IRVINA LEW

Travel Writer & Author

Tag: Portugal (Page 1 of 2)

TAP Portugal Review

In September, TAP Portugal’s cuisine consultant, Chef Vítor Sobral — a celebrity TV chef and cookbook author — will introduce the Taste the Stars programThe project presents authentic, locally sourced Portuguese meals developed by five Michelin-starred chefs, to be served in TAP’s business and economy classes.

TAP also launched a stopover program, offering travelers up to three days in Lisbon and/or Porto at no additional airfare before heading to the Algarve, Madeira, the Azores or 60-plus other European or African destinations. It’s an ongoing promotion with 150 partners, including the Michelin-starred chefs and their participating restaurants. Passenger benefits include a bottle of wine, substantive land discounts and complimentary experiences.

I experienced the Lisbon stopover in May during my trip to Faro — the popular airport in the Algarve along Portugal’s sunny southwestern Atlantic coast, which attracts beach and golf vacationers. Since November 2016, which marked my first flight with TAP, I’ve flown trans-Atlantic flights between Lisbon and both John F. Kennedy Airport and Newark International Airport, and domestic flights between Lisbon and both Porto (OPO) and Faro (FAO). Three of those seven segments were in economy and four in business class so I have a variety of recent experiences. TAP also flies from Boston (BOS), Miami (MIA) and Toronto (YYZ).

TAP Portugal

TAP PORTUGAL CHEFS

My favorite business-class lounge was in Lisbon, very inviting, even for a long layover. The chairs along the window wall had footrests, making it ideal to read with the light coming in over my shoulder. Most of the seats were adjacent to electronic towers with two plugs and tables, which were nice for eating. There were spacious showers in the lavatories, a glass-enclosed smoking space, and ample food and wine choices. Since my last flight in May 2017, TAP opened a brand new and more spacious lounge.

Each flight was pleasant, easy and uneventful and the staff members — from the check-in agents to the flight attendants — were courteous, warm and hospitable. This was particularly true of the gate agents on our first outbound flight from JFK around midnight when the New York crew arrived late.

All travelers are offered fine chocolates and wine, and business class features a selection that includes Port and Madeira wines. Global Traveler has recognized the airline for the quality of its wines.

My business-class flight from Lisbon in May featured fully flat beds on the Airbus A330 aircraft. Of the 80 aircraft in the fleet, 16 are A330s. It had an extra-wide storage pocket, underfoot storage, a side shelf, a large entertainment touchscreen with headsets and a fold-up table with linen cloths. A plush pillow and oversize quilt contributed to an easy sleep.

All of the meals were graciously served and well received on my flights, and though I haven’t yet experienced the Michelin-starred chefs’elevated in-flight meals, I can personally vouch for the culinary expertise.

TAP Portugal

New York (JFK)–Lisbon (LIS)–Porto (OPO); Lisbon–Faro (FAO)

Read More on Global Traveler

Lisboans Flock to New and Trendy Food Halls

Located in old palaces and modern structures, the halls offer food stalls and wine tastings

On my first day in Lisbon, I sampled Portuguese wines from the Douro and Alentejo regions at the Wines of Portugal tasting room on the Royal Square (Praça do Comércio-Terreiro do Paco) just across from the Pousada do Lisboa, (a Small Luxury Hotel affiliate), where I was staying. The wines in the waterfront showroom were displayed according to individual regions, just as the restaurants in the food court venues are separated according to menus.

That evening, I met a colleague at the Palácio Chiado, a stunningly restored eighteenth-century palace, which served as a residence, library, museum, and Institute of Decorative Arts before falling into disrepair. It reopened in 2016 as an opulent food court, with seven different wining and dining spaces, including the city’s most beautiful sushi bar, which is also claimed to be the best.

That evening, I met a colleague at the Palácio Chiado, a stunningly restored eighteenth-century palace, which served as a residence, library, museum, and Institute of Decorative Arts before falling into disrepair. It reopened in 2016 as an opulent food court, with seven different wining and dining spaces, including the city’s most beautiful sushi bar, which is also claimed to be the best.

I also visited the Time Out Market, twice, which the folks at the magazine reconstructed within the original Lisbon marketplace Mercado da Ribeira. The Time Out staff selected each of the local purveyors and chefs who represent the region’s best. The first time, I arrived as a side-car passenger after a tour during which the English-speaking cyclist-guide zipped around and up and down some of Lisbon’s seven hillsides and purchased fresh croquettes at the croqueteria and perfect Portuguese pastéis de nata at the custard tart factory. I returned when I discovered that the railroad station — from which I traveled to and from the seacoast village of Cascais — was directly across the street. I ordered a “signature” seafood Francesinha de atun (a tuna, beef, crab meat, onion, and shrimp dish) by Marlene Vieira, the only female among the top chefs in Time Out’s stable. Although it was overly sauced for my taste, I divided it among the new “friends” who shared the community table, and they loved it unabashedly.

There is much to love in Lisbon, from topography to Beaux-Arts (and contemporary) architecture; from ceramic azulejo tiles, art museums and fado music to the fabulous food courts, which offer multiple opportunities to sample the city’s culinary excellence.

Read More at The Daily Meal 

 

Anantara Vilamoura Algarve Resort

Anantara Vilamoura Algarve Resort, just 20 minutes from Faro airport, is located along the Algarve, Portugal’s 100-mile southernmost Atlantic coast. It’s the first European outpost of Anantara, a Bangkok-based brand known for its “destination experience,” which focuses on what is local, indigenous, and authentic.

For the April 1, 2017, opening of the sprawling and stunning 280-room hotel, the interior design team redecorated the existing building adding Portuguese art and artifacts, including cork, tin, and hand-crafted ceramics (in the spa, Jorge Marques’ hand-painted his ceramics with traditional olive tree motif) plus iconic local design elements, such as chimneys, a symbol of the region.

Having arrived post-midnight on the last half-hour TAP Portugal flight from Lisbon, I didn’t step out on my balcony until morning. That’s when I viewed the building’s yellow limestone blocks, which surround the grand main pool (one of five), and the Arnold Palmer designed 18-hole golf course (one of six nearby courses).

Breakfast offered a plethora of healthy options: baskets of oranges, peaches, and apples; glass samovar-like jars filled with freshly squeezed juices labeled Algarve orange, Alcobaca Apple, Tropical fruit, Carrot & Orange, ABC (apple, beetroot, carrot) plus, in pitchers, Tomato and Detox of the Day. A buffet offered sliced oranges, diced watermelon, quartered kiwi, papaya, figs, fresh and jarred yogurts, smoked salmon, assorted cheeses, and platters of sliced ham, including the famous Pats Negra—from pigs who eat chestnuts and almonds—and which is sliced by hand, because it is so delicate.

One bread table displayed baguettes, rolls, pastries, and whole breads on a board; another presented only gluten-free options. Still, the pastry chef passed around tempting croissants and pastries. Along with covered chafing dishes with scrambled eggs and a variety of meats, there was an English-speaking omelet maker who sautéed what I selected: onion, peppers, mushroom, scallions, and tomatoes before adding one whole scrambled egg and some liquid whites. Foodies, vegetarians, gluten-free aficionados, and people with dietary restrictions can make special requests and eat well at Anantara.

Locally sourced Portuguese ingredients dominate in treatments, including a coffee exfoliation and citrus-based powders, oils, and citrus tea from the local orange groves.

At Ria, the lunchtime outlet, seafood reigns: fish soup, teeny local clams, sweet and huge Tiger prawns, octopus salad, oysters, lobster, a variety of grilled freshly caught, local fish and bacalao, the famous Portuguese cod dish. For fine dining, Emo offers a fixed-price tasting menu, which can be paired with some of the 350 wines selected by sommelier António Lopes. Mine started with grilled Atlantic scallops drizzled with truffle oil, pan-fried sea bass served with shiitake mushrooms, Portuguese beef in a red wine sauce, a light orange-sorbet pre-dessert, and a Madagascar chocolate-hazelnut dessert. Healthful fare is also available on the Lobby Bar menu along with seven Petiscos (tapas) which include garlicky cooked carrots, bruschetta topped with red and yellow peppers, and a bean salad served in a tiny glass.

The bar faces the Lobby “Tree” sculpture, made with grafts of acacia and pine and surrounded by small chimneys, where a soulful Fado concert is performed by a singer and guitarists each evening at 7:00 pm.

Promontorio Architects chose the uppermost floor for the spa and constructed window walls that separate the indoor heated swimming pool, hammam, and sauna from the terrace where guests can do yoga and Pilates on a grassy stretch and relax on chaises, enjoying the expansive views of the ocean. Each of the seven treatment suites has its own fully equipped dressing room with sink, a beautiful box for jewelry, a large mosaic tiled shower, and a lavatory.

The treatments fuse holistic Asian wellness rituals, including Thai massage in a dedicated room with mats on the floor, Tingsha meditation bells, and a future Ayurveda specialty. Locally sourced Portuguese ingredients dominate in treatments, including a coffee exfoliation and citrus-based powders, oils, and citrus tea from the local orange groves.

My therapist, Renata, met me at reception and escorted me directly to a double treatment room with a private outdoor terrace equipped with a whirlpool and chaise lounges. The 90-minute Anantara Signature Massage started with an almond milk foot bath and coffee scrub/exfoliation. The massage incorporated local orange and almond-infused oil started at the toes, and worked its way to my face and scalp, before Renata twinkled the bell, announcing its end.

During the three days and four nights or my visit, I discovered the diverse appeal of the Algarve traveling by van, raft, jeep, taxi, and tuk-tuk along the 136-mile coastline. Portugal, Europe’s least costly beach, and golf destination offers countless coastal communities—from ancient Moorish fishing villages to dense seaside high-rise communities to golf resorts and hotels for every taste and budget.

Read the full story at Insiders Guide To Spa’s

 

Anantara Vilamoura Algarve Resort
Vilamoura, Portugal
+351 289 317 000
ANANTARA.COM/PORTUGAL/

 

Wine Travel Irvina Lew

Will Fly For Wine

Thomas Jefferson—who tried in vain for success as a vintner—endured weeks on transatlantic crossings and on horseback to visit wineries just to swirl, sniff and sip. Today, prestigious wine regions are accessible within two hours of major cosmopolitan cities, including New York City with its proximity to wineries on Long Island, in the Hudson Valley and in Coastal Connecticut. But for those looking for a break from New York, there’s no need to buy a horse, of course. Hop on a plane and clink glasses in some of the world’s most famous wine regions.

Mendoza, Argentina (Santiago, Chile)

Mendoza is the world’s fifth biggest wine producing region, in large part because of the weather. Hot dry days and cold nights make it perfect for producing Malbec, Argentina’s best-known grape. Mendoza City is central to 1,500 regional wineries and offers museums, parks and familiar luxury hotels—including The InterContinental Mendoza with its casino. Bodega Familia Zuccardi in Maipú is a 30-minute trip and the prestigious Bodega Catena Zapata, in the desert-like Valle de Uco where the winery rises like a Mayan temple, is only 50 miles away. Algodon Wine Estates, a hacienda-like resort set amidst the rolling foothills of the Sierra Pintada Mountains at the base of the Andes, is three hours away. It’s worth the trip for oenophiles looking for a well-rounded experience. The resort offers its few dozen guests and second home owners barbecue feasts, called Asado, winery visits, horseback riding, golf and a pool. Go.

Sonoma, USA (San Francisco, California)

In the nearby Russian River Valley, La Crema opened a new visitor center on the fabulous Saralee’s Vineyard for tastings, wine education and culinary exploration. Each September, people flock to Kendall Jackson Winery for The Annual Heirloom Tomato Festival. The two-day charity event is complete with chef-staffed booths, a cook-off and a tasting of each of the 150 different heirloom varieties grown on the winery estate’s vegetable garden. Executive Chef Scott Romano reigns at Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen in charming Healdsburg and serves dishes developed by his mentor, the late Long Island chef Gerry Hayden. The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn—with its mineral springs and spa—is a comfortable and convenient base for a California Wine Country tour. Go.

Burgundy, France (Paris, France)

Visitors to Burgundy pass wine estates colored in burgundy (grapes), green (vines) and gold (sunlight), which match the region’s famed glazed-tile roofs. The route reads like a famous wine list: Gevrey-Chambertin, Clos de Vougeot, Nuit St. George, Pommard and Meursault. On European Waterway barges, the crew cooks, pours and drives to and, thankfully, from the tasting rooms. In Beaune, the Hotel Le Cep, an affiliate of Small Luxury Hotels, combines two historic mansions separated by a 16th century courtyard. Its Spa Marie de Bourgogne offers massages within a panoramic tower. From here, walk to wine merchants and the historic Hospice de Beaune and bike (40 minutes) to Puligny Montrachet for an al fresco lunch within a 17th century building at the 13-room Hotel Olivier Leflaive. Go.

Douro, Portugal (Porto, Portugal)

Quinta da Roêda (12)

The Douro Wine Region starts up river from Porto, the 2000-year-old UNESCO World Heritage city. Oenophiles drive, ride the rails or cruise on Emerald Waterways to visit its long-established port wine estates. In 2015, the 57-room Six Senses Douro opened within a 19th century turret and arch studded country house, which New York’s Clodagh transformed into a modern, multi-level spa hotel, 90-minutes from Porto. The wine library stocks local wines including Van Zellers Douro DOC wines (Quinta Vale D. Maria 2013, a Douro Red, ranks in the TOP 100 in 2016). And the owners of Croft, Fonseca and Taylor, who constructed The Yeatman, a Relais & Chateaux in Porto, recently launched the 43-room Vintage House, located riverside in Pinhão not far from the visitor center at their Quinta da Roêda estate. As for the view, it’s unbeatable. Guests are known to savor the view of rugged, vine-covered hills as much as they savor the world-class vino. Go.

Penedes, Spain (Barcelona, Spain)

CellerW-09.7

The picturesque Catalan wine region of Penedes, which is best known for its Cava sparkling wines, is an hour from Barcelona. As an idyllic home base, there’s the luxurious Mandarin Oriental Barcelona with its spa, the high-rise Melia Barcelona SKY with its new YHI Wellness Spa or Hotel Bagues, a small luxury hotel in a historic palace on Las Ramblas. This is the pedestrian street boasting the bustling Boqueria market and the Liceu Theater, which connects Gaudi’s gorgeous modernist achievements with the waterfront statue to Columbus. Vilafranca del Penedès—reached by car, train or on a Viator wine tour—is the place to experience the wine and architectural artistry at the extraordinary Waltraud Cellar for Bodegas Torres. This wine estate was established by the Torres family in 1870. Designed by Javier Barba of BC Estudio Architects in Barcelona, the GREEN tri-level structure has an underground cellar, cloister-like meditative space, a museum and tasting room with the spot’s finest wines. Go. 

Read The full article at Long Island Pulse

 

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