Quinta do Francês Vineyard

October 14, 2011

On a day when the rest of the family has gone off to find a beach the Husband and I decided to head into the countryside to check out a spa town in the mountains called Monchique (which was so lovely, but a little remote and felt very cut off from the world) and then on the way I was saying how it didn’t look like we were going to be able to check out any vineyards… then my Husband spotted a sign…

To Quinta do Francês, a vineyard with wine tastings, so we drove up to take a look.

This was the view off to one side of the valley, it was the only cloudy day we had the whole time we were there, and even then the sun broke through a lot and it was still warm.

These are the vines.

We had a little tour from one of the owners; run by a Husband and Wife team, he is French, she is Portuguese. He is a doctor and still practises I think and she runs the vineyard day-to-day.

They have been going since 2002 and producing wine since 2008, winning awards in their first year and most years since.

This is their cellar and producing building. I love its traditional look.


We had a tour of the small winery and Fátima explained their processes and how much wine they make etc, which was all so interesting. They have done so well in such a short time.

Then we had a little taste of the four wine they produce.

The white and rose they make using grapes they buy from others, the reds are their own grapes.

All of them were delicious.

They had to sell a vintage from 2009, which had won an award and a red from 2010 which was about half the price, more of an ‘everyday wine’

We got bottles of each to take home, and to give to my Father in Law who really appreciated a good red.

Check out these bottles! Good for a wedding don’t you think?

I didn’t know anything about Portuguese wine but learnt a little here, about the markets and that not much is exported and I did notice that good wine was really good value in the shops. We never spent more than £6 and a lot we bought was around £3-4 and it was all really great.

You should go visit! Or you can buy online – Quinta do Francês

No Solo Agua Beach Club

October 11, 2011

This is the sister restaurant/beach of the place I blogged yesterday, they are linked but are two separate places.

The beach venue is more of a casual party place I think.

It’s a great beach, very quiet.

Again there is a mix of tables, cabanas and sunloungers.

The menu is pretty much the same, but they also do more snacks and it is all a little more relaxed.

This was where we spent our last day in Portugal, and as I was driving to the airport there were no cocktails for me but I wasn’t left out as they made delicious smoothies here.

There so amazing.

Burgers!

We had to have another Caprese salad!

The chicken satay was amazing.

I loved it here too, burger and fries and smoothies. Delicious!

I had to try another flavour!

One again the club promoter in me so wanted to take it all up again and throw a party here, the dj booth was right in the middle of the tables with a small dance floor; what could me better than a party on the beach? Shall I do it?!

More profiteroles…

It was a great way to spend our last day, although because we were right on the beach with the sea breeze I fully got sunburnt, I was so careful all holiday and then on the last day fried my bottom!

No Solo Agua Club

We found this amazing  beach club on a day trip out that went quite badly at first!

We headed out to check out Portimão, a big town with beaches and shops. On arriving we realised it was a heavy tourist area, all high-rise hotels and apartments and tacky shops and bars.

We had a little walk along the main strip then headed back to the car and decided to try to find the marina.

I am so glad we did!

It was a world away from the main town, with all kinds of yachts! We all picked out our favourite.

Here is mine, an old fishing baot made up all pretty!

So we decided to stop for some lunch and spotted the No Solo Agua Club, we all immediately decided this was the place.

Anywhere with cabana’s is immediately a favourite of mine, there is just something about the idea of spending a day on one of this big beds in the sun by the sea that I love.

Unfortunately we didn’t have time to use the pool on this day, but I could have happily spent the whole day and night here.

The club promoter in me so wanted to throw a party here, or at least go to one.

The food was pretty great too.

We had calamari… with a fresh tomato sauce

A Caprese salad; a huge stack of the juiciest tomatoes and the most amazing mozzarella I have had in a long time.

I ordered a sushi place, and I am not sure if it was the setting and the sunshine but this sushi was the best I have ever had (bearing in mind I have never been to Japan!) I think the freshness of the fish did it.

A seafood stew, in a kind of taco!

Roasted salmon…

Seabass (we’re all about the fish today)

We also made room for pudding, even in the heat.

Crème brûlée

A huge slab of tiramisu…

Massive profiteroles!

A very modern apple tart.

And a beautiful pannacotta.

We loved it here so much we decided to return on our last day, and sadly for us it was closed for a wedding (what a spot for it!), however they also have a more casual restaurant next door on the beach so we went there… and I’ll share that with you tomorrow!

If you are in the area go and spend a day here, it’s lovely. I imagine in high season it is the place to be but it was dead quiet in the pool when we were there, I am booking my ticket for next September now!

No Solo Agua Club

Onze

October 6, 2011

First of all apologies for the silence, I am so busy getting ready to go away and working hard to save pennies, plus see friends before I leave.

I think this is probably how it’s going to be from now on, so your inbox’s will all be saved from daily emails and it will be more irregular for a few months!

So a very random blog today about a restaurant we visited in Portugal (I have a couple more too) but it was so lovely here that we went twice… we were being lazy on holiday yes!
Also when we were looking for places to eat there was very little help other than our eyes and guess-work (not much about this town on trip advisor) and this place was great so I thought I would help future visitors out.

I also think you should all go here on holiday next year. Especially if you ahve never been to Portugal before.

Like I said we went here twice, once with the family and once on date night as the Husband and I like it so much after we couldn’t find anywhere else we really like we just went back here.

I think they’re branding is pretty good as well, compared to what else we saw! They signature col0ur was bright pink, they had beautiful silk cushions and even dyed their flowers to match. Love that.

Also I would like to add that the service was brilliant, our waiter was so friendly and funny and could speak 4 languages fluently! We liked him.

It up a little hill but overlooks the beach, it’s a great view even if you don’t get a table outside (book!)

They bring everyone bread, butter and homemade dips, we got some taramasalata and what we think was a sardine pate. They were really good and they brought us more when we gobbled all this up.

Choosing starters was so hard!

The prawns were so big and meaty and so so fresh just as you’d expect.

Some very tender, juicy pork kebab which were served with a yogurt dressing.

I also tried the calamari. The Husband and I love calamari and he will always order it if and when it’s on offer. He actually had it both times.

The salads were just the kind I like; classics with a few added treats, the greek salad looked so fresh and was perfect for a balmy evening.

As I said before one thing about Portugal was that salad leaves seemed to be very boring, but this did not affect my enjoyment of the salad, a fruity goats cheese salad. You know I love fruit in my dinner.

Another favourite of the Husbands is pizza. When we went out on our date he actually said he wanted calamari then pizza and after a wander we realised we needed Onze as they did both. I didn’t complain I wanted to come here anyway!

This was the Della Mama pizza, very very good. He actually didn’t finish it though as it was very rich as I was stuffed!

On the family night most of us went for fish. This was my cod. I actually feel like I can still taste this just by looking at the photograph, there was a lot of oil but the fish was amazing and so were the potatoes and the tapenade was beautiful. It was a huge portion as well, everyone got to try some of mine!

This was the other favourite; monkfish and prawn skewers with rice. Delicious.

And some went for duck and asparagus risotto, which was a fairly small portion but very rich. I thought it sounded like an odd combination but it was very much enjoyed, so I must be wrong on that!

You know I also love cute bill details, I wish we got to keep this box.

A gratuitous shot of me and my Husband. Missing him lots while he is away!

So Onze is great, you have this beautiful view…

And it is a few steps down the hill to more bars by the beach where you can sit and drink gorgeous fruity cocktails all night.

These were probably my favourite evenings in Portugal and our date night was up there in our top ten dates :)

Onze