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Portugal: Europe’s astonishing food giant

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The cooking of mainland Europe’s westernmost country is deeply rooted in the heart of local ingredients.

Superlative seafood, sun-ripened fruit, lamb raised on flower-speckled meadows, free-range pigs gorging on acorns beneath oak forests.

Without them, it just doesn’t taste the same.

So while diners worldwide crowd Italian trattorias, French bistros and Spanish tapas bars, Portuguese restaurants abroad generally cater to melancholy emigrants seeking in vain to matar saudades (kill their longing) for mom’s home-cooked food.

Things are changing.

The success of Portuguese chefs like George Mendes in New York and Nuno Mendes (no relation) in London is generating a global buzz and their creating a legacy in food industries about the cooking of their homeland.

Regular visitors have long been in on the secret, but here are 20 reasons why Portugal should be on every foodie traveler’s list.

 

  1. Piscivore perfection

In Europe, only Icelanders eat more fish than the Portuguese.

Superstar chef Ferran Adria says seafood from Portugal’s Atlantic waters is the world’s best — and he’s Spanish.

Markets glimmer with a startling variety, from baby cuttlefish to U-boat-sized tuna.

If your food heaven is fresh seabass expertly barbequed with a hint of lemon, garlic and olive oil, this is the place.

Best eaten by the sea in restaurants like Sao Roque in Lagos, Restinga in Alvor, Furnas in Ericeira, Azenhas do Mar or Restaurante da Adraga west of Sintra, Ribamar in Sesimbra, or Doca do Cavacas on Madeira island.

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st.nuno correia

  1. Liquid gold

Drive the backroads of the Alentejo, Beira Interior and Tras-os-Montes regions and you’ll weave through endless olive groves.

Olive oil is the basis of Portuguese cooking, whether it’s used to slow-cook salt-cod, dribbled into soups or simply soaked up with hot-from-the-oven bread.

Exports have quadrupled over the past decade as the world wakes up and smell the coffee to the quality of Portugal’s liquid gold, either from big-time producers like Gallo and Oliveira da Serra, or hand-crafted, single-farm oils.

The latest prize: a gold medal for Olmais Organic oil at the World’s Best Olive Oils awards in New York.

 

  1. The national boiled dinner

Portugal’s cooking is rigorously regional: meaty and robust in the north, Mediterranean in the south.

Yet one dish unites the country: cozido.

Best eaten as a big family lunch, this is a boiled one-pot featuring a hunk of beef, various piggy bits, sometimes chicken, always cabbage, potatoes, carrots, turnips and an array of sausage, including paprika-spiced chourico and cumin-flavored blood pudding.

  1. Lisbon’s gourmet awakening

A new generation of chefs is shaking up the capital’s restaurant scene with ultra-modern takes on gastronomic tradition.

Leading the charge is Jose Avillez.

His Belcanto restaurant facing the Sao Carlos theater won a second Michelin star in 2014.

Its menu features braised red mullet with liver sauce, clams and cornmeal; oxtail with foie gras, chickpeas and creamy sheep cheese.

Rivals include Henrique Sa Pessoa’s new Alma restaurant, just round the corner and wowing diners with the likes of hake with burnt leek and hazelnuts; or Joao Rodrigues, voted chef-of-the-year with his riverside Feitoria.

  1. King cod

They say Portugal has 365 recipes for cooking salt cod.

In fact there are many more.

Bacalhau is served “a bras” with scrambled eggs, olives and fries; as fish cakes (pasteis de bacalhau) alongside black-eyed-peas; barbequed, oven-baked or simply boiled with cabbage and carrots, then drizzled in olive oil.

Crumbled with cornbread in the university city of Coimbra, baked under mayonnaise Ze-do-Pipo-style in Porto, chopped into a favorite Lisbon salad with chickpeas and onion, bacalhau is always close to the Portuguese soul.

It’s available everywhere, but Lisbon’s Laurentina restaurant may just serve the best.

 

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  1. Say Queijo

Why Portugal’s cheeses are not better known is a mystery.

True, amarelo da Beira Baixa — a herby goat-and-sheep-milk mix, was judged the world’s greatest in a tasting organized by Wine Spectator and Vanity Fair a few years back.

Yet creamy Serra da Estrela from the milk of ewes raised in Portugal’s loftiest mountain range; hard, pungent cow’s-milk cheeses made on the precipitous mid-Atlantic slopes of Sao Jorge island; or peppery Terrincho produced in remote Tras-os-Montes, remain largely unknown.

Such dairy delights may be served as appetizers or after a meal with red wine or port, sometimes accompanied with quince jam (marmelada).

 7.So much wine

For a small country Portugal makes an astonishing variety of great wines.

Summery vinho verdes from the green northwest.

 

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Culture and Heritage sites major attraction among Tourists

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Culture and Heritage sites

Culture and Heritage has always been a major object of travel for several years. Even today most traveler look at exploring the Cultural and heritage of aspect of the place they visit. The Traveler’s like to understand a country or regions’ culture, lifestyle of people, history of the country, art & architecture and any other elements that are important part of day to day life.

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Thailand’s best cultural World Heritage Sites

Cultural tourism as defined by the World Tourism -“trips, whose main or concomitant goal is visiting the sites and events whose cultural and historical value has turn them being a part of the cultural heritage of a community”.

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Taj Mahal Agra

In recent years, ‘culture’ has been rediscovered as an important marketing tool to attract travellers who have special interests in heritage and arts. As we see the growth pattern in the travel industry, Culture and Heritage tourism has always played a major role and is one of the most important segments of the tourism industry. Cultural tourism forms a base for most travel planners.

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World Heritage Sites of Nepal

Cultural tourism has a positive economic and social impact. This segment also helps in preservation of cultural heritage and monuments. Also facilitates tourism in rural areas and helps in boosting their economic and social growth.

Culture can be split into two circles:

Inner Circle – represents the more traditional or basic elements of Cultural tourism and can be split into Tourism of art heritage – which relates to cultural assets and products of the past and tourism of art which relates to Presentation of visual arts, modern architecture, literature etc.

Outer Circle – Is the way of life or style of living of the population in a particular place and can be split into life style – elements such as cuisines, traditions, folklore etc and creativity – fashion, graphic design, cinema, entertainment etc.

In some places both these aspects form an offering which are mutually complementing each of the them.
Based on above, following are some subcategories of cultural tourism which are able to contribute to and motivate visitors:

– Heritage Tourism
– Art Tourism
– Urban Culture Tourism
– Rural Culture Tourism
– Contemporary Tourism

Jay Kantawala from WIYO Travel feels that Indians should also explore the Cultural tourism aspect of India apart from the International trips. Indian states of Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh also have a lot to offer to clients with interest in Cultural tourism.

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Indulge yourself into Culinary Paradise of Vietnam

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Food is a very important part of Vietnamese culture and life. Vietnamese food is deeply influenced by historical and cultural conditions of the country and varies in different parts of the country. There are about 54 ethnical groups in the country that stretches 3,260 kms along the seashore with subtropical climate. Vietnamese cuisine is partially influenced by neighboring countries and the French who dominated Vietnam as a colony from late 19th to middle 20th century.

Vietnamese cuisine has a balance of salty, sweet, hot flavours and sour, these flavours are achieved through cane sugar, fish sauce, chili peppers or tamarind. The locals use plenty of local herbs and their food is not overly spicy. Chili or Chili sauce is usually served separately.

Rice Culture in Vietnam
Vietnam has two large deltas: the Red River Delta in the North and the Mekong in the South. Vietnam used to be the 2nd largest rice exporter in the world, however in the year 2011 they have dropped to 5th largest rice exporter in the world. They supply around 8% of world’s rice.

Vietnamese people consider a meal with rice as a ‘main meal’; if a meal is without rice they land up considering as a snack. During lunch or dinner rice is usually placed in the middle of the table before other foods are arranged surrounding the rice. This is the traditional Vietnamese style usually followed even today by locals at home.

Local Drinks in Vietnam
– Rice wine is one of the most popular drinks amongst locals, usually had with a meal. In recent times local and international beers are also getting popular.
– People of Northern Vietnam usually enjoy hot tea or coffee as against people of Southern part, who prefer iced tea.
– French colonists probably introduced Coffee to Vietnam and Coffee is a local habit, Vietnamese coffee is strong and flavourful. Locals also enjoy iced coffee that is usually served with condensed milk.
– Green tea with pistils of lotus or petals of jasmine is popular. Traditional lotus tea is time consuming and can be far more expensive then dry green tea.

Most popular Food preparations of Vietnam

Goi Cuon (Vietnamese Spring Rolls) – Translucent spring rolls packed with greens, coriander and may be combination of different meats. It is amongst the most popular dishes.

Pho (Pho is pronounced as ‘fur’) is Vietnam’s National dish and serves as staple food, a noodle soup that is eaten at any time of the day, primarily at breakfast. The basic bowl of pho consists of a light chicken or beef broth flavoured with ginger and coriander to which one adds broad, flat rice noodles, spring onions and slivers of chicken, pork or beef. One can also enjoy vegetarian Pho in few places.

Cha Ca – Is a very popular seafood preparation in Vietnam, it is devised in Hanoi and more popular in this region. The preparation is white fish sautéed in butter with dill and spring onions then served with rice noodles and a scattering of peanuts. Chili sauce and other sauces are served as accompaniments along with the main dish.

Vegetarian meals – Vegan or Vegetarian meals are getting popular in Vietnam. A Buddhist temple or pagodas can amaze you with chicken, fish or meat form, however they are actually prepared from taro, potato, tofu or lotus seeds and vegetables.

According to Jay Kantawala, founder of WIYO Travel, The taste of the Vietnamese cuisine is distinct and unforgettable. If one is visiting Vietnam, they should spare some time just to trying different local cuisines during the trip” Jay recommends.

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Tourism prime focus besides IT in Andaman & Nicobar Islands

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Port Blair and Around
Port Blair and Around, Photo Source www.andamans.gov.in

Port Blair, Nov 22: With tourist footfall going up by 23 per cent in the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago, the authorities have decided to heavily invest in the sector as well as in information technology (IT) to ensure holistic development of the islands, stakeholders say.

“Tourism and It would be our prime focus. At least four lakh tourists come to the islands every year and stay for four days on an average. The amount of money tourists would spend on amenities like drinking water, food and lodging, would be a major boost for the island’s economy if the number keeps on increasing,” local MP Bishnupada Ray told a select group of visiting mediapersons in this capital of the Union territory.

“Development is needed as it is a secluded place, far from the mainland. However, with proper connectivity and infrastructure, the amount of natural resources and potential the Andamans have, can feed all of India,” he added.

According to the Andaman and Nicobar administration, the number of tourists increased by 23 per cent from around 3.25 lakh in 2015 to over 400,000 in 2016.

“The administration does not levy any tax on the tourists. With the boom in tourism, the revenue that would come from the food and hospitality sectors would certainly benefit the region’s economy,” Chief Secretary Anindo Majumdar told IANS.

“According to our estimate, from the tourism sector alone, the government would earn revenues of nearly Rs 400-500 crore ($61-77 million) every year,” he said.

The archipelago, endowed with picturesque landscapes, sterling beaches and nature’s generous gifts, is eyeing a sustained flow of high-end tourists.

“Promotion of tourism, including high-end tourism, in a sustainable manner is one of the developmental priorities of the administration,” Majumdar said.

The islands — nearly 1,300 kilometres west of the Indian mainland in the Bay of Bengal — are a tourists’ paradise. The Union territory comprises 608 emerald islands with exotic names, out of which only 31 are inhabited. It overall enjoys a whopping 94 percent of forest cover.

One can laze around the enticing beaches at Havelock Island, or Ross and Smith — the twin islands joined by a bewitching sandbar. Sea-bathing and sun-basking at the Corbyn’s Cove beach helps one to unwind and de-stress while the Hilltop Gallows on Viper Island and Port Blair’s Cellular Jail are sure to overwhelm visitors with a sense of patriotism as the clock ticks back to the days of India’s freedom struggle.

The majority of tourists visit Port Blair, Ross and Havelock, which are home to various adventure sports like scuba diving, snorkeling and sea-walking.

Havelock, probably the most coveted tourist destination for its famous Radhanagar and Laxmanpur sea beaches, stands tall among all the islands, that are far less accessible for the majority of tourists.

Ray said massive infrastructural development has taken wings for the expansion of National Highway 4 that would connect north, middle and south Andamans.

Also the civilian and army airports are being upgraded and the number of flights from the mainland as well as within the islands would significantly increase in the near future under the Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik (UDAN) flight scheme.

Conceding that building heavy industries in the islands was difficult due to its distance from the mainland, Ray said a massive Rs 1,102 crore project for laying an undersea optical fibre cable (OFC) between Chennai and Port Blair will open up new horizons for the IT sector.

“We are also focusing on building the Andamans as an IT hub as the fibre optic is coming from the mainland. All the major islands like Port Blair, Havlock, Long Island, Diglipur, Rangat, Nicobar would get the benefit of internet in the coming days.”

IANS

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