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News > February 2017 > Devouring the Douro: Culinary Discoveries in Portugal

Devouring the Douro: Culinary Discoveries in Portugal

With a larder teeming with hand-caught seafood, delicate pastries and sun-ripened local produce, it’s small wonder Portugal’s culinary offering is so highly sought-after.

From the Atlantic seaboard to the rustic banks of the Douro, Portugal owes its gastronomic highlights to its diverse and fertile landscapes. The country’s defining foodie staples — port wine, sardines and light custard tarts — are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to authentic local fare, and you can discover more of the Iberian nation’s favourite eats during a luxury river cruise from Scenic.

Travelling on board the elegant Scenic Azure on the blissful waters of the Douro, you’ll have a choice of six dining options, each showcasing a range of authentic Portuguese fare. Our chefs take inspiration from regional cuisine on every one of our luxury river journeys, so you can expect only the finest culinary offering as you cruise the Douro.

To further tempt those taste buds, here we explore some of the standout food and wine highlights which you can enjoy during your Douro river cruise.

Crystal Dining

Welcome to Crystal Dining, the main restaurant and dining hub during your time on board Scenic Azure, staffed by some of Europe’s friendliest chefs and waiters. While Crystal Dining’s buffet-style breakfast is certain to set you up for the day’s activities, we’d recommend saving yourself for lunch and dinner, when you can enjoy some of the finest delicacies from the region.

Take your pick from a range of delicious local eats, including bacalao pil pil (cod fish confit in olive and vegetables), rojões (braised pork stew with pickles and potato), bifanas (bread with sliced meat), caldo verde (green soup with cabbage and chorizo), as well as grilled octopus, salami, cheese, suckling pig and a range of desserts from across the country.

bacalhao pil pil

Panorama Lounge & River Café

The perfect place to catch up with new friends or relax after an exciting day ashore; the Panorama Lounge boasts comfortable chairs, tea and coffee making facilities, and a fully stocked bar complete with some of Portugal’s most celebrated liqueurs, wines and ports. If you’re in need of a pick-me-up, we’d recommend a port tonic, a refreshing blend of port wine, tonic water and lime, or one of our many delightful cocktails.

As well as a vast collection of beverages, the Panorama Lounge also serves up a delicious array of cakes, tarts, sandwiches and light bites, which are available 24 hours a day. You can also enjoy an alfresco breakfast or lunch in River Café, which is open from 6.30am every day.

Portobellos

While Portobellos restaurants on other Scenic ships serve up Italian-style fare, Azure’s version specialises in regional cuisines that are distinctly Portuguese. Indeed, the restaurant’s name is a pun on Porto, Portugal’s illustrious second city, from which much of Azure’s on board produce is sourced. All passengers are granted the opportunity to enjoy a meal in this intimate venue, which sees chefs preparing your meals in front of you, allowing you to savour the complete experience.

portobello restaurant scenic

Though Azure’s chefs are inspired by regional flavours; don’t expect traditional fare from your Portobellos experience. Rockmelon cocktail, zucchini soup, salmon fillet, beef sirloin and Atlantic Sea scallops with red beet air are just some of the carefully crafted dishes you can expect from this wonderful restaurant.

Table D’Or

Scenic’s signature dining experience, Table La Rive, becomes Table D’Or on board Scenic Azure, a name which derives from the Portuguese word for ‘gold’ — and what a first-class experience it is. Exclusively available for a maximum of 12 diners, Table D’Or presents a 6-course degustation banquet, with each course perfectly paired with sommelier-selected Portuguese wine, served by the ship’s most esteemed butlers.

The experience starts with a glass of Murganheira Vintage sparkling wine, followed by a terrine of foie gras, fig chutney, LBV Burmester port caviar and onion pie. Next is an asparagus cream soup followed by lobster and mushroom risotto. The main event is slow-roasted beef tenderloin, complete with pumpkin jam and walnuts, which is followed by a trio of Valrhona chocolate mousses and a vanilla crème brûlée to finish.

Developed exclusively for Scenic Azure by executive chef Claudio Sousa, Table D’Or is available once per river cruise to guests staying on the Diamond Deck, or those in a Junior Balcony Suite on the Sapphire Deck.

Special Culinary Events

Sampling regional Portuguese cuisine doesn’t end with our exclusive restaurants. Over the course of your cruise, you’ll be privy to a range of special culinary events, including a lunchtime barbecue on the Sun Deck (weather permitting) and an off-ship dinner at a cellar restaurant, with live music. On the last day of your Douro river cruise, you’ll also have the opportunity to join a walking tour of a local fishing village, where you can sample delicious salted sardines which are cooked directly outside on the street, as is the local custom.

If our selection of foodie highlights has piqued your interest in a Portuguese river cruise, click here to browse our complete collection of 2017 itineraries. 

About the author

 by Dominic Keely
by Dominic Keely

Dominic is Scenic's Marketing Exec. His favourite river is the Seine, because of the rich history of the region. Dom's a huge football and Manchester United fan, and plays on a team himself.

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