It’s our first full day in Porto, which just happens to be our first full day in Portugal, and what better way to be introduced to the city and to the local way of life than to take a food tour with Taste Porto.
Our guide, Andre, is one of the owners of Taste Porto which was established in 2013. You won’t meet anyone more passionate about Porto and its culinary treats and wine than Andre.
Loja dos Pastéis de Chaves
Our first stop was at Loja Dos Pasteis De Chaves, an establishment owned by a brother and sister team originally from the northern Portuguese city of Chaves. Chaves is famed for the production of the wonderful flaky sweet and savoury pastries that are so unique, they have been granted a DOC rating. So prized is this rating that the opening of of a store with the name Chaves, and the selling of these pastries requires inspection and approval from the authorities to ensure its authenticity. And wonderful they are. The basic pastry is made fresh in Chaves every day and immediately trucked to the stores where they are finished and presented. A great start.
Mercado do Bolhāo
From there a short walk took us to the Mercado do Bolhāo, Porto’s undercover market that has been in the same position since 1850. The market is full of magnificent fresh produce most of which is sourced within a radius of 50 or so kilometres from Porto. The market is being threatened with a major 2-3 year rebuild. Hopefully this will be done sympathetically and not destroy the great ambience it now has.
Bolhāo Wine House
Downstairs at the Bolhāo Wine House we met Ugo and his sister Patricia who have taken over the shop their grandmother ran for many, many years. They have converted it from a flower shop to one which now showcases small regional wineries and sells cheeses, olives, sardines and associated products. We tasted some delicious Georgette sardines served in a fresh extra virgin olive oil, with a local bread on the side. To go with this Ugo introduced us to a chilled white Moscatel do Douro.
Flor dos Congregados
And so to a 165 year old restaurant Flor dos Congregados which has been in the same family for three generations. It’s quite an unusual restaurant with the kitchen on the top floor. They are renowned for their slow cooked dishes some of which take more than 24 hours to prepare. We sampled a warm pork loin and cured ham bun, known as a terylene, which was simply delicious.
To drink, a sparkling red wine from south of Porto, added zest and bubbles to the dish. The bubbles cleanse the palate so you can appreciate the flavours of the sandwich.
Thank goodness this was a walking tour so we could at least make believe we were being healthy whilst eating and drinking!
A little caffeine zing did not hurt either and this was provided at the next stop on our tour, Café Guarany. Built in 1933, the cafe was renovated in 2003 but the floor, the lights and furniture are all original.
A short “espresso” style coffee or cimbalino as the locals call it has a great nose and sweet flavour. No sugar was need but a small little dark chocolate rounded off the taste. Very good.
Leitaria da Quinta do Paço
Leiteria da Quinta do Paço was originally a shop selling milk, cream, cheese and other milk based products. They now produce eclairs with the lightest pastry and many different fillings. We couldn’t decide whether the chocolate eclair or the lemon was the best. Both were topped with spoonfuls of a light whipped cream which the Leiteria makes in house. Another hidden shop that we may not have found but one we came back to the next day to try some of their other pastries that Andre had recommended!
Taberna do Largo
Our final stop on this Taste Porto tour, Taberno Do Largo is, like so many of the places we visited, passionate about sourcing the best food and wines from producers in Portugal. We sampled 3 cheeses, cold meats and 3 great wines all from smaller suppliers who take great pride in ensuring their product is the best available. we also returned here the next evening to sit outside with a glass of wine and watch the passing parade on the busy Rua das Flores.
The love and pride that Andre and the owners of the places we visited have for local produce is infectious! We covered a lot of Porto on this tour walking across town and as we did Andre told us about some of the small shops we passed and those that he suggested we come back to. I also loved that Andre was happy for me to share the addresses of our stops so you would be able to support these local businesses.
This was the introduction to a city that we were looking for….the history, the passion and the inside information that only a local can share. Thank you Andre for a wonderful tour!
Website: Taste Porto
Disclaimer: We were guests of Taste Porto Tours. All opinions are mine and mine alone despite the fabulous food!