culinary tours

your love affair with portugal

portugal culinary retreat via



Hello, friends!

We've reached Day 5 in the Countdown to Portugal! For those of you just joining in today:

Registration for the Portugal culinary retreat opens tomorrow at 10am PST

To celebrate and to share with you all the things I love about Portugal, I’ve been posting to the blog this week about this hidden gem of a country and why you need to mark your calendars and join me for 7 days of sun, wine, seafood and stunning views this October!

Here are links to Day 1Day 2Day 3  and Day 4 in case you missed them.

Today, I'm sharing all the details of the retreat with you. Along with a few more reasons I think you should join me this October. Read on to find out what I've got in store for you, then check back tomorrow at 10am to register and start your love affair with Portugal!

portugal culinary retreat via

I take people to places that awaken our senses. 
Places that remind us how life can be lived.


portugal culinary retreat via

I was not expecting what I found in Portugal.

I went for a photography workshop. I was just passing through for a few days on my way to Paris. It’s sunny, I thought. And I think they have decent wine. Whatever. No big whoop.

But every day I spent in Portugal upended my assumptions and revealed a brand new (and unexpected) passion for this little country that hardly anyone knows about.

But you should.

portugal culinary retreat via
portugal culinary retreat via

I don't say this lightly:

  • You need to feel the Portuguese sun on your shoulders and breathe in the briny scent of the sea.
  • You need to hear the poetry of Portuguese in your ears.
  • You need a break from obsessing about work and bills and obligations and to-do lists.
  • You need to put your feet up and sip crisp vinho verde from a terrace perched over the river Tejo.
  • You need to walk along cobbled streets that curve between pastel-hued houses.
  • You need to visit tiny fishing villages and centuries-old farmhouses and castles by the sea.
  • You deserve to relax. Slow down. Take in the intense beauty of this wondrous country.
portugal culinary retreat via

I fell hard. Head-over-heels. In love with Portugal.

I fell for its soft-ripened cheeses. Smoky charcuterie. Sultry wines. And the seafood!

Portugal is a country that understands seafood. You absolutely need to taste it, fresh off the line.

portugal culinary retreat via

Now I’m on a mission: 

I want everyone (but especially you--my beauty-savoring, culinary friends) to begin your love affair with Portugal.

Consider me your official match-maker.

Any travel tour or guide book can lead you to the typical tourist spots. But that's where everyone goes. And then you return from your vacation needing a vacation since your nerves are fried from all the planning and the the crowds.

That's why a lot of people don't travel as much as they should. It takes a good amount of time and effort to plan the perfect trip. And it can feel like a crap shoot in terms of the actual experience lining up with your dreams.

This October, all you need to do is book your ticket, pack your bags and show up! I’ll take care of the rest. You’ll leave Portugal feeling refreshed, reinvigorated and ready to re-enter your life with a joyful new perspective.

portugal culinary retreat via
portugal culinary retreat via

My mission is to create beautiful experiences for people.

Beauty brightens weary perspectives.
Beauty opens hearts and minds.
Beauty shifts priorities from the habitual ho-hum to our true desires.

It slows us down.
Unravels our complications.
Awakens our sleepy creativity.
Opens our eyes to what truly matters and what can fall away...

Traveling to far off places awakens our senses like nothing else can. 

We return to our lives feeling like a veil has been lifted. Things seem more crisp. More purposeful.

More beautiful.

portugal culinary retreat via

People who travel with me enjoy the luxury of ease and authentic, non-touristy, experiences specifically for lovers of beauty and cuisine.

Here's what I have planned for you in Portugal:

  • Two amazing hands-on cooking classes with local chefs
  • Food tours featuring local artisans crafting excellent products with love
  • An excursion to an organic farm in the country where we’ll taste local wines and cheeses, and dine al fresco. 
  • A visit to a fishing village where we’ll learn about centuries-old curing techniques, take a tour of the (lively!) fish market, and visit a tiny, locals-only restaurant for a traditional seafood lunch. Yum!
  • Plenty of opportunities to taste Portugal’s amazing wines and ports and learn how they’re made
  • Several cheese and charcuterie tastings. You will not believe how good the cheese and charcuterie are in Portugal! You’re going to want to fill your suitcases with this stuff.
  • Lots of tasting pastéis de nata and other delicious pastries  
  • Local guides who will lead us to the city’s hidden culinary gems. 
  • Neighborhood walking tours highlighting Portugal’s amazingly beautiful architecture and grand history
  • Visits to some of Lisbon and Porto’s most fantastic shops and markets
  • Delicious breakfasts, Portuguese-style
  • Lunch or dinner every day at local restaurants, traditional and modern 
  • Eight nights of accommodation at boutique hotels in Lisbon and Porto. (Hand-picked by moi, after much deliberation. They’re beautiful.) 
  • A bedroom all to yourself. (So you can chill out when you’re tired of being around other people and get a great night’s sleep.) 
portugal culinary retreat via
  • Transportation within Lisbon and Porto and for all excursions. Taxis! Subways! Trains! Boats! So much adventure!
  • Gratuities for local guides, instructors, drivers, servers and hotel staff. Because we’re nice like that. And because they work hard taking care of the details that make our stay extraordinary.
  • Free time to make your own discoveries. Sometimes the discoveries you stumble on to are the most memorable.
  • Personalized recommendations of Lisbon and Porto sights and shops for your free time--in case you need a little help figuring out what to do.
  • The joy of traveling with a small group of fellow food lovers!
portugal culinary retreat via
"I enjoyed everything! Our group was fun and Olaiya responded easily to our requests for seeing or doing this or that. The food was amazing, and I loved how we walked everywhere, which kept us hungry enough to eat all of the delicious food. The restaurants were carefully chosen and we chatted with each Chef towards the end of our meal. It was delightful!
Enjoying the sites and history fit easily between our planned events. Olaiya was amenable to moving things around based on our interests which made for a very personalized experience.
The trip was so well thought out, organized, and relaxed. I cannot wait for the next Portugal trip and traveling with the wonderful Olaiya!" -- Sonya
portugal culinary retreat via

The Details...

October 3-9, 2016.
The perfect time to visit Portugal, in my opinion.

7 days of eating, drinking, cooking and wandering our way through Lisbon and Porto!

Size of group:
6 (plus me)!

$4497 for seven carefree days of beauty and inspiration. And the food. Did I mention the food?

A 50% deposit is required to reserve your spot. The balance is due two months before we depart.

What's not included:

• Your airline tickets, taxes & baggage fees

• Travel insurance. Which is pretty nifty and I highly advise.

• Room service. 

• Gratuities for restaurant wait staff when you’re not with the group

• Meals when you’re not with the group

• Any activities or items not listed above

Cancellation policy:
Please be sure you can attend before booking. All payments are non-refundable.

portugal culinary retreat via

“The gladdest moment in human life, me thinks, is a departure into unknown lands.”  

– Sir Richard Burton

There are only 3 spots left. One of them is yours.



portugal culinary retreat via

all the deliciousness that is portugal

portugal culinary retreat via

Hello, friends!

I’m back with Day 4 in the Countdown to Portugal! For those of you just joining today:

Registration for my Portugal culinary retreat opens on Monday, June 27 at 10am PST

To celebrate (and to get you better acquainted with this wonderful country!) I’m posting to the blog all week about this hidden gem and why you need to mark your calendars and join me for 7 days of sun, wine, seafood and stunning views this October!

Here are links to Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3 in case you missed them.

portugal culinary retreat via

Today, I want to introduce you to the amazing food and wine Portugal has to offer. 

The first time I landed in Portugal, I had zero expectations for the country’s cuisine. I was there for a photography workshop. I’d never heard anyone talk about Portuguese food before. How good can it be?, I thought. Hot damn was I wrong about that!

portugal culinary retreat via
portugal culinary retreat via

On that first trip, I fell head-over-heels in love with Portugal. I fell for its soft-ripened cheeses, which rival the best cheeses I’ve had in France. I fell for its smoky charcuterie--locally made Portuguese chorizo and linguiça are like nothing you’ve ever tasted before. I fell for its sultry wines. There’s a whole world of Portuguese wine beyond the lackluster vinho verdes that we get here in the US.

And the seafood! Portugal is a country that understands seafood. I live in a coastal city with a solid reputation for seafood, and yet the cod and octopus and clams and sardines I had in Portugal are the freshest and most delicious I’ve ever tasted. 

portugal culinary retreat via
portugal culinary retreat via
portugal culinary retreat via

Part of the beauty of Portugal is that many foods are still hyper-local and artisan-made. Few of these are exported outside the country. Which is why so many of us have never heard of them! It’s also why Portugal remains a food paradise, full of delightful, unexpected flavors.

To take you on a little tour of some of those flavors, I'm sharing a collection of articles and recipes from people who love Portuguese food as much as I do.

I’ll be back tomorrow with the full details of the Portugal culinary tour. See you then!



portugal culinary retreat via

Image Todd Coleman for  Saveur

Image Todd Coleman for Saveur

Image via  CataVino

Image via CataVino

Image by Hans Gissinger for  Bon Appetit

Image by Hans Gissinger for Bon Appetit

my favorite portuguese bloggers and makers

Image by Image by  Sanda Vuckovic Pagaimo

Image by Image by Sanda Vuckovic Pagaimo


Today is day 3 in the Countdown to Portugal 2016! For those of you just joining today:

Registration for my Portugal culinary retreat opens on Monday, June 27 at 10am PST

To celebrate, and to share my love of Portugal with the world, I’m posting to the blog all week about this hidden gem and why you need to mark your calendars and join me for 7 days of sun, wine, seafood and stunning views this October!

Here’s a link to Day 1 and Day 2, in case you missed those posts.

Today, I want you to meet some of my favorite Portuguese bloggers and makers:

I have to start with my friend Sanda, to whom I owe a huge debt of gratitude. Sanda is the creative force behind Little Upside Down Cake. She’s also a big part of the reason I fell in love with photography and with Portugal. After attending a food photography and styling workshop she organized a few years ago with Beth from Local Milk, I decided that a) photography was definitely for me and b) I had to find a way to come back to Portugal on a regular basis and share this amazing country with all of you! My Portugal culinary retreats are the direct result of meeting this talented lady.

Sanda’s generous spirit extends beyond sharing her culinary and photography skills; she’s also the person who introduced me to many of the places I love in Lisbon and all the other people on this page! She continues to be a huge inspiration and you should most definitely check out her work if you don’t know it already.


Next is my friend, Filipe. I met Filipe when he and his lovely wife Ana cooked a Portuguese feast for Sanda’s workshop. From the chorizo and preserved lemon bites to the herb-scented steamed clams to the creamy, savory octopus rice--I was hooked! Filipe is a fantastic cook. He also happens to be a talented writer and photographer. Dispatches from his blog and stunning instagram feed keep me inspired to create in the kitchen and dreaming of my next trip to Portugal!


I really wish my friend, Nathalie, lived closer to me. (Or maybe the other way around?) Her warm spirit, easy laugh and laid-back demeanor make her they type of friend I’m always thrilled to see. The fact that this French transplant graciously agrees to act as tour guide around her neighborhood in enchanting Cascais when I visit, makes her the very best kind of friend. Her blog, devoted to her explorations in Portugal and beyond, always reminds me to slow down and appreciate the beauty in front of me. Just the thing for a little Portugal daydreaming.


Image by  Chelsea Fuss

Image by Chelsea Fuss

I met Chelsea, the voice behind Frolic! at a dinner at Sanda’s house the last time I was in Portugal and immediately fell in love with her flower-filled blog. And the many Portugal snaps she posts to Instagram allow me pretend I’m walking the sunny streets of Lisbon every day. Check out her feed for a dose of daily life in Portugal’s capital city.


Image by Alice Bernardo

Image by Alice Bernardo

I Insta-stalked Margarida and her subtle, organic ceramics long before we ever met in person. I’d seen her pieces in some of my favorite bloggers’ images and started following her in hopes of meeting this talented artist and adding some of her elegant pieces to my collection. When I did finally track down her light-filled studio on the edge of Lisbon, it was a joy to meet Margarida in person and watch her at work. My collection of Margarida Fabrica Ceramics grows every time I visit Lisbon and I can’t wait to check out her new studio in the fall!


In addition to being an incredibly talented jewelry maker, Ines is also a lovely human being. She has one of those luminous smiles that light up a room. Her warm spirit, attention to fine detail and love of her craft shine through in her work. Much of Ines’ jewelry is inspired by forms found in nature and each piece is made by hand in her Lisbon studio. Watching Ines shape a lifeless piece of metal into a graceful earring or necklace feels like a small feat of magic. 


I hope you find as much inspiration in the photography, writing, cooking and handcraft of these creative spirits as I do! Those of you who join me in Portugal this October will get to meet some of these talented people, learn more about what they do and experience a slice of their Portugal first-hand.

See you tomorrow for a post on why Portuguese food was a revelation for me!



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