Chef Rui Correia owner of Douro Restaurant in Greenwich Ct. will be hosting a spectacular trip of a life time, Food and Wine tour of the Douro Valley, Portugal this October. See itinerary here: Douro – Food Wine Tour 2014.
Chef Correia will also be preparing dishes along with some of the renowned chefs at the restaurants and vineyards on the tour! This years tour is sold out but Chef Correia will be planning another tour next year 2015!
The chef is a frequent guest on The Today Show, been featured in many media outlets and is currently a chef instructor at Clarke Kitchens Culinary Center.
The menus at Douro Restaurant are a showcase of Chef Rui Correia’s creative approach to Portuguese-Mediterranean fare. Using local and seasonal ingredients Chef Rui demonstrates how Portuguese cuisine can be fresh, unique, and comforting. Chef Correia will be featured at the Greenwich Food & Wine Festival 2014 this September which will featuring many network Celebrity Chefs.
THE DOURO FOOD AND WINE TOUR October 9 – October 15, 2014 — SOLD OUT!!!
2015 DOURO FOOD AND WINE TOUR TBA!!!
Thursday October 09
Depart NEWARK/ NJ on TAP Air Portugal
Friday October 10 – Arrive PORTO, PORTUGAL
Accommodation 2 nights at Vintage House Hotel, Porto
In the heart of Douro’s World Heritage site, this former 18th century wine estate enjoys a fantastic riverfront location, surrounded by famous Port wine production estates and their extensive vineyards.
The interiors are sophisticated and comfortable and all the rooms have balconies overlooking the river.The award-winning “Rabelo” restaurant provides a combination of excellent food and wines of the region.
Your experience will start with a private visit of Niepoort Vineyards at Quinta de Napoles.
This critically acclaimed vineyard is not open to the public, but Chef Rui has arranged for an early lunch and tasting of some of their finest releases for a truly unique afternoon .
For our first evening in Portugal, Chef Rui Correia has organized a wine dinner at the most prestigious restaurant in the Douro Valley, Rui Paul’s DOC. His restaurant sits above the rivers water, with spectacular views of the surrounding vineyards.
Saturday October 11:
Morning at Leisure- Take in the stunning views of the Douro Valley at our hotel, situated on the banks of the Douro River.
Setting sail from the dock at the Vintage House, the group will board a traditional barco de rabelo (sailboat), for a leisure cruise on the Douro River.
Departure for Quinta Do Portal
We will enjoy late afternoon relaxation by the pool at this beautiful vineyard while enjoying local snacks and wines.
Chef Rui in collaboration with Quinta Do Portal has set up a four course tasting menu, with a private selection of wines that will be presented to the group by the winemaker
Paulo Coutinho and owner Pedro Branco of the vineyard.
Sunday October 12 – 14
Yeatman Hotel – Accommodations for 2 nights in executive suites.
The hotel is located in the heart of the worlds porto capital,owned and operated by the Taylor Fladgate family. This stunning hotel has amazing views of the ribeira baixa, where all the port wine houses are located. Once we have settled in, the group will meet for cocktails & hors d’ouvres followed by a lunch prepared by Chef Ricardo Costa of The Yeatman which will feature some local specialties of Chef Rui’s hometown.
After lunch we will take a vintage private tour of Taylor Fladgate and Fonseca Port wine houses located in Vila Nova De Gaia.
Dinner at Pedro Lemos Restaurant: Pedro Lemos is one of Porto’s most talented young chefs, and friend of Chef Rui’s. His namesake restaurant is one of Porto’s hidden gems in the Figeira Da Foz area. We will be treated to a four course tasting menu with wine pairing at this intimate, quaint restaurant.
Tuesday October 14 – 15
Transfer to EVORA and check in at Hotel Convento Do Espinheiro (Lisbon area)
After settling into the hotel we go for our last winery visit, to Quinta Do Esporao in the alentejo wine region, followed by a farewell tapas dinner with samplings of this wineries fine wines. The group will then return back to the hotel for some rest and relaxation before departing the next day.
Wednesday October 15
Depart LISBON -Tap Air Portugal
Arrive NEWARK /NJ
DOURO RESTAURANT BAR
363 GREENWICH AVENUE
GREENWICH, CT 06830
Douro can provide catering & event planning for your next gathering. Our team will help you with everything necessary to create a unique experience.
EVENT & CATERING SERVICES AVAILABLE – at home, in the restaurant, in your office, or event space
Corporate – Stations – Cocktails & Hors D’oeuvres – Full Service Staff – Outdoor Grilling – Customized Menus – Private Chef – Cooking Demonstrations
I appeared on Portuguese TV – SIC NOTICIA/SAPO on Tuesday June 10, Portugal day. The news piece featured Portuguese Sweet Muffins – Bolos Levados from the Portuguese company 3mealmuffin company of Fall River.
Mr. Lopes sent my family his delicious muffins and I can tell you, they were simply delicious! The muffins are available in many markets in New England and will soon be able to order online via their website in the near future.
The muffins have gained much popularity in the recent years and are now featured at many famous upscale restaurants. Paul Lopes, owner of the company says his muffins are used as burger and sandwich buns in many New York City restaurants such as the famous Tribeca Grill, and at Madison Square Garden. They are also used in many upscale restaurants around the country, in Miami, and at the famous Craigs Restaurant in L.A. Ca.
When the Lopes family came to this country 46 years ago, Mr. Lopes’s mother-in-law, Beatriz Caetano, noticed that no one was making the kind of breakfast muffins they ate in the Azores.
Tiberio Lopes, the Portuguese muffin patriarch, got the idea for his product while working at Chaves Market, a Portuguese market that did not sell bolos levedos. Beatriz gave Tiberio and Leonor the recipe.
In 1975 the husband-and-wife team started the baking business out of their garage. They found a distributor who brought the muffins to mom-and-pop shops in Cape Cod.
Their muffins became a hit and the demand was enough to start a mail order business. It catered to customers who got to know the product while vacationing in Cape Cod and wanted to get the muffins back home.
This led to them moving out of the garage and into their first and smallest bakery on South Main Street.
In 1988, the Lopes’s got their first big break. A story in the New York Times featured the family and their product. The muffins were already being sold to restaurants in the city including high-end eateries like Balducci’s.
Another publication called “Food Finds” also featured the muffins. Today the Food Channel has a show based on the book which looks at local specialty foods.
The Bakery only makes Portuguese Muffins, which they brand as 3-meal muffins due to the fact that they are not just considered breakfast food by their customers. The branding is also a way of shaking off the competition that has followed the names they have given the product since introducing it. They wanted to separate themselves from everyone who tried duplicating their muffins.
The Central Bakery family is proud to be baking the Original Portuguese Muffin since 1975. credits (http://3mealmuffin.com/our-distributors
You can find Leonor Santos’s recipe for Bolos Levedos here.
Photo credits: Amazon.com, Star Chefs.com
Chef George Mendes of Aldea Restaurant, New York City, has risen to fame in the last few years receiving a Michelin Star in 2011 and again in 2012. He has written his first cook book titled; My Portugal/Recipes and Stories which includes 125 recipes from traditional to modern versions of the classic Portuguese dishes. The book is available on Amazon for per-ordering with an October 7,2014 launch date. Read about his discovery of his roots and research for his first cook book on his recent trip to Portugal.
Amazon review: In My Portugal, George Mendes, chef and owner of Michelin-starred Aldea, introduces us to the world of Portuguese cuisine, offering 125 mouthwatering recipes that showcase the wide range of dishes that come from this coastal country. The collection balances Mendes’s popular restaurant recipes, such as his signature Duck Rice and Garlic Seared Shrimp, with his takes on classic Portuguese dishes, such as Salt, Cod, Potato, and Egg Casserole; Mozambique Shrimp and Okra with Piri Piri; Eggs Baked with Peas, Linguiça, and Bacon; Butter Cookies; and more. His stories illustrate the wealth of culinary resources in Portugal—fresh seafood, savory meats, and crisp vegetables. With delicious recipes and stunning photographs of the country, My Portugal takes the reader on an unforgettable journey. credits: (amazon.com) Pre-order below.
// Amazon.com Widgets
In 2011 he won the title of “Food and Wine Magazine’s Best New Chef New York”. Since then, Chef Mendes has been featured on many TV programs including Top Chef, The Today Show, and featured in many media outlets.
Here’s a recent interview by Food & Wine magazine March 27, 2014.
My husband and I had the pleasure of dining at Chef George Mendes’s Aldea restaurant in New York City a few years ago. It was a cold night in February when we took a quick 15 minute cab ride and arrived at a fully booked restaurant at 9 pm. Luckily there were two seats left with the kitchen view that seemed like they had been reserved just for the two of us. We had the pleasure of watching the Chef along with his talented and efficient staff preparing our meals.
I loved the view, since it was like watching one of the cooking shows I’d seen so many times on TV and I’d always wondered why the celebrity chefs made it look so effortless and so organized.
My many years of working in restaurant kitchens told me otherwise. Aldea’s kitchen however was calm and relaxing and everything flowed smoothly. There would be no shouting at sous chefs that night, no clanging of dishes or of pots and pans. There was no temperamental “Portuguese Chef” like so many that I had worked with in my career.
That day, a very creative and talented Michelin Star Chef prepared our meal. Our dinner, was prepared with the Chef’s passion for his Portuguese culinary roots, but with a modern, artistic version of the classics. We ate, we relaxed, and we enjoyed the wonder of it all!
photo credit: aldea.com
We had mouthwatering, delicious meal including one of the chef’s signature dishes; “SHRIMP ALHINHO” in a garlic sauce. Although Chef Mendes was extremely busy with a booked house, his warm and friendly Portuguese hospitality shined through when we said hello to him. He took the time to came to our table where we talked about Aldea, and his upcoming ventures. The next time I saw the chef was on TV when he appeared as contestant on Top Chef. I’m looking forward to my next visit to NYC and to Aldea!
On June 10, 2014 – In honor of celebrating “Dia de Portugal” Portugal Day, Aldea will be having a guest chef event featuring 4 Portuguese Chefs/5 courses/ 5 wines at 7 pm $155. Call for reservations.
Featured chefs include: Chef George Mendes of Aldea, Chef Rui Correia, of Douro Restaurant in Greenwich, Connecticut, Chef David Santos of Louro restaurant in New York City, and Chef Pedr Lemos of restaurant Homónimo Porto, Portugal.
31 W 17th st.
New York, NY, 10011
phone: (212) 675-7223
fax: (212) 675-7277
To showcase the incredible versatility of Portuguese wines with food, Wines of Portugal is launching an exciting new culinary-focused program in the United States this April. The program, known as “10 Chefs / 10 Wineries,” will match ten Portuguese wineries with ten of America’s top chefs, culminating in an online cooking series and limited edition printed recipe guide that will be available to trade, press and consumers by the end of the year. credits: http://www.winesofportugal.com/us/food-and-wine/10-chefs-10-wineries/
Executive Chef Ben Pollinger and Wine Director Pedro Goncalves
Paired with Duorum Colheita 2011
4 4-ounce portions bacalhau, soaked three days
in equal parts milk and water, changing liquid every day
3 Tbs EVOO
1/3 Cup chorizo, skinned and diced 1/3 inch (approximately one link)
1 ¼ Cup Vidalia onion, medium dice (approx ½ medium onion)
3 cloves garlic, sliced thin
2 plum tomatoes, cored and diced 1/3 inch
1 Cup cooked chickpeas
¾ Cup cooked fingerling potatoes, diced 1/3 inch (about 6 small potatoes)
1 Cup chicken stock
2 Tbs halved black olives
2 Tbs quartered large green olives
1 Tbs slivered parsley
1. Heat a 12 inch skillet over medium heat. Add 2 Tbs EVOO.
2. Add chorizo and fry over medium high heat for 3 minutes,
until lightly browned and oil takes on a red color from the sausage.
3. Add onion and garlic and sauté five minutes, until lightly colored
4. Add tomatoes; cook five minutes until tomato starts to break down
5. Add chickpeas, potatoes and stock. Cover and simmer 15 minutes.
6. Nestle bacalhau into the ragout and spoon some of the ragout over the fish.
7. Place cover on pan, cook 8 minutes.
8. Add olives, remaining 1 Tbs EVOO and parsley, stir to combine.
9. Spoon the ragout into four bowls. Place the fish on top of the ragout.
10. Spoon remaining ragout over the fish.
11. Place the halved quail egg over fish, top with a little more
sliced parsley and a drizzle of EVOO.
Quail eggs (can substitute with chicken eggs if quail eggs are unavailable)
4 quail eggs (quarter a single chicken egg if substituting)
Place in a pot, cover with cold water.
Bring to a boil, boil two minutes.
Remove from water, peel and cut in half.
photos and text credits:
Sangria is a perfect drink to quench your thirst on a hot day. It’s beautiful fruity color makes it a great crowd pleaser for your next picnic or a party.
The use of the word sangria in labels is now restricted under European law. Only sangria made in Spain and Portugal will be allowed to be sold under that name after the European Parliament green-lighted new wine labeling in January 2014. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sangria
I served my Sangria with a Portuguese Antipasti Platter of cold meats, cheese, olives, roasted red peppers and breads but you can make up your party platter with your favorites.
My recipe is easy because you don’t have to spend time making a simple syrup to sweeten it, you simply add orange Sumol which has a sweet orange flavor.
1 liter bottle of Portuguese Red Wine
1 liter of Sumol or any Orange soda
1/2 cup of 1920 Brandy
2 oranges (sliced)
1 lemon (sliced) optional
2 cups of ice cubes
Place the ice in a large pitcher and add the wine. Add the remaining ingredients, stir well and place in the refrigerator for a few hours for the flavor to intensify and to chill.
Decorate serving glasses with a slice of orange and a strawberry. Add ice and serve cold.
Look at the beautiful color!
Portuguese Sweet Muffins featured in Huffington Post article!
Click on this link to read the article! Why Portuguese Muffins AreSeriously Underrated
The article links back to Tia Maria’s Blog for the recipe by Leonor Santos!
Here’s an excerpt from the article in the Huffington Post – Travel – February 22, 2014
“Popularized in the United States by Portuguese immigrants around New Bedford and Cape Cod in Massachusetts, these muffins can still be found in many a Cape Cod sandwich shop. Larger, chewier, slightly sweeter and more flavorful and substantial than an English muffin, it’s no wonder they’ve caught on outside of Massachusetts too. While they’re still not as ubiquitous English muffins, we think their time will come. Once you try one, you’ll understand why they’re seriously underrated.” Excerpt and top left photo credit: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/25/portuguese-muffins_n_4847213.html?utm_hp_ref=travel&ir=Travel
Bacalhau com Grao is perfect for your meatless days. This recipe has slow digesting carbs that are good for your diet, fiber and packed with protein! For those of you that observe Lent and opt out of eating meat on Friday it’s an easy dish to prepare in less than 30 minutes. If you can’t find salted cod in your grocery store, you can substitute it with any flaky white fish but add 1 teaspoon of salt to the poaching liquid.
Codfish & Chick Pea Salad with Herb Vinaigrette
Bacalhau com Grao
1 pound of boneless re-hydrated salt cod (cut into (2) 8 ounce portions)
1 slice of onion
2 cups of water
2 cups of cooked chick peas
¼ cup of olive oil (add more if desired)
½ cup of white wine vinegar
½ small onion (finely minced)
2 cloves of garlic (finely minced)
¼ teaspoon of salt
¼ teaspoon of black pepper
2 tablespoons of Parsley (chopped)
Make the vinaigrette in a medium bowl by mixing the ingredients together and set aside to incorporate the flavors.
Meanwhile, poach the codfish in a medium pan filled with about 2 cups of water and the slice of onion. Cook in a slow boil for about 8-10 minutes on medium heat.
Remove the codfish from the pan, drain, and cover to keep warm. Add the chick peas to the pan and cook for about 5 minutes on low heat.
Drain the chick peas and place both the fish and chick peas on a serving dish.
Pour the vinaigrette on top and serve. Add more olive oil and seasoning if desired. Enjoy!
Photo credit: http://www.cincoquartosdelaranja.com/2010/06/bacalhau-cozido-com-chicharos.html
Wines of Portugal | A world of difference | News article | 50 Great Portuguese Wines by Joshua Greene revealed.
Here is the article from Wines of Portugal featuring the 50 Great Wines of Portugal list by Joshua Greene.
Joshua Greene, Wine & Spirits editor, unveiled his favorite Portuguese wines.
Today the 50 Great Portuguese wines were revealed at New York Public Library by Joshua Greene. The Portuguese wine’s quality and diversity enchanted the wine critic, who confessed being surprised with the Portuguese wine sector transformation during the last decade. To achieve a 50 Great list, Joshua Greene tasted 600 Portuguese wines and visited Portugal several times (fact that reignited his passion for Portugal).
Photo credit: http://www.wineandspiritsmagazine.com/pages/aboutus_critics.html
Joshua Greene was the second wine personality chosen by ViniPortugal to select 50 Great Portuguese wines for the U.S., after the success of the 50 Great Wines by Doug Frost, Master of Wine and Master Sommelier, in 2013. Joshua Greene is a Portuguese wine connoisseur: he tastes Portuguese wines for over 25 years and visited the country many times.
ViniPortugal aims to approach Portuguese wines to U.S. wine consumers and opinion leaders with the 50 Great events, showing the quality of Portuguese wines available in this market.
“What makes the difference is the concentration of diverse terroirs, climates and grape varieties that you can’t find anywhere else in the world. It’s a small country, but a world of diversity. The wine sector evolution has been amazing. I hope U.S. market will enjoy my selection, which was based on the distinctive and traditional character of Portuguese wines. I hope wine consumers taste and discover the Portuguese wine charm. I believe they will.”
Article, photos and resources from: (http://www.winesofportugal.info/pagina.php?codNode=123481)
50 Great Portuguese Wines 2013
Adriano Ramos Pinto, Collection 2009, red, Douro
Aliança, Quinta da Dôna 2009, red, Bairrada
Anselmo Mendes Vinhos, Contacto 2012, white, Vinho Verde
Casa de Mouraz, Encruzado 2012, white, Dão
Casa de Mouraz, Elfa 2010, red, Dão
Casca Wines, Monte Cascas Malvasia 2011, White, Colares
Duorum Vinhos, Reserva Vinhas Velhas 2009, red, Douro
Enoport United Wines, Quinta do Boição Reserva 2012, white, Bucelas
Folias de Baco, Olho no Pé Grande Reserva 2008, red, Douro
Fonseca Porto Vintage 2011
FTP Vinhos, Quinta do Serrado Reserva 2009, red, Dão
Herdade de Vale Barqueiros Reserva 2008, red, Alentejo
Herdade do Esporão Reserva 2010, red, Alentejo
Herdade do Esporão Verdelho 2012, white, Alentejo
IdealDrinks, Eminência 2010, white, Vinho Verde
João Brito e Cunha, Quinta de S. José Touriga Nacional 2011, red, Douro
Jorge Moreira, Poeira 2010, red, Douro
Jose Maria da Fonseca, Domingo Soares Franco Colecção Privada Moscatel Roxo 2012, P. de Setúbal
Luís Pato, Vinha Pan, 2009, Bairrada
Lusovini, Pedra Cancela Seleção do Énologo 2010, red, Dão
Madeira Wine Company, Blandy’s Colheita Bual 1996, Madeira
Monte da Ravasqueira, Vinha das Romãs 2010, red, Alentejo
Muxagat 2011, red, Douro
Niepoort Vinhos, Batuta 2010, red, Douro
Niepoort Vinhos, Porto Vintage 2011, Douro
Quinta da Alorna, Portal da Águia 2009, red, Tejo
Quinta da Lixa, Aromas das Castas Alvarinho Trajadura 2012, white, Vinho Verde
Quinta da Plansel, Marquês de Montemor Colheita Seleccionada Touriga Franca 2010, red, Alentejo
Quinta da Ponte Pedrinha Vinhas Velhas 2007, red, Dão
Quinta da Sequeira Reserva 2008, red, Douro
Quinta das Bágeiras Garrafeira 2009, red, Bairrada
Quinta das Bágeiras Garrafeira 2004, white, Bairrada
Quinta de Chocapalha Arinto 2011, white, Lisboa
Quinta de Chocapalha 2008, red, Lisboa
Quinta de Gomariz Avesso 2012, white, Vinho Verde
Quinta de Paços Casa do Capitão-mor 2011, white, Vinho Verde
Quinta do Noval 2008, red, Douro
Quinta do Pinto Estate Collection 2011, red, Alenquer
Quinta do Portal Reserva 2008, red, Douro
Quinta do Sagrado, Mutante 2007, red, Douro
Quinta Seara d’Ordens TalentVs Grande Escolha 2010, red, Douro
Rui Reguinga Enologia, Terrenus 2011, Alentejo
Secret Spot Wines, Vale da Poupa Moscatel Galego 2012, white, Douro
Soalheiro Alvarinho 2012, white, Vinho Verde
Soalheiro Primeiras Vinhas 2012, white, Vinho Verde
Sogevinus Fine Wines, Burmester Tordiz 40 anos, Porto Tawny
Solar das Bouças Loureiro 2012, white, Vinho Verde
Symington Family Estates, Graham’s Single Harvest 1969, Porto Tawny
Vidigal Wines, Brutalis 2010,red, Lisboa
Wine & Soul, Quinta da Manoella Vinhas Velhas 2010, red, Douro
Bolo Rei is Portugal’s king of cakes. It’s traditionally eaten throughout the Christmas season, but mostly on January 6 which is known as King’s day.
The date is when the three kings arrived in Jerusalem to greet the newborn baby Jesus. The legend is that the three kings were disputing which one of them would be the first to give their gift to Jesus. Upon their travels they met a baker who baked a cake with a bean inside it.
Which ever one of them got the slice of cake with the bean would give their gift first. Through the years coins and trinkets were added to the cake instead of the bean which would bring good luck upon the bearer.
The cake was introduced to Portugal by the Confeitaria National bakery run by the Casteneira family for over 100 years.
Visit the website for the history of the origin of the recipe at confeitarianacional.com.
Watch the video of the famous bakery at: <a href="”>www.portugaldailyview.com/portuguese-christmas-cakes
Bolo Rei recipe from: Cascaistravel.com
2 tbsp active yeast
2 tsp granulated sugar
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup warm water
1 cup finely chopped assorted crystallized fruit
1/2 cup seedless raisins
1 tsp finely grated lemon rind
1 tsp finely grated orange rind
2 tablespoons port wine
1 tablespoon rum
1 1/4 stick butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 egg yolks
4 cups all purpose plain wheat flour
1/3 cup warm milk
1/4 cup chopped almonds
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
2 tbsp pine nuts
a dried broad bean (fava) wrapped in greaseproof paper (optional)
a small coin or other trinket (wrapped in greaseproof paper (optional)
Crystallized fruit of your choice, such as pineapple, cherries, or figs
Prepare the yeast mixture
In a small bowl mix together the yeast, sugar and flour and enough warm water to create a smooth dough. Cover and set aside to rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes or until it has doubled in size
For the Dough
In another bowl add the chopped crystallized fruit, raisins, grated lemon and orange peel, port wine and rum. Leave the fruit to soak up the liquid while you prepare the dough.
In a large bowl beat the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Beat in the eggs and egg yolks one at a time, adding a little of the flour now and then if you feel the mixture will curdle. Using a spoon, gradually beat in half of the remaining flour and the milk.
Then add the yeast mixture to the dough making sure it is evenly blended together.
Add the almonds, walnuts and pine nuts and the crystallized fruit mixture.
Lightly mix in as much of the remaining flour as you need to create a sticky bread like dough and until all the fruit and nuts are evenly covered by the dough.
Cover and leave to rise in a warm place for about one hour or until it has doubled in size.
Take the dough and knead for about one minute, then shape into a round loaf and place on a greased baking tray.
Using your thumbs, open up a hole in the middle of the dough so that you are left with a wreath shape, or crown, about 25cms wide. You can grease a small empty food jar with vegetable oil and place it in the middle of the wreath to keep the hole open while you work on the topping.
Make a hole with a knife on one side of the wreath and push the wrapped broad bean into the dough. Choose another spot on the wreath, make a hole with the knife and push the wrapped coin into the dough.
Decorate the wreath with a few crystallized fruits. Beat the egg and brush over the wreath. Cover and let rise in a warm place for about one hour or until it has doubled in size.
Remove the food jar and bake in a preheated over at 190 degrees C for about 40 minutes or until golden brown. Cool and dust with icing sugar.
Christmas Tree in Lisbon
“Feliz Natal” or “Boas Festas” translates to “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays”! The Holiday season in Portugal is celebrated as a time for family, of giving and sharing.
Towns and homes are decorated with lights and with “Scenes of the Nativity”, or the Presépio which is the main focal point of the Christmas decorations in the Portuguese homes. Some towns mount a living Nativity Scene, with locals and live animals playing the roles at scene at the birth of Christ.
The creche scene was the idea of St. Francis of Assisi in the 13th Century to re-create the stable where Jesus was born at Christmas.
According to the gospels, the crib represents the stable where Jesus was born, a place that is still worshiped in Bethlehem today, at the Basilica of the Nativity.
Based on the interpretation of the Old Testament gospels, the Nativity was represented in the 4th century by the image of the Baby Jesus lying on the ground, accompanied by figures representing the ox, the donkey and the shepherds. The representation of the Crib began to spread from the 8th century onwards.
In Portugal, many creche scenes have locally crafted clay figures. In the cribs at Estremoz and Barcelos, as well as to the baroque cribs designed by the sculptor Machado de Castro at the Lisbon cathedral or by the sculptor António Ferreira at the Basílica da Estrela.
The nativity from the 18th century is centered around the Nativity and the arrival of the Three Wise Men at Bethlehem, but it also recreates Portuguese rural settings, crafts, professions and clothing worn at that time that are now longer used.
You can find famous Creche here and listings of permanent Creche displays all over the world at friendsofthecreche.org.
Crib sculptor by Machado de Castro at Lisbon Cathedral
Crib Sculpture by António Ferreira at the Basílica da Estrela
Christmas Nativity Portugal
Consoada – Christmas Eve Dinner
On Christmas Eve, a family dinner known as the night of the “Consoada” is celebrated. The word Consoada refers to a small meal that is taken at the end of a day´s fasting and derives from the Latin word consolare, meaning “to comfort”.
For most Catholics, (Advent) the period of preparation for Christmas, begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas.
Advent is also refereed to as “little Lent,” because, like lent, it is a time of repentance and fasting. Fasting during Advent used to be universal, most Western Christians today treat Advent as a “Before Christmas Day”.
In the North of Portugal (Minho, Porto and Guimarães), it is the custom for people to reserve places at the table set for the Consoada supper for those relatives who have recently passed away, or else to leave the table laid and a candle or lamp lit throughout the night to comfort and warm their souls. Some families light a “Christmas log,” or cepo de Natal, a piece of oak that burns on the hearth.
Traditionally, the Christmas Eve supper consists of abstaining from meat dishes. The traditional fish, is Bacalhau (salted cod), but other regions eat Polvo (Octopus), or another fish. Many appetizers such as, Bolinhos de Bacalhau, Rissois de Camarao, and many other treats are served. Christmas day meals usually consist of meat dishes such as roast Pork, chicken, or lamb.
Bolos de Bacalhau – Cod Fish Cakes
Rissois de Camarao – Shrimp Turnovers
Polvo – Octopus
Bacalhau – Salt Cod
Bacalhau a Gomes de Sa – Salt Cod
Traditional Christmas treats such as Portuguese cheeses, nuts, and fruits and many desserts adorn the Christmas diner table. The most popular desserts are: “filhoses or filhós“, “Sonhos“, “Rabanadas”, “Aletria”, “Arroz Doce”, and “Pao de Lo” are some of the favorites. Many other regional desserts are prepared according to ancient recipes that are passed on from generation to generation.
The Bolo Rei (literally the King Cake) is a cake made in the shape of a crown, filled and decorated with dry and crystallized fruits. Hidden inside the cake are a broad bean and a surprise gift. The person who ends up with the slice containing the broad bean is traditionally the one who should provide the next cake. The cake is eaten on Christmas and also on “Dia de Reis” the 12th day of Christmas – Day of Epiphany, when the Three Wise Men arrived at the Nativity and brought gifts to baby Jesus.
Bolo Rei – Kings Cake
Sonhos – Choux Pastry Puffs
Rabanadas – French Toast
Aletria – Sweet Angle Hair Dessert
Pao de lo – Sponge Cake
Arroz doce – Sweet Rice Pudding
Filhos – Fried Pastry Dough
Pasteis de Nata – Custard Cups
Missa do Galo – Midnight Mass
Missa do Galo or midnight mass, is a custom among Catholics who celebrate Christmas. The Missa do Galo was first included the Christmas celebrations during the 5th century. It is celebrated at midnight, which is the time referred to as being “in galli cantu” (at cock crow), and it was originally the first of three masses comprising the liturgy of Christmas Day.
During the Missa do Galo, people can admire the crib, which has been specially prepared for the occasion, and, after communion, everyone moves up to the altar to “kiss the Baby Jesus”, an act that is sometimes accompanied by songs of worship.
In the regions of Bragança, Guarda or Castelo Branco, a Yule log is burned in the atrium of the village church after mass. It helps keep everyone warm through the night and to wish family and friends a Merry Christmas.
Santa Claus is named “Pai Natal” (father Christmas). Some families open the presents on Christmas Eve at midnight, while others wait until after Midnight mass. Many open the gifts after the Christmas Eve diner. Others open them in the morning of the 25th, Christmas Day. Some families put one shoe of each child next to the chimney or fireplace instead of a stocking. Children right letters to baby Jesus asking for gifts rather than Santa Claus.
Ano Novo – New Year
Traditionally, people go out to the streets to sing “Janeiras” (January songs) between December 25 and January 6. The Janeiras (January songs) is a Portuguese tradition consists of a group of people strolling the streets of a town singing in the New Year.
To the modern eye, Janeiras is like Christmas caroling as this tradition involves a group of friends or neighbors going from house to house singing and sometimes playing instruments. While singing, they review the most important events of the year with a spirit of happiness and great humor. They sing traditional songs and those who pass by are wished a Happy New Year full of luck.
Once the song is done the singers are rewarded with chestnuts, nuts, apples, and cured sausages. These days, chocolates are often offered too. The Janeiras tradition varies from region to region.
In the Algarve, residents form charolas, which are spontaneously formed groups that join together to sing songs of both a religious and a secular nature.
Also in the Algarve, singers receive traditional alms such as one of the seasonal sweet fritters or a glass of brandy. Every year, the municipality of Silves has a festival in January to welcome in the New Year by singing.
New Year’s Eve in Portugal is filled with celebrations. People get together in the 31st December, usually for dinner, and celebrate all night long, saying goodbye to the old year and welcoming the new one — hoping it will bring only good things.
The party in Madeira is renowned for being the most dazzling, with a display of light and color over the whole island you can even see from the ocean. At midnight, there’s a fireworks display in every town.
Everyone eats 12 raisins, with one wish for each month, and drinks champagne to bring in the New Year.
Dia de Reis – Kings Day – Day of Epiphany
“Dia de Reis” known as the day of the Epiphany is on the 12th day of Christmas. Children put out their shoes, with carrots and straw to attract the camels of the Three Wise Men hoping that the shoes will be filled with gifts in the morning.
Bolo Rei (King Cake) is a particular favorite of the Portuguese during Christmas and is traditionally eaten on January 6, day of Epiphany. The date when the three kings arrived in Jerusalem to greet the newborn baby Jesus. The legend is that the three kings were disputing which one of them would be the first to give their gift to Jesus. Upon their travels they met a baker who baked a cake with a bean inside it. Which ever one of them got the slice of cake with the bean would give their gift first. Through the years coins and trinkets were added to the cake instead of the bean which would bring good luck upon the bearer. Whoever gets the bean has to buy the “Bolo Rei” (King Cake) in the coming year.
New Year in Madeira
During the family reunion on Christmas Eve it is customary in each madeiran household to have chicken broth, apart from other meat dishes. Also, families usually drink the typical homemade tangerine, orange and anise liqueurs or even a glass of Madeira Wine.
On Christmas Day, generally one chooses pork loin marinated in wine and garlic dish or stuffed turkey.
Other common sweets delicacies of this holiday season are the “family cake”, the Madeira Honey Cake, apart from the popular butter rings or honey or butter biscuits.
Meat in Wine and Garlic
1 kg porkloin (with some fat)
2 cups of wine vinegar
Rock salt, to taste
10 garlic cloves
Bread slices, as needed
Pepper, marjoram, savory
Cut the meat in cubes and season with salt. On the following day, make a marinade with the vinegar, garlic, bay leaves, pepper and herbs. Place the meat in the marinade for at least three days, in a clay pot. Fry with the marinade and serve with the bread, fried in the grease, baked sweet potatoes, fried cornmeal and orange slices.
Family or Black Cake
500 g flour
500 g sugar
250 g butter
125 g lard
6 teaspoons of sugar cane molasses
Ground cinnamon, to taste
Nutmeg, to taste
2 teaspoons of baking soda
1/2 L milk
1 wine glass of Sweet Madeira wine
Dried fruit (raisins, nuts, etc.)
Mix well all the ingredients. Pour in a greased pan and bake in a very hot oven.
Secret: the drier the fruit, the longer the cake lasts, up to 5 days. This cake is initially beaten vigorously by hand.
Madeira Honey Cake
Ingredients for the leavening:
500 g unleavened flour
30 g leavening (baker’s yeast)
about 3 dl water
Knead the flour with the yeast, make a ball, cover with plastic and let rise for 2 to 3 hours.
1000 g unleavened flour
350 g sugar
300 g butter
150 g lard
clove (about 1.5 g)
fennel (about 1.5g)
15 g cinnamon
50 g nuts
50 g chopped almonds
400 g mixed crystallized fruit
150 g sultanas
15 g baking soda
juice of 1 orange
8 dl Madeira molasses
2 dl Madeira wine
Mix the butter with the sugar until creamy, add spices and juice of an orange and a little lemon zest. Melt the molasses and lard together and add to mixture. Add the flour and baking soda and mix for about five minutes. Add to this dough the leaven previously kneaded and continue to mix for an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Lastly, add the crystallized fruit and mix for an additional five minutes. Let rise for 24 hours. Place the dough in greased and wax paper-lined pans (only the bottom of the pan) and decorate the cakes with almonds and nuts on top. Bake them in a 190o degree oven, for 25 minutes. Honey cake is broken by hand.
NOTE: Use pans with removable bottoms, with a diameter of 15 cm and a height of 4 cm and place dough 3 cm high.
1 l sugar cane rum
1 l water
Rinds of 6/7 tangerines (large and ripe)
Finely cut the tangerine rind, with no white so as to not be bitter. Steep the rinds in the sugar cane rum for 15 days. Once the steeping time has passed, add water and sugar and heat to make simple syrup.
Add simple syrup to the sugar cane rum, removing rinds and filtering the liqueur. It is now ready to serve.