VILA VITA Parc's chef has been nominated for Chef Cook of the Year. 

Chef Pedro Pinto, currently leading the kitchen at VILA VITA Parc's Atlântico restaurant, is one of the nominated chefs at the Portuguese competition Chef Cook of the Year.

Photo credits: EG | Cátia Barbosa

The renowned competition, celebrating this year its 29th edition, distinguishes every year the best cooks in the world of the Portuguese gastronomy. For each region, 6 chosen candidates compete among themselves. The top contestants of each regional round then proceed to the final where the winner is announced. On the 4th May, Chef Pedro Pinto won the South/Islands regional round which granted him a place amongst the finalists.

Photo credits: EG | Cátia Barbosa

Pedro Pinto is a perfect example of someone that has achieved success by chasing his dreams and changing career at 28 years old. At 35, the chef, born in Ovar, in the North of Portugal, has already worked in several international and national renowned kitchens, such as the AbAC Barcelona (3 Michelin stars), Vila Joya (2 Michelin stars), Yeatman (2 Michelin stars), Areias do Seixo and Bela Vista (both 1 Michelin stars), and is now currently leading the kitchen of the Atlântico Restaurant at VILA VITA Parc.

His cooking is inspired by nature in it purest form, and based on an organic concept with deep creativity and flavour, always preserving the product's integrity. 

The Herdade dos Grous celebrates one of the world's finest sweets.

Intrinsic to the traditional Portuguese gastronomy, the origin of the Convent Sweets, which are based in egg yolks and sugar, dates back to the 15th century, when sugar became more common in Portugal, following the beginning of the sugar cane plantations in the recent Portuguese colonies.

Its name derives from the fact that the sweets were originally created by nuns, looking to occupy their time in the convents. Initially made only for self consumption, over the centuries and with the loss of ostentation and budget of the Catholic Church, nuns and monks were forced to start selling these sweets in the nearby villages, looking to enlarge their income. The recipes gradually started to be executed by women who lived in those villages and, little by little, the Convent Sweets started to be a part of the tables of a large part of the population.

In the Alentejo region, a big part of the traditional sweets are Convent Sweets. It’s possible to go on a gastronomic tour throughout the region and never taste the same sweet twice. The main ingredients are extremely simple but offer delicious results: sugar, eggs, bread, milk, cheese, curd cheese, cinnamon, almond and pumpkin.

In May, the Herdade dos Grous celebrates the traditional Convent Sweets from the Alentejo with the “Convent Sweets Gastronomic Weeks”, with a special highlight for the Convent Sweets Board made by delicacies such as the Plum Sericá from Elvas, the Toucinho do Céu from Évora, the Convent Cheese from Portalegre and Beja’s Convent Puddings.

An amazing opportunity to indulge your sweet tooth with a gastronomic tour that will leave your taste buds longing for more!

Discovering the local delicacies of the Monchique hills

Sitting on the terrace of Dr. Jean Ferran’s home, at an altitude of 850 metres, the highest peak of the Monchique mountain range is just a short stroll up the hill from his garden. The 68 year-old Frenchman was a GP and homeopathic doctor in France before he moved here in 1982 and settled on the mountain with his late wife Anna. Together they built up a property rental and management business in the area, in which he is still actively involved, but which is today managed by his daughter Anne-Marie.

Jean Ferran however, is best known around the Algarve as the Bailli Provincial of the Algarve chapitre of Chaîne des Rottiseurs, the global association for gourmets. So, who better to advise us on the gastronomic delights of the mountain range that Jean calls home?

V Life magazine joined him for lunch at Tasca O Petrol, a humble yet famed eatery in the foothills of the mountain close to the village of Marmelete, a restaurant that is very popular with chefs, amongst them VILA VITA Parc’s own Hans Neuner from Ocean restaurant who is a regular. This is the home of real country cooking with a menu featuring predominantly pork dishes. When we joined Jean to discuss over lunch the culinary delights of these hills, we started with a mixed plate of appetisers featuring the ear, liver, black pudding and chouriço sausage, amongst other delicacies, of local pigs. Next came cozido de couve (cabbage stewed with different cuts of pork meat and innards), a portion of the fabulous assadura (grilled slices of Iberian black pig) and roast pernil (shoulder of pork), with crispy crackling and roasted new potatoes. The menu does feature lamb, chicken and even a few fish dishes but this restaurant is all about celebrating the pig, in true nose to tail fashion. The restaurant is run by the Nunes family; brother Pedro and Oswaldo and sister Nélia who is the chef.

Jean told us how the Monchique mountain range has long been famous for its pork products, celebrated every year at the Feira dos Enchidos, a pork and sausage festival held in March.

Monchique’s ham is one its most celebrated products, cured in salt with a mildly salty flavour whilst traditional sausages such as chouriço and morçela are equally important to the gastronomy of these hills.

We visited the pig farm and sausage factory of Sítio da Serra de Monchique, set high in the hills above the town. The facility is not open to the public but the owners are rightly proud of the high quality standards and traditional techniques employed here. A certified producer of the Iberian black pig, they have an impressive smoke room where thousands of sausages hang curing with a log fire burning on the floor. The legs of the pig are cured in refrigerated chambers for salting and further dry curing. Outside, the pigs are reared in spacious pens, happily immersing themselves in pools of mud, just as pigs love to.

Back down in the town, the company has its own butcher shop where the cured meats and sausages are available for sale, along with fresh cuts of the Iberian black pig.

Monchique is also famous for its chicken piri-piri restaurants but many of these are tourist traps. The chicken itself is no different to that found at restaurants on the coast, but there is something special about the crunchy salads and delicious potato chips made from local mountain produce, coupled with the views, that make a chicken lunch on the mountain a favourite weekend excursion for many coast dwellers.

Less known, and very difficult to buy locally, are the top-quality fungi that grow in Monchique’s oak forests, specifically chanterelles and Pied de Mouton (hedgehog fungus) mushrooms. In a tiny backstreet in Monchique town, the local mushroom king José Páscoa receives the mushrooms picked by locals on the hills and from here they find their way to speciality shops and gourmet restaurants around Europe.

However, if there is one product that can truly be considered part of Monchique’s cultural identity, it has to be medronho, the result of the age-old art of making aguardente (firewater) from the berries of the red arbutus bush (also known as wild strawberries). During the months of October and November the berries are picked and then fermented naturally before starting the distillation process the following spring, using traditional copper stills called alambiques.

Jean, who is a member of the Monchique Medronho brotherhood (Confraria do Medronho Os Monchiqueiros), arranged for us to visit Monte da Lameira, the distillery of João Paulo Nunes, set in a valley on the northern face of the hill near Alferce. Here, the distilled spirit is aged in chestnut barrels resulting in a slightly tinted and particularly smooth medronho. The alcohol content is close to 50% and he also produces a less potent liqueur version of the drink, known as meloso, which is sweetened with local honey.

Production techniques have changed little from generation to generation but since João took over the distillery from his father, production has become regulated and governed by laws to ensure that health and safety standards are adhered to.

Well worth visiting is Loja do Mel e Medronho (the honey and medronho shop) on the main square in Monchique town. Opened in 2011 as a joint venture between the associations of Monchique honey producers and medronho producers, the shop sells a range of medronhos from the various licensed distillers in the area, the photos of whom are displayed in the shop alongside the respective bottles. Local honeys on sale include an unusual variety made from the bees that pollinate the red arbutus bush, hence known as medronho honey. There are also compotes of various local fruits, including the medronho berry of course. This humble shop, with a traditional alambique outside and its brightly coloured tile façade, offers an excellent introduction to these traditional products.

After our tour of these gastronomic highlights of Monchique, we finished off the day with coffee on Jean’s terrace. From up here, the Algarve below us seems almost surreal, like a colourful tapestry spread before us. The folk of these hills have a pride in their lofty home, and a love of their local produce that makes every trip up here a very real pleasure.

(Text by Patrick Stuart. First published on VLife Magazine #6)

Food is never an afterthought at VILA VITA Parc.

The dining experience at VILA VITA Parc is a grand adventure, made even more memorable by the exquisite Portuguese hospitality. With a total of 6 bars and 10 restaurants, ranging from casual beachside dining and rustic, regional Portuguese plates to one-of-a-kind gastro-creations at the two Michelin-starred restaurant and clean Japanese cuisine, diversity is key to the resort’s culinary philosophy.

This year, in addition to the introduction of new gastronomic concepts such as flexitarianism and a larger vegetarian and healthy offer in its several restaurants and bars, VILA VITA Parc is launching a series of special 4-Hands dinners called Culin’Art Dinners.

The Culin’Art Dinners are special dinners that will be taking place throughout the year in selected restaurants at VILA VITA Parc. Several national and international renowned chefs have been invited to join the resident chefs for an unforgettable evening for any food lover and aficionado.

The first dinners will take place on 5 and 6 May at the contemporary Japanese Mizu-Teppanyaki Restaurant, with guest chef Daniel Rente, from Japanese restaurant SushiCafé Avenida in Lisbon, which will be joining resident chef Isa Pires for 2 evenings filled with the best of Japanese gastronomy. The menu for these evenings will be available at €60, per person, excluding drinks.

On 23 June, VILA VITA Parc welcomes Chef Nuno Barros, from 1300 Taberna restaurant, located at LX Factory in Lisbon, at its Adega Restaurant where the best flavours of the Portuguese cuisine will be the stars.

CONFIRMED PROGRAMME

5 & 6 May – Mizu-Teppanyaki Restaurant

Guest Chef: Daniel Rente (Sushi Avenida Café)

23 June – Adega Restaurant

Guest Chef: Nuno Barros (1300 Taberna)

 

For reservations and more information please contact VILA VITA Parc at +351 282 310 100 or fb@vilavitaparc.com.

 

The Herdade dos Grous welcomes you in April with an amazing gastronomic offer.

Make the most of your Spring weekends and travel to Herdade dos Grous, in Alentejo, to experience the flavours of the region’s traditional cuisine.

Indulge yourself with the special lamb dishes – the highlighted product in April – and/or chose a unique experience at the Herdade’s wine cellar, where you’re be able to enjoy a 3-course menu including traditional tapas and a tasting of regional pastries in the end, in an intimate atmosphere.

Whatever you chose, you’ll be sure to experience the best the Alentejo has to offer: excelent and rich gastronomy, landscapes with a one of a kind beauty and absolute moments of tranquility in perfect harmony with nature.

Please see menus here:

Chef Nights in the Wine Cellar: see menu

Lamb Gastronomic Weeks: see menu

For more information and reservations, please contact the Herdade at +351 284 960 000 or info@herdade-dos-grous.com.

2018 will be filled with several cultural, sports and musical events in the Algarve. Discover some of the top events taking place in the region this year and start planning your next visit.  


MARCH TO NOVEMBER | FIESA – Algarve’s International Sand Sculptures Festival  

Pêra – 01st March to 10th November

From March to November, the town of Pêra hosts the renown International Sand Sculptures Festival. The event, which is over 15 years now, is perfect for a family visit, where visitors have the opportunity to see several impressive sand sculptures. This year the theme will be “Minions” and “Star Wars”.

www.fiesa.org


APRIL | 6º Walking Festival Ameixial

Loulé – 27th to the 29th April

Photo credits: SUL Informação

Walking Festival Ameixial’s 6th edition will be taking place from the 27th to the 29th of April. This pioneer walking festival is based on the theme of the “Southwest’s Writing”, a primitive form of communication that can be found between the mountains of Mú and Caldeirão, in the Algarve. The festival is made of a series of trekks as well as workshops, yoga classes and much more.

www.fameixial.qrer.pt


APRIL/MAY | FIMA- Algarve’s International Music Festival

Several locations – 2nd March to the 24th May

FIMA, the Algarve’s International Music Festival, which is now celebrating its 33rd edition, is dedicated to the celebration and promotion of classical music through several concerts that will be taking place in several different locations throughout the Algarve, until the end of May.

www.fima.com.pt


MAY | Ecofest

Olhão – 4th to the 6th May 

The Ecofest is a festival that looks to combine Entertainment with the Algarve’s cultural and natural heritage. Taking place from the 4th to the 6th May in Olhão, the programme is made of walking tours, birdwatching, visits to the natural nurseries and salt plains, boat trips in the Ria Formosa and the release of rescued wild animals. There will also be taking place several performances, storytelling sessions, theatre plays in the Roman ruins and the water mil and several world music workshops and concerts.

website ecofest


MAY TO JULY | Culin’art Dinners

VILA VITA Parc – several dates

VILA VITA Parc is launching the first edition of the Culin’art Dinners: a series of 4-Hand dinners taking place at its 2 Michelin star Ocean restaurant, its Japanese restaurant Mizu-Teppanyaki and its traditional Portuguese Adega Restaurant. The dinners will be prepared by several national and international guest chefs (some with 3 Michelin stars) that will be joining the resident Chefs. The first dinners of the event are scheduled for the 5th and 6th May, at the Mizu-Teppanyaki restaurant with guest chef Daniel Rente, from the Avenida Sushi Café, and for the 23rd June at the Adega Restaurant with guest chef Nuno Barros from the 1300 Taberna Restaurant.  

Reservations: fb@vilavitaparc.com | +351 282 310 100


JUNE | Porches Craft Beer Festival

Porches - 1st June

On the 1st June, VILA VITA Parc will be celebrating its Porches Craft Beer, the resort’s own craft beer, through the Porches Craft Beer Festival. The Festival will be taking place in an area located next to the VILA VITA Biergarten, in Porches, and will be filled with high quality beer and delicious food in a relaxed and casual atmosphere, with the live performance of the Portuguese band Dead Combo. Free entrance.

www.vilavitabiergarten.com


JULY | Algarve Classic Cars 2018

Several locations and VILA VITA Parc – 6th to the 8th July

From the 6th to the 8th of July, the Algarve welcomes the timeless elegance of the classic cars participating in the Algarve Classic Cars event. The several stages of the competition wil be taking place throughout the Algarve with the winners being announced on the 8th July at VILA VITA Parc. On the same day, all the participating cars will be on display at the resort.

www.algarveclassiccars.com


SEPTEMBER | FIM Superbike World Championship (Autódromo Internacional do Algarve)

Portimão – 14th to the 16th September

The Superbike World Championship returns to the Algarve’s International Racing Circuit between the 14th and the 16th of September. Tickets may be acquired directly through the Racing Circuit’s website.

 

https://autodromodoalgarve.com/race-calendar/fim-superbike-world-championship

 


SEPTEMBER | Algarve Smooth Jazz Festival at VILA VITA Parc

VILA VITA Parc – 16th to the 21st October

The Algarve Smooth Jazz Festival returns to VILA VITA Parc between the 16th and the 21st of October, for its 3rd edition. Following two very successful editions, the festival is back with some of the biggest names in the world of smooth jazz, funk and soul such as Norman Brown, Paul Taylor e Lindsey Webster, amongst many others.

www.algarve.smoothjazzfestival.de


SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER | Oktoberfest at VILA VITA Biergarten

Porches – 27th September to the 6th October

From the 27th of September to the 6th of October, VILA VITA Biergarten will once again host the Oktoberfest. The celebration of the best beer and German food, served by Biergarten’s staff dressed in traditional costumes, will be accompanied every night, for 2 weeks, by live traditional Bavarian music, which will guarantee a lively and very enthusiastic atmosphere.

www.vilavitaparc.com/pt/proximos-eventos/oktoberfest-at-the-biergarten


OCTOBER | Algarve Classic Festival (Autódromo Internacional do Algarve)

Portimão – 19th to the 21st October

Classic cars aficcionados from all over the world will not be able to resist yet another edition of the Algarve Classic Festival, taking place between the 19th and the 21st of October at the Algarve’s International racing circuit.

www.algarveclassicfestival.com


OCTOBER | European Le Mans Series (Autódromo Internacional do Algarve)

Portimão – 26th to the 28th October

The Algarve’s International Racing Circuit welcomes once again one of the main motosport competitions in the World, between the 26th and the 28th October.

https://autodromodoalgarve.com/pt/calendario-corridas/european-le-mans-series

VILA VITA Parc Resort & Spa, located in Porches, in the Algarve, was distinguished with the award "Chave de Platina 2018". 

The "Chave de Platina" is the most prestigious award attributed by the Portuguese guide Boa Cama Boa Mesa, owned by the renown Impresa Group. This is the second time the resort receives this award.

Along with this recognition, the 2 Michelin star Ocean Restaurant, located at VILA VITA Parc, has also been distinguished for the sixth time with the "Garfo de Ouro" award.

The Boa Cama Boa Mesa Guide Awards, which this year celebrates its 15th anniversary, distinguish annually the best of the best in terms of accommodation and restaurants in Portugal,  through the awards of Chave and Garfo de Platina e Ouro along with the Chave and Garfo de Prata which have been just been added this year. The awards ceremony took place yesterday, the 27th March, at the Cineteatro Capitólio, in Lisbon, and was presided by the Portuguese Minister of Economy, Manuel Caldeira Cabral, and Francisco Pinto Balsemão, Chairman of the Impresa Group.

Óscar Correia, VILA VITA Parc's  F&B Manager, receiving the "Garfo de Ouro" award from Francisco Pinto Balsemão

VILA VITA Parc reaches record number of nominations at the World Travel Awards 2018.

The VILA VITA Parc Resort & Spa, has been nominated in 23 categories in the forthcoming 25th annual World Travel Awards, receiving the highest number of nominations for any property in Portugal.

This is not the first time the resort is nominated for these Awards, having already won the awards for World’s Leading Luxury Green Resort in 2015 and 2016, Europe’s Leading Hotel Villas in 2016, Portugal’s Leading Green Resort in 2015 and Europe’s Most Romantic Resort in 2014.

Katya Bauval, VILA VITA Parc's Sales & Marketing Director, receiving the award for Portugal's Leading Green Hotel in 2015

The World Travel Awards is recognised worldwide as the ultimate hallmark of quality, with winners setting the benchmark to which all others aspire. The voting period ends on the 20th May and the winners (voted for by both travel professionals and consumers) will be announced on 30 June 2018 at the World Travel Awards Europe Gala Ceremony, taking place in Athens. Guests will include travel industry leaders, luminaries, and international media.

VILA VITA Parc is excited to announce it has been nominated in 19 European categories and 4 Portugal categories, amongst which the nomination for Europe’s Leading Beach Resort e Europe’s Leading Luxury Resort.

Help us win by voting until the 20th May! 

https://www.worldtravelawards.com/vote

To see a full list of nominees -which span 10 regions including Europe, Central America, Middle East, Australasia and the Indian Ocean – please visit: www.worldtravelawards.com/nominees/2018

A taste of France at VILA VITA Parc in a unique menu only available on the 21st March.

On the 21st March, the Atlântico Restaurant, located at VILA VITA Parc Resort & Spa, in the Algarve, joins the list of restaurants from around 150 countries from all over the world that will be participating in the 4th edition of the Goût de France gastronomic event, following an invitation by the French Embassy in Portugal.

The event, founded in 2015 by Chef Alain Ducasse and the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, following the declaration of the French cuisine as UNESCO’s World Intangible Heritage, aims to celebrate French cuisine throughout the world, by offering French-inspired menus at the participating restaurants. In 2017, over 2,100 restaurants participated, serving around 250,000 special menus.

The Atlântico restaurant will be offering, exclusively for this day, a special menu prepared by Executive Chef Manfred Kickmaier which, for €78 per person, is made of a generous aperitif, a starter, a fish and a meat main course, a cheese course and a dessert. The menu will be paired by a careful selection of French wines and made of unique dishes such as the “Gâteau” of Goose Liver with Apple and Celery Salad and Kumquat Confit, the Lobster Bisque, the Beef Tenderloin à l'Escoffier with Wild Mushrooms, Potatoes Ana and Pepper Sauce, amongst others.

This is a unique opportunity to pay homage to the extraordinary French cuisine, in the sophisticated and elegant atmosphere of the Atlântico Restaurant, with a privileged view over the resorts’ luxurious gardens and the Atlantic ocean.

The full menu may be accessed through VILA VITA Parc’s website. For reservations please contact +351 282 310 000 or e-mail fb@vilavitaparc.com.

Internationally-acclaimed Christian Bau will join Executive Chef Hans Neuner for a prestigious Four Hands dining experience on March 20th.

VILA VITA Parc Resort & Spa will be the hottest culinary ticket on The Algarve next month when it hosts internationally acclaimed chef Christian Bau for an exclusive evening of culinary creativity on March 20th.  The German-born three Michelin-starred chef from the eponymous Victor’s Fine Dining by Christian Bau restaurant in Perl Germany will be cooking alongside Executive Chef Hans Neuner in his stylish two Michelin-starred Ocean Restaurant in a much-anticipated Four Hands Dinner Experience.

Renowned for being the youngest chef in Germany to receive three Michelin stars at the age of 34, Bau will be bringing his unique fusion of classical French cooking with strong Japanese elements, complementing Neuner’s standout locally-inspired seafood dishes. The two chefs will be creating a bespoke menu for the event which will seamlessly blend their culinary expertise, resulting in a one-off gastronomic sensory adventure.

Austrian-born Chef Hans Neuner presides over VILA VITA Parc’s signature restaurant Ocean, serving freshly caught seafood with inimitable flair, its excellence marked by a Michelin star awarded in November 2009 and the second awarded in November 2011. Neuner is the genius in the kitchen, where the focus is on the catch of the day from nearby Sagres alongside the finest seasonal and organic produce from the resort’s own farm. Signature dishes include a filet of red mullet served with “perceves” (goose barnacles) and fennel jelly; and tail of langoustine topped with caramelised turnip on a classic French combination of pressed veal face in black truffle sauce..

Tickets for The Four Hands Dinner experience at VILA VITA PARC’s Ocean Restaurant on March 20th   with Christian Bau and Hans Neuner start from €230 per person (excluding wines) and are available direct from VILA VITA PARC.

For reservations please contact the Ocean Restaurant by emailing info@restauranteocean.com or calling +351 282 310 100.