Babette was recommended to us by a colleague for dinner. She had me at cozy little winebar, but peaked my interest even more when she told me they have a small but interesting and constantly changing menu and great pizza!
I did a bit more research and read that this is a chef’s favorite – that in the weekend you may find some of Stockholm’s most famous chefs enjoying a glass of wine! Babette was opened by three sommeliers and one chef, so it makes sense that wine is at the forefront of the menu. From Stockholm Food Stories, “Notably, the restaurant opened up in an old pizza joint and they have kept the pizza oven as the main cooking item – which of course adds an extra layer of complexity for Olle T Celltom when cooking the food. The pizzas are tasty, made with really good produce and innovative thinking when it comes to how to combine the quite classic Italian toppings on the pizza, and especially it is impressive to be abele to produce the pizzas in a standard pizza oven. One would have guessed that they like so many places would have flown in a oven from Naples, but no. This is your oven from the pizzeria on the corner.” So of course we had to split a pizza!
For our last dinner in Porto we decided to eat at Cantinho do Avillez, the more casual and relaxed restaurant of Chef José Avillez. Chef José Avillez is the most famous chef in Portugal and is most famous for his restaurant Belcanto, currently ranked #75 best restaurant in the world. Whereas Belcanto is pure Portuguese cooking, Cantinho do Avillez is Portuguese with inspiration from trips abroad. The cherry gazpacho and green bean tempura were the best!
View of the beautiful dining room before all of the tables filled up
Koen and I love gastronomic tourism – you really are able to get a sense of the city and culture by eating the food. While in Porto, we couldn’t pass up the chance to eat at The Yeatman, one of only two 2 star Michelin restaurants in Portugal (the other being Belcanto in Lisbon). Most notable is the wine cellar at The Yeatman. Maybe the name sounds familiar if you’ve been reading my posts – it comes from the port house Taylor, Fladgate, & Yeatman, more commonly just called Taylor’s Port.
One of our must-do’s while in Porto was taking a trip to the Douro Valley. You have many options for getting there – renting a car, taking part in a tour that begins in Porto, or taking the train. If you know Koen and me, we love taking the train (hence the Trans-Siberian Express vacation we took two years ago from Moscow and ending in Beijing). So any opportunity for a long train ride – we’re in! Plus that means no one has to drive and we’re both able to enjoy the tasting.
Koen and I decided beforehand that we needed to visit at least two port lodges, so after some research we made reservations at Graham’s for a tour and tasting (visits are reservation only) in addition to Taylor’s. Grahams is smaller and a bit further away, but worth it! The tour is smaller and more intimate, and the tasting is great value for what you pay. We decided on the Super Premium Tawny Tasting and the Super Premium Vintage Port Tasting – which means we were able to sit in the Vintage Room for our tasting.
When we decided to visit Porto, Portugal, one of the first things I looked into were visits to the port houses! I love a glass of tawny port after dinner with some cheese and was interesting in learning (and tasting!) more.
One of the largest and oldest of the founding port wine houses is Taylor, Fladgate, & Yeatman – more commonly known as Taylor’s – founded in 1692. This was recommended to me by a client who had just been to Porto. So we made a reservation for the tour and lunch at their restaurant Barão Fladgate.
Of course being in Portugal, we really wanted to spend some time doing wine tastings. Because Lisbon is a big tourist destination, we wanted to do some research to really find the best place and discovered Wine Bar do Castelo. If we didn’t know about it, based on its appearance and proximity to the São Jorge Castle, we most likely wouldn’t have gone inside – but what a mistake that would have been! Wine Bar do Castelo has an amazing wine selection and a really enthusiastic, knowledgeable staff. Before ordering a glass you’re able to have a discussion about what you’re looking for and receive a bit of history lesson from the sommelier. You’re also able to taste a few bottles before making your choice which we really appreciated! Definitely recommend if you’re in Lisbon!
Every couple of months Koen and his friends have a Boys’ Weekend. This time Koen was the host, so I was very happy to escape the boys and stay with Hannah in Leuven for the weekend. We had beautiful, sunny weather and decided to explore the Belgian vineyards of Hageland.
We visited the heart of the Hagelandse wines – Wezemaal (Rotselaaar). They have a visitors center in a 19th century neo-gothic building where you can learn about the Hagelandse landscape and watch a video of the winemakers themselves sharing their passion. We didn’t realized you needed to make an appointment and were lucky we were able to join another group!
For a late Mother’s and Father’s Day, we took Dook and Els to Sir Anthony Van Dijck, where we also celebrated Koen’s birthday last year. When Koen and I told his parents where we would be celebrating his birthday, we learned that Sir Anthony van Dijck was a favorite restaurant of Koen’s grandfather. In fact when Els met Dook’s father for the first time it was at Sir Anthony Van Dijck! So this was surprise culinary destination!
Day Four was our first day spent together with everyone. One of the big things everyone wanted to do while in Tuscany was to see the countryside, visit vineyards, and sample Chianti wines. After a bit of searching we decided on the Chianti Afternoon Wine Tour.