The Alenetjo region is the south-central part of Portugal, known for it's vast garden landscapes with olive trees, vineyards and cork plantations. We headed inland to the heart of the Alto Alentejo near the village of Vaiamonte, no more than 30 miles from the Spanish border to the Torres de Palma Wine Hotel. I’ve never been this far inland in Portugal.
A beautiful old manor house converted into a hotel with a restaurant, spa, swimming pools and, of course, excellent wine. Dating back to the 14th century, the manor house had been unused for years and then taken over in 2009, renovated and opened in 2013 as Torres de Palma Wine Hotel. It mixes traditional architecture with modern fittings and finishing, perfectly. Greeted by Filipe Beja Simões, he, made us feel very welcomed and told us the most important part of our visit was to make sure we felt at home. The Portuguese are very welcoming. Filipe then took me around the surrounding vineyards that grow the grapes for their red and white wines. , I find noticed an explosion of Portuguese wines in London restaurants and wine stores, and rightfully so. They have a unique flavour and made by passionate people shouting to the world know about their produce. Torres de Palma is no different as young project beginning in 2011 with wines selected for 2014, now in its second year to great response.
Next up was to meet the Lusitano horses that inhabit the grounds next to the vineyards. Originally for trekking now used for dressage, the chosen horse of the Portuguese National Guard and exported all over the world. I’m not exactly that experienced when riding horses, but the Lusitano is known to be patient and trustworthy with ‘young bucks’ like myself ;) Thanks to the trainer Phillipa for her patience and making me ‘sit up straight and show who’s in command’.
Finally with the sun setting we made our way up to the tower with Alentejo's landscape of vineyards and rolling fields as our backdrop to film my recipe. My take on a classic Portuguese handheld snack called Bifana (pork roll) and Filipe kindly sourced us some traditional Alentejo bread rolls (thank you, Filipe!).
After a busy couple of hours we had the ‘shot in the can’ and darkness was upon us and with the stars in the sky we called it 'a wrap'. Even with the minibus packed and a 3-hour journey ahead of us, it was until one of the crew propositioned… “shall we just stay a little longer and have dinner?” We did just that, and I highly recommend the veal and migas :)