Alentejo is certainly one of our favorite regions when it comes to gastronomy. In fact, in a region where we often see the black pig on the loose by the mount and where the green that contrasts with the dry hay is extensive vines, there is no lack of options that surprise us and give us a special taste.
So, in this third and last post regarding our weekend in Alentejo we will explore these two aspects of the region: its gastronomy and Alentejo wine, so famous here and beyond and that has propelled the Alentejo wine tourism to the mouths of the World.
Restaurant Sabores de Monsaraz
As referenced in the post about our itinerary in Alentejo lands, we chose to have our gastronomic experience in a privileged place between the historical walls of the village of Monsaraz and the strong blue of the Alqueva reservoir, the Sabores de Monsaraz restaurant. Located in a typical Alentejo house near the center of the village we chose this restaurant for its fame, with multiple references in the “Good bed, good table” guide of the expresso newspaper and a reference in the Michelin guide, and adding to this also the excellent list of positive opinions which we received from our friends.
Soon after entering the place, we are infected by the good disposition and vibrant energy of Dona Isabel, the owner and main cook of the house. We are sent to a table with a privileged view to the Alqueva dam and we are quickly served a traditional bag of fabric with pattern where we find the Alentejo bread.
The entrees are delicious and between the black pork sausage, the cured cheese and the curd with honey it becomes very difficult to choose our favorite. A constant since the beginning of the meal is the perfect combination between the strong flavors of the Alentejo and the wine, so kindly suggested by our hostess. For the main dish the choice could only be two typical dishes of the Alentejo: Grilled black pork loins and cod crumbs.
About the delicacies we have chosen we can say that they were truly fantastic and that Alentejo gastronomy has a characteristic we have so often sought: The flavor that takes us to the source of the ingredients, a journey through the centuries-old traditions that passed from generation to generation and culminates with the strong desire to try these dishes more often.
In order to close this experience, which was already spectacular, the choice was quick and welcomed with a smile from Dona Isabel. The dessert chosen was the famous sericaia, a convent recipe started in the Alentejo by the nuns of the convent of Elvas and Vila Viçosa. The taste is unique and unforgettable, however, one should not eat in large quantity because it is relatively heavy.
In the end we were a little bit in the conversation with Dona Isabel, a woman full of strength and dynamism and with a sympathy that we do not encounter every day. It is possible that this is the reason why almost all the clients that pass by end up coming back, as it happens with many Spaniards who have become regular customers.
This is undoubtedly one of those restaurants that summarize in one place an entire region and this is only possible with a quality and authenticity like the one that Dona Isabel so diligently maintains in this house.
Ervideira Wine Lounge
That the Alentejo wines are the best in our country, many of us already knew and even in the ranges of lower value the Alentejo wine rarely disapoints, but recently this fact crossed borders and even oceans, having the Alentejo been highlighted in New York Times in 2015, especially for its enotourism experiences.
We also wanted to try a little of this which is one of the most dynamic activities of Alentejo and for that, we visited the famous Ervideira winery. The history of this one that is one of the most famous wineries of the Alentejo dates back to the 19th century, with the Count of Ervideira, title attributed by King D. Carlos I. Wine production began in 1880 in Monte da Ribeira and has remained a family business from the first moment up to the present day.
However, not only of history is success made, and the proof of this is the Wine Lounge Ervideira where we were so well received. This large, glass-enclosed room has a design that takes any wine connoisseur to spend a good chunk of time exploring the modern-style shelves filled with bottles. This was the beginning of our experience, followed by a passage through the zones of fermentation and maturation of the wine.
We were fortunate to have a guided tour just for us and this, coupled with the fact that the guide was extremely friendly and knowledgeable about the wine world (and not only Ervideira) made this activity a true didactic and cultural itinerary and also a sharing experience knowledge and impressions.
At the end of the visit, waiting for us was a table full of traditional Alentejo products, from cheese to chorizo, from olive oil to bread. The wine tasting was fantastic, and the quality of the wines presented is outstanding, not only for texture and taste, but for the always perfect connection with the other typical products of the region.
If there are moments that mark a trip, this was one of them, because we felt that all the Alentejo was there, in the sympathy of who received us, the quality of the regional products and the spectacular wine, that unites all this in a unique arrangement.
We want to give a special thank you to the Ervideira wine cellar for the offer they made us and, above all, the way we were received. We are sure that your authenticity and smile always present make this experience something unforgettable and, above all, extremely enriching.