Portugal Weekend
Bailliage Provincial of Sud du Tage
Évora, November 9-11, 2018
São Martinho in the Alentejo

Once again São Martinho (otherwise known as Saint Martin of Tours, who is, as we all know, the Patron Saint of geese, hoteliers, wine makers, horse riders, knights and even the French, making him the perfect Patron Saint for the Chaîne) called us to the Alentejo for a very special week-end of tourism, gastronomy and Chaîne conviviality. And we were also celebrating the 6th year of our Gastronomy School in Évora, meeting and getting to know our students and their teachers.

The week-end started on the Friday with a visit to one of the leading producers of top-quality olive oil, Herdade de Vale de Arca of our confrère Maître Restaurateur Manuel Magalhães. We visited the olive groves and the mill. Afterwards we were entertained to a typical local lunch of bacalhau (cod) followed by a very interesting introduction to olive oil tasting directed by an international master in this field, Professor José Manuel Gouveia.

We stayed at the luxury Spa Hotel “Convento do Espinheiro” in Évora, a Chaîne member establishment for many years and our favourite home from home in the Alentejo.

After a quick aperitif at the hotel, it was off to dinner at “Fialho” in Évora, probably the most traditional restaurant in town, owned by the family of the same name whose patriarch, Amor Fialho, is a Maître Hôtelier and Commandeur in the Chaîne.

A very enjoyable menu included partridge, wild pigeon and wild boar in honour of St. Martin. We were honoured by the informal presence of Dom Francisco, Archbishop of Évora, who helped us start our Gastronomy school six years ago when he was still a simple parish priest.

Saturday found us in the Michelin-starred restaurant of L’And Vineyards in Montemor-O-Novo where we had a remarkable degustation lunch with matching wines. This took us late into the afternoon so after a quick change and freshen up we were out again to the big event: a cocktail party followed by dinner at the Cadaval Palace, where we were met by HRH the Princess Diana d’Orléans, Duchess of Anjou and Duchess of Cadaval.

Drinks and canapés were served by the students of our Gastronomy School. The reception was followed by the graduation ceremony for students and dinner at the palace with some of the teachers.

Lunch on the Sunday was held in the restaurant of the Convento do Espinheiro. Again it was dedicated to São Martinho and featured game, chestnuts and guinea fowl.

Before the lunch, we had a very interesting conference in the monk’s cisterna, now converted into a wine cellar, given by our confrère Maître Sommelier Miles Edlmann about the growth of organic wines in Portugal.

And so came to an end a fantastic week-end of conviviality, friendship and gastronomy, enjoyed by all in the true tradition of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs.

Vive la Chaîne!

Jean Ferran
Bailli Provincial