Cider can be found anywhere. Yes, you have to look harder in Portugal than you do in France or the United Kingdom, but it’s there. Part of all my cider adventures includes planning, and I actually enjoy it. Just like vacation, we usually like to have a rough plan or outline of what we want to experience, but leave some flexibility so we can adapt based on the situations. Heading to the beach or hiking outside when it’s pouring rain may not be the best idea, especially if the next day promises nicer weather. The same is true for my cider adventures. I often find a couple firm “must visit” locations and then have some alternatives or even chance ideas. That is how our trip to Porto, Portugal played out. Besides wanting to see and experience some awesome historic sites and food, I marked a couple must see locations for hard cider. It’s not like our visits to Brittany, France, or Somerset, England, where cider seems to be omnipresent. It was more like my cider adventures to Phoenix, but with much better food and sights to explore.
If you didn’t know, Porto is famous for its port wine. Port is a fortified wine that has various styles like Ruby and Tawny. The style often defines how and the amount of time it is aged, and it is not uncommon for Tawny ports to age for over 40 years. One interesting point is that port wine isn’t actually produced in Porto. The grapes are grown and processed in the Douro River Valley, which is miles upstream from Porto. Porto is where the port caves are located. This is where the wine is aged, stored, and ultimately distributed. The caves are actually on the south side of the Douro River in the town of Gaia. Originally the barrels of wine were shipped down the river on boats called barcos rabelos. Walking across the Luis Bridge from Porto to Gaia provides gorgeous views and while the boats are no longer used to transport port, they still float anchored along the shore for the annual races and events. It’s a hilly city, so have some good walking shoes. Exploring the city sites and port caves of Gaia will only ensure you’re hungry and thirsty, but just because Porto is famous for port doesn’t mean you can’t find cider. I identified two place near our apartment to visit.
The first was Catraio Craft Beer Shop & Bar, which is a lovely shop in the Cedofeita neighborhood. Yes, it’s a craft beer shop, but they also carry 5-6 bottles of various ciders as well as having at least one on tap. I tried a local Portuguese cider from Vadia Cerveja Artesanal simply called Sidra Frutas Vermelhos or Red Fruit Cider. It is an adjunct cider made with cherry and a couple other red fruit, but the cherry is what dominates in a good way. It has a wonderful red hue, a fruity aroma, and a tart cherry finish. We sipped our cider while people watching out the front window of the shop before chatting with the owners about local Portuguese cider makers and the cider scene in Porto. We then bought a Portuguese cider to take with us back to the apartment for later. It’s not Brittany, France, but it’s also a few steps above the scene in southern Arizona. In fact, the take-away bottle was a collaborative project between MUSA and a French cidery. It was excellent. The shop owners recommended we visit Celta Endovélico, a local Sidraria located in the the northern part of the Baixa neighborhood and close to the Trindade metro station. It was already on our list!
Celta Endovélico is a cider lovers dream. It’s a Sidraria versus a wine bar or beer pub, which means it has lots of ciders along with some beer and wine versus only a few token ciders. It literally has a case featuring ciders from around the world. You know it’s a good omen when there are several bottles of Oliver cider sitting in the case. The Sidraria is Celtic themed, which might seem like they are trying to appropriate a foreign culture, but you may not realize that Celta culture extends into the Iberian Peninsula. Celta Endovélico serves amazing ciders from around the globe along with some superb tapas and other food choices. It’s got food for vegetarians as well as meat lovers. Try the Scotch eggs. We opted for the premium cider flight and a sampling of vegetarian dishes. Names like Westeros Chips and Dungeon & Dragons rolls only made me like them more. To say I enjoyed myself, was an understatement and it wasn’t just the food and cider. It was also the connection I made with the proprietor, Jaime. I spent too long talking to him about cider. For a cider and apple geek, Celta Endovélico is a slice of heaven. Here is some eye candy for cider and food lovers.
Cider adventures can be found everywhere. Sometimes you have to look for them, other times, you can’t miss them. While Porto may not be the cider Mecca of England, France or even Spain, its history, food, and people make it worth planning your own cider adventure. Also, the Spanish Asturias cider region isn’t that far away if you want to make it a multiple stop trip. If you are worried about language in Porto, don’t be. While I have a Portuguese base from living in Brazil, the Portuguese proved themselves excellent English speakers and extremely helpful. You also get to see some awesome sites wandering the city of Porto, but bring your walking shoes and enjoy the wonderful city.
2 thoughts on “Cider Adventures: Porto, Portugal”
How serendipitous, I will be in Portugal at the end of next month – I have taken note!
Enjoy! It’s a beautiful country!
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