Thursday, October 20, 2022

Eating a scrumptious trail through Porto with history lesson on the side

Our lively "Taste Porto" food tour guide, Ines, walks us through a colorful market, pointing out a bounty of fruits grown near the city, and offering bits of history, architecture and favorite dishes. 

Bruce Keller and Christene "Cookie" Meyers
explore the streets of Porto in a pleasant food
 and walking tour with top-ranked "Taste Porto."



A GOOD FOOD tour includes small bites and tasty samples of the city's culinary offerings. It also stimulates conversation about local customs and culture, and answers foodie questions.

Cookie purchases a bag of warm,
freshly roasted peanuts at a market. 
Food tours are a fun, tasty way to glean bits of history and color about the place you're visiting. You'll glean tips on where to dine and shop and your guide will recommend favorite hang-outs frequented by locals. He or she will even make you a reservation for dinner during your stay.

OUR FOOD TOUR in Porto, Portugal, delved into the country's connection to its former colony, Brazil, and its use of fish, pork and beans -- staples in northern Portugal. We learned why Taste Porto is top-ranked by Lonely Planet guides, and has hosted both Rick Steves and the late Anthony Bourdain. The tastings were well chosen and the commentary was delivered by a smart, well informed, friendly guide.

Portuguese pastries are many
and varied. One is filled with
 savory minced veal, the other
with  warm chocolate.
We've tried a dozen food tours around the world -- from Tokyo to Victoria, Rio to Key West -- and are sold on this enjoyable way to spend a few hours, visit historic areas and stop five or six times for refreshments.
Food tours are less hectic than strictly walking tours. We often partake of these, too, because they provide a wonderful, two or three-hour immersion. But they can be exhausting if you're into a slower approach to touring. 
Bruce Keller tucks into a Portuguese draft beer.

FOOD TOURS offer welcome breaks where you visit with fellow foodies, taste the country's offerings, use the facilities and revive for the next foray to a new cafe, market, bakery or bar. 
Our Taste Porto tour began with pastels -- pastries -- at A Loja dos Pasteis de Chaves. We sampled both sweet and savory varieties of this favorite flaky treat. On to Bolhao Wine House, in a colorful market, for samples of fish and vinho verde branco -- the country's delicious dry white wine.
Portugal is famous for its delectable stews and dried, salted cod -- bacalhau -- as well as smoked ham and tender, slow-cooked pork, which we sampled in a small sandwich, in Flor dos Congregados.

TASTE PORTO promises its participants feel like they're taking a walking-talking-tasting tour with a local friend. We agree.  Our lively, well informed guide even found a piano for me to play in one of the city's oldest eateries, while guiding us through her artfully designed tour.

Cookie entertains at Flor dos Congregados:
 roasted pork, ham, sparkling red wine and piano

She shared history, architecture, culture, and cuisine with our group of 10 from Paris, Belfast, San Francisco, Munich, Idaho and Montana. Ines also  kindly made a reservation for us at a fado club the next night. We really "tasted" Porto, capping the tour with cod fritters and "naughty rice," espresso and chocolate. The pauses were nicely choreographed as Ines pointed out monuments, parks and historic buildings.
For food and wine aficionados, we recommend Taste Porto for its mini master class of classic Portuguese food and drink. Its three kilometers of history, culture and food filled stops.

Portuguese bean and meat stew is served in many
variations. Cooks can add meats and veggies,
but pork, sausage, beans and carrots are a must. 

Here's a tasty recipe for
 Portuguese Bean Stew

This traditional, hearty stew of red beans with pork and sausage is popular in both Portugal and its largest former colony, Brazil. In rural areas, the meat is slow-cooked pig’s feet and pig’s ears. A Porto friend adapted this recipe in his home in the mountainous region in Northeastern Portugal where the Douro flows in from Spain.

Ingredients: 2 to 4 garlic cloves, 2 medium sweet onions, 2 tbsp olive oil, a pound of boneless pork shoulder or butt cut into one-inch cubes, 2 carrots cut into thick "coins," one large sausage, sliced into thick rounds. (ChouriƧo and linguiƧa sausages make an authentic version, but smoked sausage or Polish sausage are fine.)

Cod fritters with "naughty rice" (tomato rice) at Popina,
where boiled eggs and red onion complement the flavors.

4 oz bacon, cut or torn into shreds,2 large ripe tomatoes, chopped, or one One14-ounce can chopped tomatoes, 1/2 cup red wine, water, as needed
salt and pepper, to taste 
1/2 lb cabbage, chopped  
1 - 14.5-oz can kidney or red beans
Peel and mince garlic cloves and onion, and cook over medium-high heat in olive oil in deep iron skillet or Dutch oven until they brown. Add cubed pork. stir, brown.
Porto's winding streets
 and classic buildings
are described in the
fun food tour stroll.
Add carrot, sausage rounds and shredded bacon. Cook until bacon begins to brown and render its fat.
Mix in chopped tomatoes, pour in red wine, stirring to blend.
Increase heat. When stew is bubbling again, add enough water to cover. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Lower heat. Cook 10 more minutes.
Stir in chopped cabbage, cover pot, cook another 15 minutes. Add red beans, bring back to a boil; cook to heat through and blend flavors.
Check seasoning. Serve with crusty bread or rice and favorite wine.

Porto's Arrabida Bridge Climb is world famous and we did it!

We're climbing another bridge.  Only five bridges in the world allow climbing and we'll ascend the fifth soon, in Brisbane, Australia.  Now, though, we climb our fourth bridge, in Porto, Portugal. The Porto Bridge Climb on the beautiful Ponte da Arrabida is a challenging  adventure for the two of us sightseers and amateur bridge climbers. On the trail of exploration, we climb in a small group to view Porto's historic sights from on high. Meanwhile, remember to explore, learn and live and catch us weekly for a fresh spin on travel, the arts, family, nature and more:
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  1. New Hampshire ReadersOctober 21, 2022 at 2:21 PM

    Trying the soup tonight. Great autumn meal.

  2. We just took one in Rome. Very enjoyable.

  3. Europe started these and they are catching on in the U.S. which is fun.

  4. Memphis Food GroupiesOctober 31, 2022 at 10:05 AM

    We love food tours. Have you written about the ones in Austin or Las Vegas? Loved Austin's and looking for a fun one in Vegas.