Portuguese Riviera & Wine Country

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They say that Portugal discovered the world in the 15th and 16th centuries, but now the world is discovering Portugal!  With its idyllic climate, dramatic vistas, rolling hills and mountains, lively markets, diverse cuisine, art, and architecture, there's so much to explore in this small yet mighty country.

Explore Portuguese Cuisine and Culture

After over two years of searching, I've finally found the perfect place for us to stay during our Culinary Tour. Our home for the week is in a luxuriously renovated private estate, complete with a gorgeous Palacio and stunning villa above the fairytale village of Sintra. This is one of the most exquisite properties I've ever seen, and we'll be just steps away from lush gardens, world-famous historic sherbet-colored castles, and UNESCO Heritage Sites. This wonderful place is just outside bustling Lisbon but feels worlds away. Imagine sipping a glass of refreshing Vinho Verde on one of our home's many terraces as the sun sets over the Atlantic Ocean. The only adjective I can attach to this place is "Mystical."

This tour has something for everyone and we will be perfectly situated to immerse ourselves in some of the best that Portugal has to offer. From a 10th-century Moorish castle to a romantic to a fairytale palace perched high on a hill and the awe-inspiring gardens of Quinta Da Regaleira, Sintra is a land of stunning and impeccably preserved cultural landmarks and lush scenery. Prepare to take a trip through history and imagine yourself as part of Portuguese royalty!  

During our week together, we'll immerse ourselves in the Portuguese lifestyle, much of which revolves around sharing a fabulous meal with friends and family. Don't be surprised to join locals for a four-hour lunch while discussing what's for dinner! From the influence of the North African Moors through the use of spices collected by Portuguese explorers in search of new international trade routes, Portugal's cuisine reflects a history of global travel. These influences, along with their fertile land and the sea, have inspired Portuguese cooking for centuries, and it is simply delicious. 

This area is ideally suited for wine and food lovers like us, and in addition to our hands-on cooking classes, my Portuguese friends and I have some extraordinary excursions in store for you. We'll taste the region's best wines, sample our way through the local markets, and learn how to make sumptuous Portuguese savory dishes and pastries at a gastronomic food lab in the scenic seaside village of Cascais. Then we'll head to one of the region's boutique vineyards for a tour, tasting and exquisite farm to table lunch.

If you like food, wine and culture sprinkled with an intriguing history and stunning landscapes, this trip is for you. Our week will be full of surprises and I can't wait to share this special place with you!

* Price is per person and based on double occupancy.  A single supplement charge applies for solo travelers. Please inquire about availability for a room with two separate beds.  Airfare is not included. A deposit of $2000.00 per person is required to secure a spot. See the tour terms here and scroll down for all of the details.

 

Reserve Your Space

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It took us two years to find the perfect home base to explore magical Portugal. You will live like the 16th-century Portuguese royals who escaped the heat of Lisbon's summers for the cool ocean breezes and deep green forests of Sintra. The entire village is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and we'll stay at a breathtaking private estate perched above this fairytale village, offering sweeping views of the sea and luxurious touches throughout! 

Quinta da Bella Vista features well-appointed rooms and suites in a luxuriously renovated Palacio and gorgeous villa. Tucked amid the trees with stunning views, the secluded estate features pools, gardens, and traditional Portuguese tiles called azulejos.  The villa and the Palace have beautifully furnished rooms with private en suite bathrooms. Communal sitting rooms feature a delightful mix of colorful contemporary art and traditional furnishings. Private balconies and tucked-away outdoor sitting areas will allow you to enjoy quiet moments and relaxation.  All rooms and suites on this property are beautiful, but some are even more exquisite and spacious, with amazing views and decadent appointments. If you are interested in one of these upgraded accommodations, please inquire about availability.

In addition, this property has incredible amenities like heated floors, fireplaces, a Sonos sound system, and high-speed internet.  The estate also features two swimming pools (one with an underwater sound system!) that are surrounded by comfortable lounging areas and expansive ocean and sunset views. There are also Adirondack chairs around cozy fire pits where we can relax in the evening. Of course, we'll have an extraordinary kitchen and outdoor grill area where we'll create delicious traditional dishes while taking in the stunning views from the Palacio.

This lovingly renovated estate also has a fascinating history.  Quinta da Bella Vista was formerly the property of the famous British writer and father of "Sherlock Holmes," Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle, who lived with his family starting in 1890. Annette, the sister of Sir Arthur, and his youngest son, Adrian, were almost permanent residents in the early 1950s. Local legend has it that "The Hounds of Baskerville" were, in fact, inspired during Sir Arthur's stay at the estate! After his father's death, Adrian continued authoring some Sherlock Holmes books and painting in the tower of the Palacio, which served as his studio because of the abundance of light from all directions.

Quinta da Bella Vista was a regular gathering spot for celebrities of the time, such as Sir Francis Cook, the First Viscount of Monserrate (and former owner of Palacio Monserrate and of Quinta da Bella Vista), the South African poet Roy Campbell, the American actress Gloria Swanson, and Pierre Schlumberger, a French oil tycoon and heir to one of the world's greatest fortunes. Today, this tradition continues, and the incredible staff at this property make sure to give everyone the VIP treatment!

If you want a virtual tour, please follow the link here!

This tour offers something for everyone and we will be perfectly situated to immerse ourselves in some of the best that Portugal has to offer-- starting with Sintra!  Located at the extreme west of the Iberian Peninsula and a few kilometres away from the Atlantic Ocean, we'll be just minutes away from an exceptional mixture of natural and cultural sites. Seen from a distance, Sintra gives the impression of an essentially natural landscape that is distinct from its surroundings: a small chain of forested granite mountains rising over the hilly rural landscape. When seen from closer at hand, the Serra reveals a surprisingly rich cultural evidence spanning over several centuries of Portugal's history and we won't have to venture far to immerse ourselves in it. 

Oh, and then there's the wine.  You have probably heard of the world-famous Douro region for wine, famous for the unctiously delicious Port. But did you know that Portugal has 26 distinct DOCs? You will learn about the extraordinary diversity of Portuguese wines, including some of the 250 native grape varieties. Lucky for us, we'll be ideally situated to visit some of the best of these gems. In fact, one of the most dynamic and varied regions is a strip that runs from Lisbon northward along the coast. We'll sample the area's diverse collection, from light-bodied, citrus, and age-worthy white wines made with Arruda or golden-colored, full-bodied white wines in an oxidative style made with Malvasia Fina grown on the beach cliffs to the concentrated, high tannin red wines made with Castelão, Alfrocheiro. 

While I don't want to spoil all of the surprises in our itinerary, I can't wait to take you to the scenic seaside village of Caiscais.  You will not believe your eyes when you see the marketplace where the locals shop for the best local ingredients!  We can also head into the market's gastronomic food lab to learn how to make Portuguese savory dishes and pastries.  Or we could learn how some local specialties, like Convent pastries (Doçaria Conventual), are made. As the name implies, conventual sweets were made by nuns who lived in the Portuguese convents and monasteries. They are usually made from sugar and egg yolks as the egg whites were used to starch the nuns' habits and as a white wine filter!  And I can't wait to see your expression when you taste the region's most popular pastry-- the amazing egg custards called Pasteis de Nata.  

The Portuguese are also known for their beautiful tiles. Known locally as azulejos, a word from the Arabic Al-zuleique, meaning "small smooth and polished stone," Portuguese kings started using them to decorate their palaces in the 15th century, so we should visit a studio that has been producing them since the 1800s.

One thing is sure, Portugal offers something for everyone, and we'll be sure to see some of the best!

For our hands-on cooking classes, we'll have a gorgeous supply of locally grown fresh organic fruits, herbs and vegetables, and delicious Portuguese olive oil. In addition, this area has phenomenal seafood, cured meats, and cheese, and we'll use them to prepare some of the region's favorite traditional and seasonal dishes.

Once we have our ingredients, we can head into our spacious, well-equipped kitchen or outdoor grilling areas to cook.  The main kitchen where we will be cooking is a dream kitchen, where we can  prepare meals on the stunning LaCanche range that can only be described as a work of art. Even the enormous sink is made of marble! 

We'll start with traditional classics, like Red Pepper, Tomato, Garlic Soup, broad beans stewed with local chorizo, and a Honey Olive Oil Cake.  And we should steam clams in a cataplana- a pot shaped like a clam with a hinged lid that locks in all the precious juices. When it's ready, we'll open it up to release the intoxicating steam that smells of the sea!  Another day, we should make Portuguese empanadas and seafood rice. Then we can have an almond or orange flan with Madeira for the grand finale. Yet it may be hard to concentrate on our cooking when you have such an amazing view out to the sea!

Of course, we'll pair our creations with some beautiful local wine and gather around the table for a leisurely meal together. 

The price for this private tour is based on a minimum of sixteen (16) participants.  In the event the tour does not receive the minimum number of participants, the total cost for the tour will be divided by the number of participants. Alternatively, the tour can be made available to the public in an effort to fill the remaining spaces.

A non-refundable deposit of $2000.00 US per person is required to register for this tour.  A single supplement charge of $1500.00 US applies for solo travelers. Accommodations, cooking classes, excursions and day trips, wine and tastings, and meals (with the exclusion of one) are included. Airfare is not included in the package price. Final payments are to be made at least 120 days in advance of the tour commencement. To avoid a surcharge, final balances can be paid by check, money order or bank transfer.  See the tour Terms and Conditions here.

We strongly recommended that participants obtain travel insurance.  Please note that travel insurance policies and their provisions vary greatly.

Please note that while all of the rooms are exquisite, yet optional upgraded rooms are available for an additional charge and assigned on a first-come, first-served, basis.

Group Transfers:
The group meeting point in Lisbon for pick-up is:  Hotel Lisboa Plaza. Our driver will meet the group for pick up at approximately 4:30pm on the first day of the tour. Precise timing of the group transfer to the property will be confirmed in advance of the tour dates. On the final day, our driver will meet the group for a return transfer to Lisbon Airport at approximately 9:00am. 

We highly recommend flying in early and spending an additional night or more in Lisbon before our journey together. This will help you adjust to the time differences and provide a buffer from any travel delays.  Additionally, Lisbon is a wonderful city to explore!

We are committed to following Federal, State, and local health guidelines to the best of our ability during this tour.

* Price based on double occupancy; single supplement charge of $1500.00 US applies for solo travelers. Limited availability for single occupancy rooms. Airfare is not included. Deposit of $2000.00 US per person is required to secure a spot.


Included:

Limited group size and carefully curated itinerary
Meals- breakfast, lunch and dinner (one exception) with wine
Accommodations for 6 nights
Hands on and demonstration cooking classes
Excurions, day trips and multilingual guides
Tastings
Transportation during the tour
Group transfer from Meeting point in Lisbon to our Estate, and group transfer back to Lisbon Airport at the conclusion of the tour

Not Included:

Airfare is not included in the package price.
One meal at a special location (optional)
Tips for services and hospitality
Trip insurance (optional, yet highly recommended)