Thursday, February 23, 2012

Report from ... Day 5 in Portugal: Essencia Day - February 16, 2012

It's my last day in Portugal, and as much as I would like to stay for a couple of days of Essencia tasting a previous engagement is calling me back to Ontario.  Today I'll show you pictures from the floor of the Essencia tasting, the room where the international journalists will be judging to determine the best in Portuguese wines, what happens to a little town square when football (read: soccer) comes to town in the form of Manchester City, and shots taken inside the Yeatman Hotel (a beautiful project started by the Fladgate group).  But before I do that I promised to show you pictures of the world's smallest bath-mat, so let's start there:
Here's my size 13 atop the "bathmat" - I have a picture of my actual foot on the mat but not sure y'all wanted to see my hairy leg.
Taking a step back you can see yet another open concept shower stall - careful not to get too much water on the floor.
Inside the Palacio da Bolsa ... a look at the empty floor of the Essencia do Vinho where the tasting is to begin a few hours later ...
... but first will be the international judging, upstairs.
A look down from above at the Essencia floor.  In a few short hours this room will be teaming with people.
Inside the International Judges Room - the competition is called Top 10, I have yet to hear the results but they are published in Portugal's biggest wine magazine
Another look inside the judging room
My seat at the table.
We take to the streets for my last walk around Oporto, leading me to Gratuitous Animal Shot #8 ...
and Gratuitous Animal Shot #9 ... these animals were patrol the streets amongst ...
all these crazed Manchester City fans - these folks arrived before noon and set up shop on the very piece of real estate I spent my first day overlooking Vila de Nova Gaia eating a pork sandwich ... they would continue to drink until before game time at 8pm.
From the tour of the waterfront we make our way to lunch at DOP where froo-froo food awaits
Like scallops and mushrooms on a slate stone board
Saffron risotto and white fish
Pork skin and potato medallions - we missed out on dessert to take a private tour of the Yeatman hotel across the river.
Starting in the gift shop ... while we wait for our guide
From the balcony of the Yeatman overlooking Nova da Gaia port houses and in the distance Oporto, from this far away we can still hear the singing and chanting of the Manchester revelers.
The piece de resistance - entering the Wine Cellar in the basement of the Yeatman
Hallways leading to the cellar - the show part is behind those black doors
Looking behind the black doors at the Vintage Ports
These are the doors to wine cellar nirvana ...
Entering the wine cellar - wall of wooden case ends
Inside the cellar:  the Portuguese section
More of the cellar: the international section
Cork display outside the wine cellar
... including the world's largest cork.
The pool room
now imagine swimming with this view - because this is what you'd be looking out at
Time to enter the spa area ... it's luxurious in there including barrel tubs, and massage chairs that overlook Oporto
Unfortunately MCFC was staying at the hotel so we were not allow to see the rooms - but I did get this shot outside  the hotel of a 3000 year old olive tree.  3000 years old ... look at the size of that trunk.
My final dinner in Portugal at Mesa, on the 4th floor of a retirement home, swear to goodness
Inside the dining room at Mesa ... zoom in and see one of the residence in the back left corner.
The best dish of the evening - short rib on risotto - not the most Portuguese of dishes but it was delicious.
And thus ends this trip to Portugal ... the Esssencia tasting and the tasting tours of wineries ... 5 days is just too short a time to take it all in but it sure was fun and very educational.

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