Monday, October 13, 2008

Porto, Portugal

The family standing next to the Rebelos, boats traditionally used to transport port. Now transported in tanker trucks

On Saturday morning, my father, the girls, my husband and I drove up to Northern Portugal to visit the Douro region of Portugal. Specifically, the port wine caves (cellars) of Vila Nova de Gaila.

For indepth information on Port, Wikipedia does has a decent overview and I encourage you to read this page here to familiarize yourself (and it saves this post from being overly lengthly).

Very brief, however, port wine is sweet wine, higher in alcohol than most wines. It is mostly a dessert wine (goes great with chocolate truffles). Some types of port, white and tawny, are served as an appertif .

I like to throw port into homemade marinara sauce and/or jazz up jarred marinara sauce with a tablespoon or two. I have also made chocolate truffles with it (Google for more recipes). I do, often, replace my cookie or sweet craving with a couple of ounces of port after dinner instead. Yum!

Porto-view from the restaurant at Taylor's

Poverty in Porto

Douro riverfront

Port wine maturing in wooden Barrels

It would be a dream to visit all of the Douro region, stopping off not only at Port wine quintas, but also quintas of some of the other wines produced in the region (Portugal produces some decent red and white wines and excellent Vinho Verde wines). However, such dreams cannot always be fufilled when you have toddlers. This trip was unusually challenging in that the girls each displayed undesirable and unagreeable behavior (brief, curse-free version) - so much so that we ended our trip a day early.

Despite chaos with the children and my camera settings getting switched around so that many of our pictures came out blurry, we had a really good time (and, if the opportunity presented itself, I would go back).

We took an early evening walking tour (much of the city appearing poor, with run down housing complexes and litter), a short boat tour down the Doura river, a wine tasting at Croft (I enjoyed the new pink port), lunch and a white port sampling at Taylors, and, finally, a tour (and tasting) at Sandeman.

It's easy to find port around here and, unless you're looking for vintage port, it's not to expensive. So, I only bought two bottles over the weekend. Now that I know what to look for, I will try to figure out how I can get a stash back to the States when we move next summer!

Dad aquiring a taste for port (he thinks it's too sweet) at Croft

Sampling of white port and ruby port at Sandeman:
Once again, Portugal came through with lovely touring weather, lovely sites, great food and, of course, great wine. We would have done more had the children not been with us or had been on better behavior (museum visits, more port tours and tastings, etc).

I am, however, grateful, every day, that my family and I get to see the amount that we do. I really try hard not to think about all the things I could have done if the children were with a sitter. It's so easy to get into the self-pity frame of mind and, at times, I do lose my patience with the girls and become selfish. I have to mentally "check" myself or have my husband remind me when I'm acting like a selfish brat (guilty of this quite often, I'll admit it!).

In retrospect, despite unexpected changes, illness, bad behavior and even canceling of plans, don't we all remember many of the good times, on trips, we've had with our children!


Jay and Amie said...

What an awesome sounding trip! Jay first introduced me to Port on one of our early dates (accompanied by a chocolate torte) and I fell in love...with both the wine and the man!! I hope you stocked up on a few good bottles for your stash - I unfortunately haven't heard of any good Port (or wine for that matter) coming from Kansas :)

Kristin & Jeff said...

You take some great pictures!! Glad you were able to have some fun. Great memories to have. I love reading your blog!! Makes me feel like I'm not surrounded by all this snow!! LOL

jae rin said...

I love port. It goes well with dark chocolate and strawberries. Once again, I wish I could be there touring all these wonderful places!

The Matthaidess' said...

It looks like you guys had a lot of fun! Ed and I tried port at a Portuguese festival in Boston (they actually imported it from Portugal for the festival). I wasn't a huge fan, but hey, I wasn't a huge fan of red and white wine when I initially tasted it, but now I love it. I'll definitely have to try port again.


Natalie said...


Port is pretty sweet. My father doesn't like it very much. Like Jae Rin said, it's great with dark chocolate. So, if you sip it with a chocolate dessert, you may find that it really grows on you. Also, I know you make truffles and Port/chocolate truffles are very tasty.