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!
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.
The Majestic Café dates back to 1921 and still exudes a Belle Epoque-era ornate interior featuring carved wood, mirrors & chandeliers. The Majestic was a recommendation by someone we know from Porto, an old, beautiful café with a lot of history. I particulary liked the idea that JK Rowling spent a lot of time here writing the first Harry Potter book!
The famous francesinha sandwich from Porto. There’s a saying that to be a good resident of Porto, you must eat two francesinhas a day. Francesinha, or Little Frenchie, is a crazy meat-heavy sandwich made with bread, wet-cured ham, linguiça (Portuguese smoke cured sausage), fresh sausage like chipolata, steak, and then covered with melted cheese, topped with a fried egg surrounded by a thick tomato and beer sauce. Daniel da Silva invented the sandwich after having lived in France and Belgium. When he returned to Porto, da Silva adapted the croque-monsieur to the Portuguese taste.
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.
All over the island of São Miguel, you can’t help but find the white wrapped pastries with green ribbons – the Queijadas da Vila Franco do Campo. Koen and I had some time in the afternoon and decided to explore the namesake town! Our favorite way to start a city trip is with a cup of coffee at a local cafe. When I searched the best places for coffee, I was so excited to see that the Queijadas Bakery was open to the public!
Located just outside of Ponta Delgada is the A. Arruda Pineapple Plantation which you’re able to visit for free. You’re able to peak inside the greenhouses and see the different stages of the pineapple growth. Inside the gift shop we were also able to sample pineapple liquor and buy a few pineapples to take back with us. Yum!
I was really excited to learn that São Miguel is home to the oldest tea plantation in Europe – Gorreana. When we arrived I discovered that there is actually a second smaller tea plantation – Porto Formoso. The two are the only tea plantations in all of Europe! I was even happier to learn they both had free entrance and we could explore and sample the teas!
When researching the best restaurants on São Miguel, all lists include Restaurante da Associação Agrícola. Every list proclaimed you must try the “Bife à Regional” – steak topped with a fried egg, garlic and local peppers. Of course only Azorean beef is served in the restaurant. We were surprised to learn while on the island that cows outnumber humans in the Azores! That helps explain the abundance of delicious cheese! Because São Miguel is so green, there is a vast amount of fertile land and grass for the cows to eat. This results in rich, marbled beef for everyone on the island! As you may have gathered from the name of the restaurant, Restaurante da Associação Agrícola belongs to an association of farmers. Everyone on the island knows this is where you go for the highest quality beef – even the woman sitting next to me on my flight from Lisbon to Ponta Delgada recommended we go here!