Sunday, May 24, 2015

There... and back.

So I have just done something very un-American.  I have jetted off to Europe for a 5 week vacation. Unless you are a college student on summer break or an independently wealthy individual, no one in this country takes more than a couple of weeks for a vacation.  And as I am neither of those things, it must be because I am married to an Australian.
It all started very innocently, with a dinner table discussion with our TFS cooking group.  "Wouldn't it be fun if we all coordinated our vacations so that we could meet up someplace and hang out together?"  Many conversations later we had all agreed to meet in Portugal and spend 5 days eating and drinking, and of course cooking.  Porto was the obvious choice because we all love Port. 
Great!  We're going back to Portugal!  My Aussie husband pointed out that Porto was really only a short drive from the north coast of Spain, a region we had always wanted to explore.  We need to take another week and drive to San Sebastian, I said.  As long as we are going to be in Spain, we should spend a few more days and go to the Jabugo region and eat jamon Iberico, he said.  And then we both agreed that we would have to go to Madeira, as we were so close.  And we really need to be there at least a week...  and then we should spend a few days in Lisbon before we go home. 
And there you have it - 5 wonderful weeks full of excellent wine, delicious food, and great friends.

We started with a few days in Lisbon where we found out about this lovely food and wine festival they have every year - Peixe em Lisboa.  It is way more than fish!  They had booths set up with samples of food and beverage from every region of the country, and then in another huge room local chefs had created dishes featuring flavors from their restaurants.  Most of the plates involved seafood, and they were all quite inventive.  We ate our way through the samples in the first room and barely had room for our actual plate of food that was included in the entry fee of 15 Euros.  Did I also mention that they had beverage "samples"?  Cider, beer and lots and lots of wine.  And some brandy too, I think I remember...  we were quite tipsy by the time we left.  Probably the best 15 Euros we have ever spent!