Ferry Flavors – Tasting the Local Cuisine From Port to Port

For an immersive experience, take a walking tour and indulge in traditional cuisine and Port wine. It’s a culinary stroll through Porto’s authentic Vila Nova de Gaia neighborhood with a visit to the world’s oldest port wine cellar.

Enjoy a dozen sweet oysters at Hog Island Oyster Company and sip a glass of iced white wine. Or grab a quick bite at Cholita Linda, a Ferry Building marketplace favorite for Latin specialties including pressed Cubano sandwiches and jerk chicken plates.

Serra da Estrela Cheese

There are a few things you must do when you visit Portugal. Eating bacalhau in one way or another is one of them. Having Serra da Estrela cheese is another. This artisanal ewe’s milk cheese is made in the Serra de Estrela mountains, which are located inland in central and mid-to-northern Portugal. It’s a creamy and dense cheese with an almost spreadable consistency. When eaten fresh, it has a mild taste with a hint of barnyard. The older it gets, the more its flavor becomes pronounced. It pairs well with both red and white wines from the Dao demarcated region, especially those made with Touriga Nacional grapes.

This cheese is cured with thistle flowers, which gives it its characteristic aroma and a lightly herbaceous finish. It can be eaten either as an appetizer or a dessert and is often served with a glass of Port wine, especially a Tawny Port. It also pairs with fig jam, which is one of the region’s signature products.

The aging process, called “affinage,” makes the cheese firmer and its flavor more intense. Queijaria Artisanal do Ilidio follows the traditional protocol, bathing and re-wrapping the cheeses in muslin for a minimum of 10 days before the final affinage. The producers of this particular cheese also use artichoke thistles as a vegetarian source of enzymes for the curds, rather than animal rennet.

Requeijao is a very light Portuguese cheese, similar to ricotta. It’s usually sold in plastic containers and has a soft texture that melts in your mouth. Its strong flavor goes particularly well with a glass of Port wine and pumpkin jam.

Other types of local cheese can be enjoyed alongside local spirits. The aguardente (fruit brandy) from the region’s aguardente de medronho berry is smooth and rich in flavors, while the ginja (cherry liqueur) has an intense sweetness that contrasts beautifully with the tanginess of the cheeses. If you’re looking for something more herbal, try aguardente de alicante, another fruit brandy made from the alicante berry. This is not to be confused with the alicante pepper liquor, which has a spicy and bitter kick. It can be quite dangerous to drink on an empty stomach!


Port is a fortified wine that comes in many styles from ruby red to tawny and white. It is made from grapes grown in the Douro Valley and aged in the Porto region of Portugal. A visit to one of the many Port houses and cellars dotted along the Douro River is a great way to learn more about this famous drink and see how it is made.

Most people think of Port as a dessert wine but it actually pairs well with many types of foods. Its sweetness is a natural complement to desserts, but it also works well with cheese, nuts, or even chocolate. Tawny Port pairs well with roasted or dried fruits, such as figs and dates, adding a pleasant sweetness and complex flavors to the dish.

It is traditionally served as a dessert wine in English-speaking countries but can also be enjoyed as an aperitif. A glass of white or tawny Port is perfect with any light fruit salad, including strawberries, raspberries, and mixed berries. It is especially refreshing with a fruit tart or ice cream.

The color of Port is a good indicator of its age. The more mature Ports, such as vintage ports, are usually dark in color, while younger ports tend to be lighter in color. This difference in appearance is due to the different aging methods used for these wines. Ports that are stored in barrels with a tight seal experience what is known as “reductive” aging and lose their color very slowly. In contrast, Ports that are exposed to oxygen while in the bottle for a longer period of time, such as tawny Port, experience what is called “oxidative” aging. This type of aging allows the wine to lose its color more quickly but also helps smooth out the tannins in the wine.

While it is not recommended to pair oysters with Port, it can be an enjoyable combination with caramelized scallops or fried sardines. The richness of the seafood and the sweet flavor of the Port can create a very enjoyable pairing.

A glass of Port is a delicious accompaniment to cheese, particularly a soft, creamy blue or goat cheese. This is because the richness of the Port can help balance out the fatty, creamy texture of the cheese, creating a delightfully balanced pairing. A glass of Port can also be a nice complement to spicy food. The sweetness of the Port can help offset the heat in a dish and can also enhance the flavors of the spices and herbs.