When Nicole was planning her last tour, traveling to Portugal wasn’t the first thing that came to mind. But, when a fellow Go Ahead Tours staffer suggested she take the trip, her answer was why not?
“Reading up, I realized that Portugal is just a short flight from Boston—and it’d be easy to add a stop in Madeira for a bonus adventure,” Nicole said. Plus, the opportunity to explore historic cities, as well as get in a little beach time, seemed too good to pass up.
But what stood out the most while she was traveling? “Honestly, the cuisine,” Nicole said. Making and sharing meals is an important part of Portuguese culture, and Nicole learned that firsthand. “There was so much amazing food, I feel like I ate everything in sight!” Here, she shares a few favorite treats to try in Porto—the country’s foodie central.
With Portugal’s seafaring history, it’s no surprise that fish features heavily on a lot of menus, especially in coastal Porto. “Cod is very popular, and there are so many ways to make it,” Nicole said. “One specialty is bacalhau, or salt cod, which we got to try at the welcome dinner.”
There’s not one standard recipe for this calorie-heavy sandwich, and local chefs are notoriously silent on exactly how they make their versions. But, generally, francesinha is made with ham, linguiça sausage, and steak, then topped with melted cheese and a fried egg. The whole thing gets covered in a tomato-and-beer sauce and is served with a side of fries, in case you’re still hungry. “It seems crazy, but you have to try it,” Nicole said—and Cerverjaria Brasão is a favorite spot to dig in.
Bola de Berlim
If you’ve had a Boston Cream doughnut or Italian bomboloni, then bolas de Berlim might look familiar. These petite, cream-filled pastries are a Portuguese specialty, inspired by the German Berliner. They’re so popular, you might even spot vendors selling doughnuts to sunbathers at the beach! “I found a family-run bakery in Porto that made the best bolas de Berlim,” Nicole said. “Don’t miss Confeitaria Serrana if you’ve got a sweet tooth.”
Port wine (with a twist!)
Of course, Porto is also home to Port wine, the sweet, fortified sip that’s made nearby in the Douro Valley. On tour, Nicole had a chance to visit a Port wine cellar and learn all about Port production—as well as taste a few types. “I discovered a great shop right in here Boston’s North End. V. Cirace & Son, Inc., where I can pick up some of the same wines from the tour!”
For a twist, try a Porto tónico, especially if you’re a fan of the Spanish staple: the gin and tonic. It’s a cocktail made with white Port, tonic, and a hint of orange. “It’s so simple, but that’s why it’s amazing. That’s something I learned about cooking here.”
Consider yourself a foodie? What was your favorite meal while traveling? Let us know in the comments!