Portuguese cooking at its best – Chris shares his holiday experience
Chris couldn’t wait to travel on one of GoLearnTo’s delicious cookery holidays, and our Portuguese cooking and wine holiday turned out to be the perfect holiday for him! With its free flowing wine, great company, traditional recipes, and outstanding chefs, who wouldn’t enjoy themselves?!
Read about his cookery experience here:
Did you come to the NotInTheGuidBooks.com website initially looking for a cookery holiday?
Yes, I came across it via a Google search looking for “cooking holidays”
What made you choose this cookery and wine holiday in Portugal in particular, do you usually choose activity holidays rather than beach holidays or was this a new experience you wanted to try?
I chose Portugal specifically, and after much thought for the prospect of decent weather in March, sadly we had the worse weather on record but the warmth of the hospitality and the generous flow of good wine compensated for the wind, cold and rain.
How did you find the booking process with GoLearnTo.com?
A little frustrating … I struggled a little to find a holiday that did not require car hire and one with direct flights from the NW of England. I tried three possibilities before finally getting confirmation … it was thee worse part of the whole process and I almost gave up on a number of occasions but was glad that I persevered.
Was this your first holiday as a solo traveller? Did you have any apprehensions about travelling solo before you arrived?
My first “solo” jaunt for a decade, I had a few apprehensions … would I be the only solo (no), would I be the only Brit (yes)?
How would you describe your hosts Sophia and her team?
Outstanding hosts, sensitive to individual requirements and really helpful. Language was not a problem as all as all spoke excellent to good English.
What was the cooking style of your chefs and how would you describe the kitchen you cooked in?
Each day began at 11am with the making of a welcome cocktail under the instruction of the charming head waiter/barman, “Teddy”. Pedro and his team did most of the cooking although I think we all would have liked to do more. Lessons took place in a purpose built, light and airy, tuition kitchen which made for a pleasant learning environment. Throughout all staff had a laid back, fun approach to learning which made the week really enjoyable.
What did you think of the hotel accommodation, and the location of the hotel?
The hotel, a former coaching hotel, is in the centre of Portel, a small, typically whitewashed, rural town two hours SE of Lisbon. The hotel has commanding views over the castle or fields. Rooms were large, light and really comfortable, service was outstanding throughout. There is a small outdoor pool … which we avoided in March!
What kind of food did you cook during your holiday?
The Alentejo cuisine rests largely on the Mediterranean diet … if you do not like garlic, olive oil, onions, bread and bay leaves … this is not the holiday for you.
What would you say your favourite dish you learnt to cook was?
Lombinho de Carapau em Cebolada … mackerel in onions with paprika and white wine … scrumptious (see photo)
How do you feel now you’ve done the holiday – are you inspired to carry on cooking delicious Portuguese food in your free time?!
I’ll definitely give it a go!
What would you tell people who were considering booking this holiday – any top tips?
Shop around to find a holiday that suits you … if you are looking for a small group activity holiday that does not involve bungy jumping or parachuting, look hard at this one … it might just fit the bill!