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 yeard 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 palace and gorgeous villa above the fairytale village of Sintra. That's right... a PALACE! This is one of the most exquisite properties I've ever seen, and we'll be just steps away from lush gardens and world-famous historic sherbet-colored castles. Imagine sipping a glass of refreshing Vinho Verde on one of the property's many terraces as you watch the sunset over the Atlantic Ocean. This wonderful place is just outside bustling Lisbon but feels worlds away. The only adjective I can attach to this place is "Mystical."

During our week together, we'll immerse ourselves in Purtuguese lifestyle, much of which centers on food and wine.  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 at some of the region's best vineyards, sample our way through the local markets, and learn how to make sumptuous Portuguese pastries.

I have so many surprises in store for you and can't wait to share this special place with you!

* Price based on double occupancy. Limited availability for single occupancy rooms. A single supplement charge applies for solo travelers. Airfare is not included. A deposit of $2000.00 per person is required to secure a spot. See the tour terms here.

Reserve Your Space

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It took us two years to find the perfect home base for us 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.

We will be staying in a luxuriously renovated palace** or the property's gorgeous villa above the fairytale village of Sintra. Tucked amid the trees with sweeping ocean views, the secluded estate features pools, gardens, and traditional Portuguese tiles called azulejos. The villa and the Palace each have seven 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 give you the chance to enjoy moments of quiet and relaxation.

This property is full of incredible amenities, such as heated floors, fireplaces, Sonos sound system throughout, and high-speed internet. In addition, our estate features two heated swimming pools with an underwater sound system, surrounded by very comfortable  lounging areas with unhindered expanded ocean 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 in the Palace and outdoor grill areas, where we can cook some delicious traditional dishes.

You have probably heard of the world-famous Douro region for wine, famous for the deliciously sweet Port wine. But did you know that Portugal has 26 different 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, we'll definitely also 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.

Also, Portugal has a rich history, and we won't have to venture far to immerse ourselves in it. From a 10th-century Moorish castle to a romantic, fairytale palace perched high on a hill, Sintra is the land of stunning palaces surrounded by gardens. We will take a trip through history and imagine ourselves part of Portuguese royalty. 

Oh, and I'd love to take you to the westernmost point of the European continent and soak in the wild nature of this breathtaking coastal bluff that stands on a sheer cliff 460 feet above the Atlantic.

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 group meeting point in Lisbon for pick-up is: Hotel Lisboa Plaza. The drop-off location is Lisbon Airport. Pick-up time is late afternoon on the first day of the tour, and drop-off is on the morning of the final day of the tour.

We highly recommend flying in early and spending an additional night or more in Lisbon before our journey together.

A non-refundable deposit of $2000.00 US per person is required to register for this journey.  A single supplement charge of $1000.00 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 by personal check or money order.  See the tour Terms and Conditions here.

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 $1000.00 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.

**  All of the rooms are exquisite, yet optional upgrades to Palace rooms are available for an additional charge and assigned on a first-come, first-served, basis.