- Discover the joys of cooking the delectable dishes of Portugal’s culinary heartland, from rustic to refined
- Relax and lunch on the dishes prepared during the cooking lessons, accompanied by excellent local wines
- Sample great wines at two Alentejo wineries, blending tradition with modernity
- Explore striking winery architecture and modern art in a bucolic setting
- Discover historic Evora, the evocative capital of Alentejo
- Enjoy the beautiful and serene surroundings and take advantage of the warm climate
If you would like to read what our travellers wrote in their own words, please click
It is a short drive from Lisbon to get to the delightful Alentejo region which stretches from just below the Tagus River, in central Portugal, to the southernmost Algarve region. We think Alentejo is one of the last secret treasures for travellers exploring the cultures of southern Europe.
Alentejo offers great scenic beauty with its rolling countryside full of cork oaks, olive trees and vines. The hills, sometimes small mountains, are frequently crowned by mighty castles. Notwithstanding its appeal, the region remains unspoilt; it has not been discovered by mass tourism.
People are hospitable and the cultural heritage is vast. There are numerous charming historical towns like Evora, Marvão, Estremoz, Portalegre, Vila Viçosa and Monsarraz. The region too offers beautiful countryside, typical here is the Montado, a cultural landscape shaped by human activity over centuries. This is a landscape characterized by low density cork oaks and holm oaks in combination with agriculture or pastoral activities. The Montado might very well be one of European most exciting ecosystems, since it offers a balance between wild nature and responsible agricultural practices. Grains, grass, and acorns from the oak trees provide animal fodder for an abundance of game but also for sheep, cows and the Iberian black pigs – that pasture and take shelter around the cork oaks trees.
Given the local resources developed out of the Montado, local Alentejo gastronomy has traditionally revolved around home-style rustic cooking, reflecting an agricultural land where bread, pork, game plus olives, wild herbs and wine have been the pillars of the diet for ages. Cooks can masterly make something delicious out of very few ingredients. One should not miss the local gazpacho(s), green beans in batter (with the charming local name peixinhos da horta: small fishes from the garden) or the açorda – a dish based on bread, olive oil and aromatic herbs, with variations that may incorporate shrimp or a mix of shellfish. And of course, carne de porco Alentejano (pork and clams cooked together), a dish so popular that it made its way to Portuguese restaurants around the globe.
These days Alentejo’s dining scene is no longer solely rustic. There are smart new tables in the region, where young chefs offer refined cooking, and are blending classic combinations with contemporary touches. The local culinary scene is undergoing an exciting revitalisation.
The red wines are some of the best Portugal has to offer, as reflected in its success in international competitions. They range from soft and plummy – a great match with black pork – to those with an intense ripe fruity bouquet. All with elegant and balanced acidity. Grape varieties commonly used here are Trincadeira and the Aragonez, better-known abroad as the Tempranillo. In contrast, the whites tend to be fresh but very aromatic with the main grape varieties being Antão Vaz, Arinto and Roupeiro. The white wines too have been increasingly gaining their deserved international recognition.
In parallel with an increasingly cultivated Alentejo food scene, a growing community of young winemakers has emerged, pursuing a perfect balance between tradition and modernity. In some instances, the winery architecture has been gaining international acclaim, in others the winemaking facilities are balancing cutting-edge technology with 2.000-year-old traditions. As regards the latter, clay pots (amphorae) for fermenting grapes and storing wines are often still in use, reflecting a tradition which goes back to winemaking by the Romans in Southern Alentejo. The resulting wines are fresh and soft with balanced tannins, but still complex and with depth.
Our Cooking and wine tasting in Alentejo program is designed for people who love and appreciate fine food and wine. The cuisine here is wonderful – experienced chefs and cooks will teach you rustic as well as contemporary Portuguese Alentejo cooking – with an emphasis on local, seasonal produce and flavours. You will also visit excellent local wineries situated in the undulating countryside near Évora.
You will be sojourning in Evora, the capital of Alentejo, and a lovely place to start your gastronomic adventure. This is one of Portugal’s most delightful cities, and its historic centre has been declared as a world heritage site by UNESCO. It has many beautiful buildings and is very atmospheric during both the day and the night.
You will be staying 3 nights a beautiful and elegant 5-star atmospheric boutique hotel in the centre of Evora, within the old city walls. This is a historic 15th century palace, extensively restored. In combining heritage with graceful contemporary architecture, an exclusive and stylish hotel was established.
The rooms are very comfortable, decorated in cool, calm tones. Most rooms benefit from picturesque views – of the pool, gardens, medieval walls or the old town. Most rooms have their own private terrace; however, all rooms have air conditioning.
The property has extensive gardens and a lovely outdoor pool.
Evora is about a one hour and 15 minutes’ drive from Lisbon.
The price for an all-in 4 days (3 nights) gastronomic break:
- 755 Euro per person
What is included:
- 3 nights’ accommodation 5 star boutique hotel
- 3 breakfasts
- 1 farm visit, followed by a tapas-style lunch – including wines and soft drinks
- 1 private cooking class Alentejo rustic style – including aperitif/wines and soft drinks
- 1 private cooking class Alentejo modern style – including aperitif/wines and soft drinks
- 2 lunches after each cooking class, including wines and soft drinks
- 2 dinners restaurants Alentejo – including wines and soft drinks
- 1 tour & tasting at winery
- 1 top art gallery visit
- recipes of the dishes prepared during cooking lessons
The closest airport is Lisbon. Evora is about a one hour drive and 15 minutes’ from Lisbon.
There is an excellent motorway from Lisbon to Evora, which makes for a relaxed and beautiful ride.
Arrival and departure transfers can be easily organised.
Paladares Travel does not offer flights. We suggest you to book directly with one the many companies offering such services. However, if would like Paladares Travel to assist you in making arrangements please let us know.
Please find below an outline of the proposed gastronomic tour. Our itinerary can be altered to suit your flight schedule and duration desired.
- After a short drive, halfway between Lisbon and Évora, a stop for a visit to one of Portugal’s most fascinating farms. This farm strove against manifold difficulties, including expropriations and a lack of manpower due to the rural flight to the urban areas. Still, this 440-hectare family run estate is thriving now, with an ambitious objective: self-sufficiency.
- At this time there is a successful cultivation of a wide range of food stuffs, all following organic guidelines, spawning a wide variety of products including olive oil, fresh herbs and cheeses. There are also meat products like sausage, bacon and chops from cattle and the black Iberian pig. Quality is paramount, and it should be of no surprise that the farms products end up at the table of some of the best Portuguese restaurants.
After a tour of the different estate production facilities, from the vegetable garden to the respectfully preserved Montado field, there will be a tasting of the estate’s products, serving as a light tapas-style lunch.
- After lunch depart for Évora, an easy and short drive from the farm.
- Check-in at your hotel. Time to unwind and explore Évora on your own.
- Your first dinner in Evora is in a typical Alentejo restaurant. Here the young local chef is self-taught. He re-interprets classic Alentejo dishes, with great critical acclaim. The chef will prepare you a classic Alentejo meal using local and seasonal ingredients.
- Dishes will be complemented by wonderful Alentejo wines.
- After breakfast time to explore on your own.
- At the end of the morning you are expected there for a private cooking class in the kitchen of a winery belonging to one of the most acclaimed winemakers in Portugal. This is a spectacular place incorporating the traditional, rustic architecture of a typical Alentejano Herdade – a large classic farm. It is a short, and easy drive to get there, the winery is close to the lovely historic town of Estremoz.
- The chef at the winery is an excellent cook. He is a local, very fond of the Alentejo agricultural bounty. He will showcase his culinary excellence, with rustic touches. The wines here are excellent too, and award winning. Think red wines with dark rich fruits, serenely balanced with medium tannins. The white wines are fresh and elegant. Last but not least, the estate produces wonderful olive oil. We feel exploring this winery captures the essence of Alentejo living: fresh foods, fabulous wines and warm company.
- After a tour of the winery and a wine tasting your cooking class will commence. It is a hands-on class with some demonstration. After a brief discussion of recipes and ingredients you will prepare a lunch menu, together with the winery’s’ chef. Dishes may include: sopa de abóbora (pumpkin soup,) sopa de cação (dogfish soup), perdiz Alentejano (partridgre local style), arroz de pato (rice dish with shredded duck and chorizo), pasteis de Santa Clara (St. Clara turnovers), encharcada (typical sweet of the convents). The class will be followed by lunch of the dishes prepared, with accompanying wines.
- After lunch return to your lovely hotel, or visit the charming royal town of Estremoz, worth a detour.
- Dinner on your own.
- After breakfast, time to unwind.
- Late morning a lovely and easy short drive southwards brings you to Vidigueira – a small whitewashed town that lends its name to the surrounding wine region. The town is surrounded by a small mountain range and, when compared with the rest of Alentejo, a bigger abundance of water sources. This not only allows for a more lavish landscape, it is also one of the reasons that some of Alentejo’s freshest white wines are being produced in this area.
- For your second private cooking class you will visit a striking modern winery cum cutting edge art centre, on the picturesque slopes around Vidigueira. Wines are top class, clean, fresh and even vibrant-tasting. The contemporary design of the winery and its stunning location makes visiting here an exhilarating experience.
Your visit will commence with a cooking class, very much based on seasonal ingredients – some might be sorted locally from the winery’s vegetable garden. Again, the class will combine hands-on cooking with some demonstration of cooking techniques.
Flavours are based on the traditional Alentejo cuisine but given a contemporary twist by the talented chef. You may learn to prepare octopus with herbs, organic chicken with pea purée, chic peas with cod, different cold and warm soups and simple, yet delicious salads. Deserts will also be part of the menu with the reinterpretations of the local favourites: sericaia, an egg pudding with plums, or honey cake. Portions are small and presentation is refined. The class will be paired with light-hearted banter and good wines from the estate.
The class will be followed by lunch of the dishes prepared, with a broad section of accompanying wines of the winery.
Before leaving this beautiful winery there is time for a visit to its art centre. It offers temporary, often cutting-edge contemporary art exhibits; it is exhilarating to be able to explore striking art pieces in a unique setting.
- After lunch return to your lovely hotel, with time to relax and enjoy the splendid surroundings.
- Your last dinner in Evora will be at another of our local favourites. Tucked away in a side street in historic downtown Evora, the restaurant has an understated contemporary decoration. The young head chef, extensively trained in local and foreign kitchens, has used his culinary skills to update traditional recipes while still using local ingredients. The chef’s fresh and inventive cooking produces terrific food.
- The meal will be served in petiscos/tapas style portions, with the dishes varying with the season, as the restaurant follows a farm to table approach. You may expect plates to include caramelised figs with ham, sautéed forest mushrooms with local herbs or roasted wild boar with braised local spinach.
- After breakfast our gastronomic itinerary has come to a conclusion