Following the trail of Harry Potter in Oporto
The film "Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald", a spin-off written by JK Rowling about the adventures of magizoologist Newt Scamander, comes out this month.
Unlike the Harry Potter saga, which takes place in the UK, "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" is set in the US. But we're pretty sure you didn't know that part of the inspiration for this magical universe was found in a very special city: Oporto. The author lived there in the early 1990s and part of the city's history, architecture and traditions inspired the stories of the young wizard.
Five Great Gourmet Experiences Oporto
You may know Lisbon, but perhaps you’re not yet acquainted with Portugal’s lovely and lively second-largest city, near the northern border. Warning: it will steal your heart. Not to mention your nose, tongue, and palate. The city is replete with bars, cafés, restaurants and wine cellars featuring, well, Port --what else? That’s what the city is named for, or it may be the other way round!
Don’t be put off by the breath-taking belle époquecharm that envelopes and transports you as soon as you come through the door, for the perfectly conserved splendour and luxury of bygone days does not signify inflated prices on the menu. At Café Majestic, which opened in 1921, you can have a wonderful cup of coffee accompanied by pasteis de Belém (buttery cream tarts), as you imagine the spirited discussions amongst politicians, artists and intellectuals that have animated the café for nearly a century.
Average price: 6 euros.
Concept store: A Vida Portuguesa
This is an excellent place to pick out some gifts and souvenirs of your visit to Oporto, and you should look at the local chocolate and even the salt. But for serious foodies, we recommend stuffing your suitcase with tins of the fruits of the sea: octopus, sardines, clams, and much more. The quality will surprise you, as will the very cool packaging. At under five euros per tin, they’ll help you can earn the gratitude of a lot of friends and relatives!
If you’re the type who must try the paella in Spain and the lamb in New Zealand, then you can’t leave Oporto without sitting down to that copious calorie bomb known as a francesinha, a sort of hot Dagwood sandwich from heaven eaten with knife and fork, made with four slices of bread and containing roast veal, fresh sausages, chorizo, bologna, etc., and topped with melted choose slices, and with or without a fried egg. Oh, and the whole concoction is bathed in a semi-spicy sauce. In case that’s not enough, it’s served with a sizable portion of fries. A beer or two to wash it all down, and you’re away! You can get a francesinha in many of Oporto’s bars and restaurants, but we recommend the version served at the popular Café Santiago, in business since 1959, and though you may have to queue to get in, it’s worth the wait. The kitchen is open for all to witness the assembly of the francesinhas, and it’s a fascinating spectacle indeed!
Average price: 12 euros.
If seafood is your passion, and especially if cod is your god, here’s where you’ll have one of the best meals of your life! Elegant, classic, this is not for scruffy tourists but for serious worshippers of fine food, deftly served by an attentive wait staff. A favourite with local aristocrats for their Sunday lunches, O Gaveto is located in the Matosinhos district, a short tram ride, from the city centre, and near the harbour. You should start with the clams and goose barnacles (percebes), and then address the main dish, preferably the roast cod, or the rice with shellfish, keeping in mind that one dish will feed two people generously. The “special” house wine is excellent. You can walk it all off by returning to the centre on foot along the esplanade with its views of the roaring Atlantic.
Average price: 30 euros.
Wine-tasting at the Cellars ofVila Nova de Gaia
Gaia, the city across the wide Douro river from Oporto, is famed for its wineries. All are worth a visit, and the programme is different at each. The Sandman tour offers some history of Oporto as well as wine talk and tasting. Serious wine buffs can sample a variety of exquisite wines at Graham’s. The tours of the Cálem, Fonseca and Kopke establishments are also enjoyable and edifying. (You do like port, don’t you?)
Are you salivating yet? Then don’t wait another minute. Check out our fares here.
Text and photos by Laia Zieger / Gastronomistas
Bacalhau, broth and guts
Porto welcomes its visitors with the best of its rich cuisine. It is placed in an exceptional location, on the banks of the Duero and bathed by the Atlantic Ocean. That favours that in Porto you can eat good seafood, taste the best wines and delight your assorted pastries.
You can find restaurants to suit all tastes and all pockets. You can eat very well for only 5 € in its houses of meals, or in Michelin-starred restaurants, like The Yeatman.
One thing to consider when you sit in a restaurant is that the appetizer being served first, and without asking, is not a present. It has to be paid. This leads sometimes to misunderstandings.
Also, it's common to start a meal at any restaurant with a soup, preparing rich and in many different ways.
One of the areas with more choice of restaurants is Ribeira. It is a very lively place, from which you have the best views over the city. Here you can come to eat the grilled octopus or cod Chez Lapin and "Guts Oporto" da Filha da Mãe Preta.
In the Rua de Aviz there were many of the bookstores in the city. Today it is a hive of trends. Among the new art galleries we found the Book restaurant, where once was sited Livraria Aviz. You will see that all around this place reminds its past as a library.
Wine tourism is one of the best options for the city and its delicacies. To do this it is advisable to cross to the other side of the river, where we can find wineries like Vila Nova de Gai. On this side of the river you can also taste many recipes for cod, which are so famous throughout Portugal, El Bacalhoeiro (Avenida Diogo Leite, 74).
The Café Santiago has a good reputation in serving the best francesinhas, one classic of Oporto´s cuisine. You know that it is true when you see the big queues at their gates in order to get one in Rua Passos Manuel 226. Francesinha is a slice of bread filled with different types of sausage and meat, and covered with melted cheese and bathed in hot sauce. You can imagine that with these kind of ingredients it is a very heavy dish that will fill you with lots of energy; even more if you accompany it, as usual, with a few chips and a cold beer.
In order to know what products are popular in Porto, approach the Bolhao market. It was built in 1914, and it is one of the emblematic buildings to live day by day of tripeiros (gutties). Curious adjective, right? Citizens of Oporto are know tripeiros because, during preparations for the conquest of Ceuta in 1415, they had to turn to the issue all the meat and keep only the gut. Now, as tripas à moda do Porto is in the dish in town!
Francesinha by jfcfar| Tripas a moda do Porto by MariaCartas
A place well worth discovering! Check out our flights here.more info
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