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7 Must try Foods in Portugal

Would you like to get a taste of the Portuguese cuisine at its best? Everywhere in the world has dishes that connect the people to the land and bring us closer to the culture of a region. Getting a taste for the local flavours with some delicious dishes is one of the top ways to get to know a country and its history. Here are our top 6 must-try foods in Portugal:

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The Portuguese version of the famous Spanish tapas, these mouthwatering bites are the perfect accompliment to a local beer or glass of Vinho Verde on the day by the harbour in Porto. Try the Bolinhos de Bacalhau (mini fish balls), presunto (a local traditional ham), Salada de polvo (octopus salad), Caracóis (tiny snails of the sea).

Caldo Verde

This traditional Portuguese soup translates to green broth and it eaten throughout the year. You will find it as a staple on most restaurants in portugal. When you taste it you will get a real taste of the Portuguese countryside. Often eaten as a starter course this is the perfect way to get a flavour of Portuguese cuisine. The main ingrediants include Kale, onion, garlic, potatoes and chorizo. Here’s a traditional Caldo Verde recipe from Portuguese Insider Tia Maria

Bacalhau

More of a key ingrediant than a dish, Bacalhau is held close in the hearts of all locals in Portugal. Whether grilling it in the summer months or baking it in the winter, this fish is certainly on our list of must-try foods in Portugal.must-try-portuguese-foods-orchards-near-me

Arroz de Tamboril

This dish also known as monkfish rice would be a savoured delicacy in other parts of the world but the readily available fish across the regions of Portugal make this a deliciously accessible meal. It is a traditional dish appreciated by locals. Key ingredients of Arroz de Tamboril includes monkfish, onion, cilantro, garlic, tomato, paprika and pepper.

Sopa de Cação

A heart warming soup filled with delicious vegetables that will fill you to the brim with energy. Yes please! 

Ameijoas a bulhao Pato

Offered in most restaurant along the Atlantic coast of Portugal this is the perfect dish of shellfish on a summers day. Clam are cooked in oil, garlic, cilantro and a dash (or three) of white wine. Being so close to the sea it would be a shame not to sample the delicious seafood. Simply put this is a meal of cockles (clams) in a tasty white wine sauce. The secret is in the picking and the Portuguese shellfish farmers have made an art out of this. An extra benefit is that they are rich in fatty acids containing Omega 3 which has many health benefits.pastel-de-natal-portuguese-food-portugal-orchards-near-me

Pastel De Natal

Last but not least the world famous Portuguese pastry of Pastel de Natal. This custard filled tart will have your mouth watering for days. Crispy on the outside, warm and creamy on the inside. What’s not to love? You will find these in bakeries and restaurants throughout Portugal. Each region has its own twist on the classic dish but all are delightful to eat.

Bom apetite from Portugal!

THE FLAVOURS OF PORTUGAL TOURS

These are just six of the many dishes to sample on your next Portuguese adventure. If you have any must-try foods in Portugal to add to the list please let us know.

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10 Reasons to fall in love with Fruit Picking

There is nothing we love better than being out in the fields getting back to nature. Why have we abandoned our roots? Let’s reconnect with the land and fall in love with fruit picking. Here are just a few reasons we think fruit picking will give you time for reflection and get you back to basics:

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For more details on any of our fruit filled adventures please contact one of our fruit loving team.

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Map of the Italian Wine Regions

When you think of Italy you must think of wine. Fields bursting with vines, heavy with ripened grapes and dying to be picked. Italy is home to some of our favourite vineyards and here is a simple map of the Italian wine regions to wet your tastebuds.

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Veneto

Romance, history and the floating city of Venice make this region of Italy a tourist hotspot. This is actually the largest wine producing region of Italy. Keeping with its romantic nature the area North of Venice is known for prosecco production as well as some refreshing white wines. It’s mediterranean micro-climates makes is perfect for producing sparkling dessert wines and you will find plenty of fizz on offer when you visit.

Tuscany

Discover the famous rolling hills of Tuscany when you visit any of the fantastic vineyards in this wine region. Some of the most renowned wines in the world come from this area. Wine is embedded into most aspects of life in Tuscany. The grapes hanging from the vines, the old houses on ancient vineyards and the tasty food pairings make it the perfect combination of food and nature. Chianti is certainly the most famous wine of the region and was established in 1932. Try the merlots and the cabernet sauvigan warm reds when you are in the area.

Piedmont

With the highest number of classified wines this area has some of Italy’s best rated wines. If you are a berry fan (as we are) then you will enjoy the red Dolcetto wine with its hint of blackberry flavour. You will stumbleupon wonderful producers around the area of Alba where you can pair the wines with the famous local truffles. If you have been lucky enough to taste an Asti wine than there is a high chance it came from Piedmont as they produce over 60 million litres of this sweet white wine each year.

Emilia

Dating back to the 7th century, the wine production in this area of Italy is prolific and leave you with long lasting memories. Taste the local frizzante, sparkling wines, for a true taste of summertime.

Lombardy

Northern Italy is packed full of wine producing areas but Lombardy holds a special place in our hearts. Located near the Adda River, the vineyards here enjoy a mild climate and produce tantalizing red wines and sparkling delights. It’s location between the Alps and the po basin makes it an extra special place to visit at harvest time.

Umbria

Medieval villages and iconic towns like Assisi make Umbria a must visit place when you are on tour in Italy. The benedictine monks were the first to plant vineyards here and the red wines are warm and bold. They have benefited from their world renowned neighbour, Tuscany and use their traditional Italian style to their advantage.

Abruzzo

The Montepulciano grape is famous in Abruzzo and throughout the world today. This region is widely known for its rose wines and mountainous landscape.

Marche

The Verdicchio grape is a sure encounter when you visit the Marche wine region of Italy. This is an acidic, dry white wine that goes perfectly with any fish dish on offer.

Puglia

When in Puglia you have reached the heel of Italy. Vineyards and olive groves create a patchwork blanket look in this region. Full bodied reds are a staple part of the diet in this area and you will enjoy getting to know the flagship primitivo grape that is famous in the towns of Lecce and Manduria.

Lazio

Last but least is the Lazio wine region. Home to the capital of Italy, Rome, the volcanic hills of Lazio make the ideal landscape for crisp, white wines.

Wherever you go in Italy have a sip or two of the scrumptious wines on offer. You will learn about the land, the nature, the climate and the culture through its many delicious varieties of grapes.

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Halloween Recipe: Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Halloween is just around the corner and we are excited to share our easy roasted pumpkin seeds recipe. Have you been busy creating spooky jack-o-lanterns with your pumpkins? We certainly have and you will find some pictures of our favourite creations below.

As we are nuts about fruit it is the perfect time of year to celebrate the pumpkin harvest and have some fun with friends. A mindful activity and fun for all the family, pumpkin carving is the perfect way to spend an evening but what can you do with all those leftover seeds? Eat them. Yes, roasting pumpkin clean-pumpkin-seedsseeds is the ideal way to get the most out of their flavour and use up some of your leftovers. Here is our solution for leftover pumpkin seeds:

Ingredients

2 cups fresh pumpkin seeds, or whatever you scoop from one pumpkin
3 tablespoons butter, melted, or an equal amount of the cooking oil of your choice
1 teaspoon salt and/or other seasonings

Instructions

Step 1. Preheat the Oven
Preheat oven to 250°. Line a large sheet pan with tinfoil and spread a thin layer of olive oil on top.

Step 2. Gather your seeds
There is no wrong way to carve your pumpkin and there is plenty of online inspiration out there. This year we are seeing some celebrities and politicians are popular pumpkin picks. Using a sharp, sturdy knife, cut around the top of the pumpkin and remove the lid. Using a large spoon, scrape the sides of the pumpkin to remove the seeds and pulp. Pick out the seeds and put them into a large bowl.

Step 3. Clean the seeds thoroughly
You may be tempted to throw the seeds straight into the oven but if you want to crunchy kind (which are simply the best) then you should clean them thoroughly.  Using your hands pull the seeds from the gloopy pumpkin slime. Rinse them in cold running water. The water makes is easier to pull off any excess pumpkin goo. This may take a few turns.

Step 4.  Combine the Seeds with the Seasonings
It’s time to season your seeds! Salt and chilli flakes works a treat but you can use any spices you wish.

In a bowl mix the salt and a tablespoon of chili flakes with two spoons of olive oil. Drizzle over the dry seeks and gentle toss them around to make sure all of the seeds are covered.

Step 5. Bake the Pumpkin Seeds, Stirring Occasionally
Now we are ready to bake. Spread all of the seeds in a single layer on your tinfoil and bake for approximately 1 hour. Turn them half way to toast both sides.

Step 6. Dig in! 
You can serve them up as a tasty pre-dinner snack, hand them out to eager trick or treaters, add them to your morning granola or save them for your afternoon snack at work. To store them keep them in an airtight container and this will help to keep them crunchy.roasted-pumpkin-seeds

Fun Pumpkin Facts Facts

  • The word pumpkin first appeared in the fairy tale Cinderella
  • The Irish were the first to start carvings jack-o-lanterns out of turnips and potatoes to ward off evil spirits. In the 1800’s Irish immigrants brought this tradition to America.
  • Pumpkins take between 90 to 120 days to grow and have approximately 500 seeds each.
  • There are more than 45 types of pumpkins and not all are orange.
  • Pumpkins come from the same fruit family as melons and cucumbers.

Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds

  • Contains a lot of magnesium which helps regulate blood pressure
  • Rich in Omega 3 fats and Zinc
  • Rich in antioxidants and nutrients such as fiber, protein and Vitamin K
  • A source of tryptophan, an amino acid that can help with sleep. If you are feeling restless have a cup of pumpkin seeds.

Have a spookalicious Halloween all!

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How to reduce fruit waste?

At Orchardsnearme.com we want to help you to be more food friendly, choose to give the environment a hug and really appreciate the land around you. This is what we are all about so do you want to be more fruit friendly and reduce waste? We have a few tips that can help you use the best of what is on and off the shelves at different seasons.

Today everyone is asking you to go green, be more sustainable and think of the environment but do the major shopping centres tell you where their fruit is coming from, how the farmers are treated and squeezed for margin?

We don’t really know how they undergo the selection process when choosing the fruit to display on the shelves. All we can see the best and brightest fruits make it home to our fruit bowls. So where is the rest? A report by the UK’s Global Food Security Group programme found that over two fifths of all fruit can be wasted because it is considered ugly. Now is a good time to say that we love the ugly duckling. In a plastic filled world where botox is trending and filtered selfies are the norm let us not forgot that our individual blemishes are what make us unique.

So if you are looking for the peaches with the dimples check out your local market stalls. They don’t seem to discriminate against misshapen fruit as much as the larger chains. Go into any organic shop to discover dimpled fruits. Be conscious and actively choose the loneliest fruit on the block.

Another interesting study has highlighted the quality of scarred fruits and the results are pretty postitive. If we always picks the aesthetically pleasing fruit it may not be the tastiest. According the a cambridge review study from 2014 found that organic fruit had lower pesticide content and up to a 40 percent higher antioxidant content. So we say to all of our fruit loving friends enjoy the fruit with all of its scars and dimples.

Here’s an idea for a fun night in, do a fun blind taste test for friends at home. Buy several pieces of fruit at different stores and slice them up for friends. I’ve tried this and there is no comparison between the water injected fruit found in many stories versus the organically less modified fruit found on local stores. The latter being simply delicious. We usually have a few bottles of cider to wash the fruit down. Happy Tasting y’all!

Here are our simple tips to help reduce fruit waste:

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If you have any sustainable fruit or food tips please contact our team and we will do our best to share them with the fruit picking community.

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Get our latest Brochure

We are very excited to launch our brand new Orchard Experiences brochure.

Our useful snapshot of all of the top orchard adventures on offer with OrchardsNearme.com. From fruit picking tours to food filled city tours to cycling nature trails that take you off the beaten track. You will find everything you need for your next orchard adventure in Europe.

Inside you will find:

  • Our fruity stories from experiences by the team
  • The top orchard tours
  • The types of tours on offer
  • Some useful fruit picking tips and advice
  • When is the best time to go
  • Travel inspiration for your next European experience

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SPANISH GRAPES: WINE REGIONS OF SPAIN

Let’s take a look at some of the fruit filled vineyards of Spain. Where are the wine regions of Spain and what delicious wines can we enjoy from the areas:

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CAVA

Pay a visit to the home of Spanish sparkling, and immerse yourself in Cava while taking in the mountain scenery and sun-drenched beaches. We’re talking about Penedés, an area of Catalonia in north east Spain — its capital Sant Sadurní d’Anoia is less than an hour by train from Barcelona.

RIOJA

You’ve probably drunk plenty of this region’s delicious wines, but perhaps not considered it for a holiday…Until now. With 60,000 hectares of vines spread over three provinces, Rioja might be vast — but if you know where to go it can make an unforgettable getaway.For easy winery hopping head to Haro Train Station Wine Quarter, where you’ll find the highest concentration of century-old wineries on the planet – in September they run the Haro Wine Festival… Or if you want to get involved with people throwing over 100,000 litres of red wine at one another, arrive June 29 for the Batalla del Vino, or ‘wine battle’. The mixture of these grapes often combines sweet flavours with sour and rich, producing some of the most unique wines in the world.

Rioja wines spend extra time ageing. Joven (young) wines are released without any oak ageing and have a pure fruit character. Crianzas spend one year ageing in barrel and one in bottle. Reservas spend one year in barrel and two in bottle. Gran Reservas age in barrel for no less than two years, and three more years’ ageing in bottles.

ANDALUSIA

Finally, Jerez, the ancient heartland of Andalucía and fountainhead of Sherry wines. Forget any preconceptions you may have about all Sherry being sickly sweet or for nonagenarians — it’s multiplicity is staggering and it’s prized in the hippest hottest tabancos.

You won’t have to work hard to get a taste, the city is packed with bodegas and every pavement has its bars, with tables made from blackened Sherry butts.You can also wander about the small, flat town centre on foot, confident in the knowledge you’re never far from a cool glass of fino.In the early morning or evening, climb to the top of the Moorish fortress Alcázar, the view of Jerez vineyards stretching to the horizon is well worth the effort.

VALENCIA

The Valencia wine region is one of the oldest in Spain. Grapes have grown in Valencia since the Neolithic Era. Most of the wine produced here is exported around the world, putting Valencia on the international wine map!

Though it is situated along Spain’s east coast, most of the vineyards are located deeper inland. The sandy, chalky, limestone-rich soil of Valencia produces a wide variety of wines, including world-famous Moscato grapes.The ageing process in Valencia is different than that of Rioja or Ribera del Duero. Crianza wines are only cask-aged for three months, while Reserva wines are aged for no less than six months.

CASTILLA Y LEON

This region of Spain producers some of the most renowned wines such as Ribera del Duero, Rueda and Bierzo. The traditional wine making in the area dates back to Romans. The red wines are held in high regard with the tempranillo of Castilla y Leon making it to restaurant tables throughout the world. In addition to it’s famous wines, this region is home to some of Spains most important historical sites, with over 300 castles and 400 musems.

RIAS BAIXES

Most famous for the crisp, white Albariño grapes, Galicia offers everything to the budding wine enthusiast. Located on the Atlantic coastline the Rías Baixas this region of Southwest Spain offers some of the best vineyard experiences. To sample some of the best known Rias Baixes wines head to the old town of Pontevedra or the lively city of Vigo for some tasters.

For a taste of the wine regions of Spain you can try some of our taste trails in the different regions or contact us to arrange a private grape picking experience.

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19 Inspirational Quotes from Nature for 2019

We all need a little inspiration sometimes and where better to find it than the leaves under our feet and the sky above. Allow yourself some time to reflect on all the beautiful joys that nature has to offer with these inspirational quotes from some of the greatest minds:

In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous. Aristotle

Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you. Monet

Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience. Ralph Waldo Emerson

The world is big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark. John Muir

In every walk in with nature one receives far more than he seeks. John Muir

Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads. Henry David Thoreau

I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in. John MuirNature touches everything we do

I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery – air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, “This is what it is to be happy”. Sylvia Plath

Normality is a paved road; it’s comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow. Vincent van Gogh

I like this place and could willingly waste my time in it. William Shakespeare

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished. Lao Tzu

Choose only one master – nature. Rembrandt

Nothing is art if it does not come from nature. Antoni Gaudi

Live, travel, adventure, bless, and don’t be sorry. Jack Kerouac

I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars. Walt Whitman

I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order. John Burroughs

There is nothing pleasanter than spading when the ground is soft and damp. John Steinbeck

Nature knows no indecencies; man invents them. Mark Twain

I think it annoys God if you walk by the color purple in a field and don’t notice. Alice Walker

Have you an inspirational quote to add to our list. We would love to hear from you and your wisdom from nature.

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TOP 8 ORCHARD EXPERIENCES

At OrchardsNearme.com we go to grow. Every experience allows us to immerse ourselves in the culture, history and food of the places we visit. From the rolling hills of Tuscany to the sun kissed vines of the Duoro Valley, there is so much to be explored. Every moment of your orchard adventure is unique and will leave you with long lasting memories. Here are some of the top orchard experiences we would suggest:

  1. Discover the grapes of the Douro Valley
  2. Experience the wine harvest of Rioja Region in Spain
  3. A Citrus Cycling Adventure in the Algarve, Portugal
  4. Walk through the heart of Tuscany at Harvest Time
  5. Cycling in the stunning Loire Valley – France
  6. Stargazing and traditional suppers in Central Portugal
  7. Walk a taste trail for the senses along the Italian Coastline
  8. Cycling romantic Italy at harvest time

Now that you have a few great ideas it is time to make a plan. Whatever orchard experience you choose we are here to help you go to grow. Getting ready? Get your free packing checklist here.

For more information on any of the suggested tours please contact one of our travel specialists.

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FRUIT RECIPE: HOMEMADE BLACKBERRY JAM

What food warms your heart in winter? For us, there is nothing that compares to warm toast, creamy butter and fresh homemade blackberry jam. Toast is pretty simple if you have a toaster or grill. Here is a short and easy recipe for homemade jam to melt your heart. Blackberries are one of our favourite things to forage for so we will focus on Blackberry jam for now.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 kg Blackberries
  • 1 litre of water
  • 1.8 kg Caster sugar
  • 1 spoonful of honey
  • 1 lemon

METHOD

Always start by picking the berries. If you are out of season don’t worry. Head to your local organic supermarket to pick up some fresh berries. If you are organised than maybe you have some stored in the freezer from last seasons harvest.

How many blackberries do you need?
You should make blackberry jam in small batches. This recipe is enough for 4 large jars of jam. For each jar you will need at least 5 mugs of berries. That’s a good days pickings.

Wash the fruit is cold water to remove any excess dirt, insects or stems.

If you are like me you will want to leave some berry chunks in your jam but if you prefer smooth jam than you will need to whisk the berries in a food processor. I simply use a fork to mash them around in a pan. Add a little lemon juice at this point.

Next place the pan over a warm hob and heat gently. Don’t be tempted to turn the heat up full blast, you don’t want to burn away all of those juicy flavours.

After 5 minutes of gentle boiling add the sugar to the pan. Gently stir the mixture. Wait until the mixture starts to bubble and boil. At this point turn off the heat and leave the jam settle before transferring it to a dish or jar. Place in the fridge for a couple of hours to help the jam set.

Last but not least, serve on warm homemade soda bread, scones or toast to show off your newly made homemade blackberry jam. Enjoy!

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