltar, we will work with Antonia to prepare our dessert for the night. This sweet cake has a pasta base, but is made with sugar, eggs, milk and cinnamon. Typically, this dessert is prepared during the holiday season, but with special guests coming, it is like a holiday for everyone, any time of year!
During our Four-Wheel Drive excursion, feel free to lend a hand and work with the “chef” preparing our Farmer’s-Style Pasta Soup.
This will be a wonderful evening with family and friends as we all help Ricardo prepare our ingredients, make the sauce and create our own fantastic, Francesinha sandwiches. These will be one of the most memorable-delectable oooey-gooey meals you could imagine!