The Marvão chestnut festival

Was everything I dreamed of. Roving musicians (including 3 brass bands), folkloric dance, the blessing of the chestnuts  (which we missed, though I did spot the holy water), giant caudrons of roasting chestnuts, chestnut liqueur (which is made from chestnuts, but also jeropiga, which traditionally accompanies chestnuts), countless chestnut desserts, chestnut art... I'll just stop there. 
We couldn't stick around for the Noite de Castanhas, when most of the restaurants pull out all the stops, but our hotel did do a lunch special, so I managed to get my chestnut meal.

There is one way

In and out of Marvão. This is it.

Marvão is stunning...

But we aren't here for the views.


And because Nuno is magic, he found me more secretos for lunch the next day.

I was so excited I forgot to take a picture.


The secrets of the black pig

That is a literal translation of the specific black pork product I have been searching for.

Let me be clear: you should eat all of the black pig. It is all insanely delicious. But In my travels I heard tell of a special cut of meat said to be particularly succulent and so it was the secretos de porco preto I was after.

I thought it would be easy to find in the Alentejo (the bread basket of Portugal), but I was very much mistaken. In the end, Nuno saved the day. After asking the bartender whether secretos were on the hotel restaurant menu (the answer was let me see if we can get them for you) (he called the kitchen but they couldn't) he called every restaurant on my list to ask.

Not a single restaurant had them on offer  (I need to work on my restaurant selection).

So we headed out into the cold Evora night, and wouldn't you know, the second restaurant we passed was a black pig specialist. Nuno confirmed that they has it on the menu and settled us in. 

I was deeply suspicious. It was an outdoor restaurant  (heated patio but still) and the secretos supposedly came with guacamole on the side. (?!?!?!)

But instead of guacamole, it was Russian salad. And then, because it was cold and they are changing to their winter menu, thry brought us a side of mushroom risotto. Just for kicks.

And the secrets? Damn. Damn, damn, damn. Everything I dreamed of.


My quest

For the black pig has been an onerous one. Sort of.


And acqueduct houses.

Capela dos Ossos

Here in the bone chapel, the inscription above the door says, "We here bones are waiting for yours to join us."

(Or words to that effect.)

We have downgraded

To the merely charming and beautiful cell 117.

Don't worry. We're fine.


Is included at the Pousada Convento de Évora. It may include presunto (Portuguese prosciutto).  It may include paio porco preto (my latest obsession and what we ate in Vila Nova de Milfontes). It may include sparkling wine.

I won't bore you with the rest.

We might have

Accidentally upgraded to the King João V suite at the convent we are staying at.


Is a Portuguese wine not available at the LCBO (though you can buy a bottle to accompany a fine meal at Chiado).

What I didn't know is that they have a specific appellation for their top drawer wine - an appellation that is so elite it doesn't get used every year.

That wine is the Pêra-Manca. And yes, that is what we drank. It was incredibly smooth and I got dark cherry notes while Nuno detected vanilla.

It will only get better with age.

Roof drying squash in Mértola

The caves and grottoes

Around Armação are spectacular.  Don't skip the boat tour.


Tiny crab!

Turn around and go back to the ocean!