Delectable Portugal Cooking Vacation
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Delectable Portugal in Historic Evora - NEW
Évora, Alentejo

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About the location: The Alentejo Region stretches from the Tagus River at Lisbon south to the Algarve. Its terracotta earth is covered in wheat fields and bordered by rows of olive trees marching up and down the rolling hills like Roman centurions. Dotting the hillsides, white washed villages and towns appear, crowned by castles. The ancients left their megaliths, the Romans their aqueducts, the Portuguese a wealth of architecture from Gothic to Baroque. Some of the ancient arts and crafts are still practiced in this region today.

In the Alentejo region, the cooking and wine-making reflect the region’s rich culinary traditions. In the spring, the Alentejo is carpeted in wildflowers. In the summer, wheat, oats, and sunflowers blanket the fields, and in the autumn, the air is filled with the smell of grapes and olives ripening. This stunning area covers a third of Portugal, but yet is home to only seven percent of the country's population. And in the heart of this unspoiled countryside is the charming capital town of Evora, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The elegant town is considered a museum city, shaped as it is by more than 20 centuries of history. It was once the residence of Portuguese kings in the 15th century, the beginning of the town's golden age.

About the cooking lessons: Portuguese cuisine is simple, characterized by a rich variety of regional dishes. Gathering herbs and produce from the local markets and pairing them with timeless recipes, cooks of all levels can roll up their sleeves in the kitchen and prepare a variety of succulent Mediterranean dishes influenced by this historic region. Olive oil, garlic, cilantro, parsley, onions, bayleaf, paprika, pepper, rosemary, leek, spinach, lamb, pork, codfish, seabass and dogfish are some of our main ingredients. Most of the vegetables com from our own vegetable garden, and local producers provide us organic food. Learning about the region’s wine is also a very important part of this program. Every class starts with a different magical tasting, and there are a number of excursions to local wineries. The chef leads all levels of cooks, who can roll up their sleeves in the kitchen and prepare a variety of succulent Mediterranean dishes influenced by this rich region.

Delectable Portugal in Historic Evora - NEW Itinerary

Day 1: Monday

  • Pickup from Lisbon hotel or airport and depart for the small town of Evora, where your home for the week is located. This small town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site full of Roman vestiges, as well as medieval churches and palaces. Every street in Evora’s center retains a historic charm.
  • Lunch in a local traditional restaurant.
  • In the afternoon, experience your first cooking class in Sofia’s renovated but traditional kitchen, which is located in a 19th century family house that has a beautiful courtyard with orange and lemon trees. The class will be an introduction to Portuguese gastronomy, and a study in influences and seasonings.
  • Dinner to follow based on your efforts.
  • Overnight.

Day 2: Tuesday

  • After breakfast, begin your second cooking class. During your lesson you will focus on the importance of fish and olive oil in Portuguese cuisine.
  • Today’s lunch is based on your culinary efforts!
  • This afternoon enjoy a visit to the Esporão Wine State, blending ancient and modern winemaking techniques. The grapes of this wine region include Periquita, Trincadeira, Tinta Roriz and Moreto reds and Roupeiro, Manteudo, Perrum, Rabo de Ovelha for the whites – all Portuguese varieties, as well as Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. (Some weeks an alternate winery may be proposed.)
  • Stop in the nearby village of S. Pedro do Corval, a popular local pottery place full of small factories.
  • Tonight, dine under the shadow of the 13th century castle built by King Afonso III in the thousand-year-old village of Monsaraz.
  • Return to the hotel and overnight.

Day 3: Wednesday

  • Breakfast.
  • Today’s culinary class will concentrate on local produce, an abundance from local farms and ranches.
  • This afternoon, tour Évora and visit the famous cathedral, Chapel of Bones from the 16th century, and the Roman Baths and Temple from the 1st century.
  • After a walking tour, time at leisure to explore and shop on your own. The town is rich in jewelry, items made from cork (hats, shoes, aprons, purses, bracelets, etc.), tiles, and much more.
  • Dinner on your own (Sofia will make suggestions).
  • Return to the hotel on your own and overnight.

Day 4: Thursday

  • Cooks, this is your day off! Today you will drive into the northern Alentejo and before lunch at Vila Viçosa, visit its Renaissance Ducal Palace and the historical Sancturay of Vila Vicosa, where John IV, King of Portugal, gave his crown to the Virgin Mary and named her Queen of Portugal.
  • Passing through the marble area you visit the historical and white town of Estremoz, enclosed within its ramparts and overlooking a vast plain of gnarled olive trees and wheat fields.
  • On the return to Evora, a quick stop at a cork factory.
  • Once back in Evora, time for dinner on your own and overnight.

Day 5: Friday

  • Breakfast followed by your fourth cooking class.
  • This region is known for its aromatic herbs and wild flowers. This morning you will use them in dishes that the locals have passed on through generations. Lunch to follow.
  • Enjoy an afternoon excursion to several traditional villages, and visit the fabulous pre-historical megalithic “cromeleque dos almendres” from 4000 BC. We’ll also enjoy a wine tasting at one of the oldest wineries, Cartuxa, located in an old Jesuit monastery.
  • This evening, sit down to a farewell dinner at a traditional restaurant. (The farewell dinner is tonight as some choose to leave very early on Sunday).
  • Overnight.

Day 6: Saturday

  • Breakfast.
  • Your last class focuses on the flavors of the South.
  • Lunch to follow based on your efforts.
  • Enjoy a siesta and a free afternoon to stroll, or go shopping one last time.
  • Dinner on your own.
  • Overnight.

Day 7: Sunday

  • After breakfast, departure transfer to Lisbon (center or airport).