Tag Archives: Food Pairing

Second Annual “Jornadas do Boi” in Vinum Restaurant

On the 12th of November the restaurant and wine bar Vinum, located in the heart of W & J Graham’s historic 1890 Lodge, launched the second edition of the gastronomic event Jornadas do Boi.

The interior of Vinum at Graham's 1890 Lodge
The interior of Vinum at Graham’s 1890 Lodge

Aiming to celebrate the autumn flavours found in the traditional cooking of Trás-os-Montes, one of the inland provinces of Northern Portugal, the menu is composed of the strong, hearty flavours that make the food from this region famous.

Trás-os-Montes rib steak (costeletão)

The centrepiece of the menu is the boi velho, 7 to 8 year old field reared cattle The two animals, weighing 1278 and 1330kg, were selected because of their exceptional quality by Imanol Jaca, one of the worlds most respected butchers, having worked with chefs and restaurants worldwide. The aged meat, from extraordinary animals, is lightly salted and grilled. Served with red peppers, the simplicity of the dish is captivating, as is the taste.

Red peppers

Of course, the ingredients in the rest of the menu are also exquisite, from the fresh cannellini beans, to the stone milled flour that makes Vinum’s bread, each element of the meal is the best there is to offer.

The wines suggested to accompany the meal are the Altano 2013 white, Quinta do Vesuvio 2009 red, and to finish, the Quinta dos Malvedos 2001 Vintage Port. Of course, as Vinum is situated literally meters away from 3,500 ageing casks of Graham’s most precious wines, the exceptional Portuguese cheeses (and English Stilton) and chocolate truffles can be accompanied by a port of your choosing, served by the cup.

Available every day until the 5th of December, the complete menu, consists of:

Dried codfish (bacalhau) salad,

 Stewed Iberian pigs trotter and ear with cannellini beans,

Trás-os-Montes rib steak with seasonal red pepper,

An assortment of artisan cheeses,

Chocolate truffles.

Reservations can be made directly with Vinum on: +351 220930417, or online at www.vinumatgrahams.com.

Mike Colameco Visits Vinum Restaurant on His Food Tour of Portugal

Sitting in the Vintage Room at Graham’s Lodge earlier this week, Mike Colameco, American celebrity chef, tasted Graham’s 20 Years Old Tawny Port and groaned with delight. “My mind just started racing with ideas for food pairings,” he said afterwards. He listed a series of exquisite dishes that he thought would pair well with this port, including lentil-based dishes, succulent meats and other savoury dishes. This was a real revelation. The joy of the world of food and wine is that the possibilities are endless and always changing.

Mike Colameco, is host of ‘Mike Colameco’s Real Food’ and ‘Weekend Food Talk’, which air on TV and radio across America. He visited Vinum Restaurant this week as part of his tour of Portugal in order to cook with Head Chef Celme as part of a new series of programmes he is filming.

His trip is in partnership with Wines of Portugal (Vini Portugal), who have ensured that Mike is introduced to the top food and wine spots across the country. His next engagement was to catch a boat to take him up the Douro Valley but not before he had got in the kitchen with the award winning Vinum team.

Celme introduced Mike to some typical Portuguese dishes and house specialities. He expressed his admiration for the Vinum kitchen, murmuring on one occasion, “I wish I had a kitchen like this.” On the menu were ‘Alheira’ (Portuguese smoked sausage) with roasted peppers, Bacalhau (Cod) steaks in kale soup, and Vinum’s signature prime rib-eye steak grilled on the open fire.

Mike’s dynamism was infectious. He enthused about the supreme quality of the cod and the beef, massaging it and exclaiming, “just look at that marbling.” He spoke very highly of all the ingredients in the kitchen as he was introduced to the delights of Portuguese cuisine.

After his work in the kitchen he settled back with Rupert Symington on the terrace at Vinum with a glass of Graham’s Six Grapes and some dark chocolate truffles. This popular pairing was, he said, perfect – and we would happen to agree. It is also exciting to hear though that one of America’s top chefs sees the opportunity for an innovative and exotic future for Port and food pairing. Our mouths are watering with anticipation.

Vinum Restaurant & Wine Bar – One Year On

One year ago today, on the 21st March 2013, we officially inaugurated the newly renovated Graham’s Lodge and Vinum Restaurant & Wine Bar. Looking back, it has been a year of which we can be proud.

The Symington family’s partnership with Sagardi family has proved extremely successful. The Symington family has created an outstanding wine list, including their own Douro wines and ports as well as those of other winemakers with whom they have close relationships, from Portugal and around the world. While at the same time, Sagardi has brought together the best of traditional Portuguese cuisine with a cosmopolitan touch. The result is a menu, a wine list and a team that has now, already, made Vinum one of the top gastronomic destinations in the north of Portugal.

One of the year’s culinary highlights was the Boi de Trás os Montes menu prepared last autumn. Two oxen were specially selected from farmers in the Trás os Montes region (which literally means, Behind the Mountains): this is one of Portugal’s most exciting and relatively undiscovered culinary regions. This seasonal menu that was designed to accompany the meat celebrated the local ingredients of the region and the Portuguese wines that perfectly complement them.

Vinum also hosted the charity dinner at the end of last year for Bagos d’Ouro and the launch of the Symington family’s commemorative Graham’s 1982 Single Harvest Tawny Port. This raised a substantial sum for the Douro based charity.

There is no better place to be in Porto or in Vila Nova de Gaia when the sun is shining than the terrace outside Vinum with a glass of wine and tapas. Vinum’s mission is to set the standard for outstanding Portuguese cuisine, and the signs are so far very positive. Portugal’s food and wine are still relatively new on the international gastronomic scene. Thanks to projects like Vinum Restaurant, though, the country is starting to gain the reputation it deserves.

Vinum has recently received two important awards. First, it won the Best of Wine Tourism award for Best Portuguese Restaurant, in the Great Wine Capitals competition. Then second, at the annual Revista de Vinhos awards ceremony in Portugal, Vinum was named Best Restaurant of the Year 2013.

These two accolades are wonderful milestones by which to measure the Restaurant’s achievements over the last year. Really what they reflect though, is the passion and dedication to fine Portuguese food and wine that the whole of the Vinum team has embodied in their work in the last year. It is this that has built Vinum’s reputation as one of the best Portuguese restaurants around.

Find out more about Vinum, the menu or make a reservation here.

The VINUM Restaurant & Wine Bar at Graham’s 1890 Lodge — now open!

Vinum_LogoFollowing months of careful preparation, the VINUM restaurant at Graham’s opened its doors to the public on February 19th. The VINUM Restaurant & Wine Bar forms an integral part of Graham’s renovated 1890 Lodge, sections of which have already opened to visitors. The new visitors’ centre — ‘Graham’s 1890 Lodge’ — will be formally inaugurated on the 21st of March. This is a full working Port Lodge in Vila Nova de Gaia and especially attractive in that it now offers its visitors a restaurant and wine bar. Graham’s has teamed up with SAGARDI, www.gruposagardi.com , internationally recognized as specialists in wine-related gastronomy at the very highest level. At VINUM, you are presented with ideal food pairings for the Symington family’s extensive range of Douro and Port wines. The entrées, main courses and desserts are specially created to accompany these wines.

The Vinum Restaurant in the Graham's 1890 Lodge
The Vinum Restaurant in the Graham’s 1890 Lodge

VINUM’S Portuguese team will strive from the outset to create wonderful food from all the best natural ingredients that can be produced in, and sourced from, the North of Portugal, including of course, the Douro Valley and from the cold and clean deep waters of the neighbouring Atlantic Ocean. The Portuguese Atlantic coast has a world reputation as a source of some of the world’s very best seafood. Fresh fish will be served daily from the day’s catch, obtained from the local Matosinhos fishing harbour.

Another view of the Vinum restaurant.
Another view of the Vinum Restaurant.

Vinum’s setting is very much in the Lodge environment. To one side, once sat down at their table, diners can view the seemingly endless rows of pipes, separated from the restaurant by a clever, discreet metal and glass screen. On the opposite side there is the large bulk of the Lodge’s granite walls. Elegant iron columns support the attractive original Riga pine timbers and roofing; their seasoned tones casting an inviting, soft golden light over the tables. In short, a very atmospheric surrounding in which to enjoy delicious meals with some wonderful wines.

The 'Privado' area of the Restaurant; a reserved area for small groups or private parties.
The ‘Privado’ area of the Restaurant; a reserved area for small groups or private parties.

The restaurant comfortably seats up to 90 people and a further 64 in the adjoining Atrium terrace. If required, an additional 16 people can be accommodated at the chef’s private table. VINUM is open all year round, serving lunch and dinner, as well as light snacks and wine by the glass in the wine bar.

The Atrium: The VINUM restaurant also features a very attractive external covered seating area, on the terrace adjoining the main Lodge façade and known as ‘The Atrium.’ This terrace has one of the very best views of any restaurant in Gaia and Porto. Given the Graham’s Lodge location on high ground, it commands expansive views of the old medieval quarters of Porto and Gaia, as well as the iconic Dom Luis ‘double-decker’ bridge over the Douro River. This view is spectacular both during the day and at night, when all the medieval landmarks are beautifully floodlit. This terrace can furthermore be enjoyed in all weathers as a well designed, graceful conservatory type structure allows for year-round usage and therefore, come rain or sunshine, VINUM’S diners can always enjoy the remarkable vistas.

'The Atrium' at Vinum; enjoy your meal with incomparable views.
‘The Atrium’ at Vinum; enjoy your meal with incomparable views.

The Wine bar: with its stylish and carefree bistro ambience, visitors can enjoy a variety of snacks (‘tapas’, ‘pintxos’, sweet pastries) and wine by the glass, seated on tall stools around the bar itself or at small round tables. There is also an outside, open air terrace, ideal for enjoying Porto’s year round sunshine with a chilled white wine or perhaps a lightly chilled Old Tawny Port.

The stylish wine bar at Vinum
The stylish wine bar at Vinum

Bring your family and friends and pay us a visit at Vinum; we are confident you will be impressed. Why not come before lunch and visit our museum and lodge, enjoy an appetizer at the wine bar and then progress to the restaurant proper to sample Vinum’s superb gastronomy?

The Wine Bar at Vinum: come and enjoy wines by the glass with some great tapas
The Wine Bar at Vinum: come and enjoy wines by the glass with some great tapas!

If you would like to book a table please ring +351 220 930 417 or email us at: reservas@vinumatgrahams.com

The Wine Society’s 12th Annual Festive Dinner with Paul Symington

Paul (lower left) with his brother (directly behind) and his cousins at Graham's Quinta dos Malvedos
Paul (lower left) with his brother (directly behind) and his cousins at Graham’s Quinta dos Malvedos

Paul Symington will be the guest of honour at The Wine Society’s 12th Annual Festive Dinner, which will be held on Tuesday, December 18th in the magnificent surroundings of Merchant Taylor’s Hall in the City of London. The Wine Society extended the invitation as a way of celebrating Portugal and the wines of the Douro, with Paul’s Decanter Man of The Year 2012 Award still fresh in people’s memory.

Portuguese cuisine will also take centre stage: Rui Paula, one of Portugal’s most talented chefs, was asked to prepare a special menu for the occasion consisting of 5 courses, which will be served with a selection of Douro DOC table wines produced by the Symington Family in their own Douro Quintas, and of course with Graham’s Ports as well. The Vintage Port will be one of Graham’s 20th century classics, but we don’t want to spoil the surprise by identifying the year (for the benefit of those fortunate enough to have booked a place for the dinner, which was sold out not long after being announced).

The Graham’s Dry White Port will be served as the aperitif and another two Graham’s Ports are to be served with the dessert and cheese courses. Superb food and wine matches will be the order of the evening; Rui Paula has designed the menu around wines that he is well acquainted with, not least because he was born in Oporto and his family comes from the Douro region, which has long provided one of the main sources of inspiration for his creations.

Rui Paula, enjoying a glass of Graham's 20 Years Tawny at his 'DOP' restaurant in Oporto.

Rui Paula, enjoying a glass of Graham’s 20 Years Tawny at his ‘DOP’ restaurant in Oporto.

The Wine Society, founded in 1874, is the world’s oldest wine club and its declared mission is to “introduce members to the best of the world’s vineyards at a fair price.” The Symington family’s relationship with this unique organization has been a very fruitful and enduring one; the family has supplied The Wine Society since its very beginnings in the 19th century.

Watch this space, in the comings days we will let you know how the evening went.

Graham’s Busy Autumn in The Far East

Hong Kong Kee Club: Graham’s Ports featured in a very enjoyable Port and Food Pairing party held on October 26th at Hong Kong’s exclusive Kee Club.  The well attended party attracted over 100 VIP guests, keen to take part in this, the third edition of the popular event held jointly by Graham’s and Taylor’s. The evening was hosted by Graham’s Euan Mackay and Jorge Nunes, supported by Howard Palmes from Fine Vintage Ltd — Graham’s distributor in Hong Kong. Nicholas Heath from Taylor’s was also present.

Euan Mackay pours Graham's 20 Years Tawny from a Jeroboam (4.5 litre) bottle
Euan Mackay pours Graham’s 20 Years Tawny from a Jeroboam (4.5 litre) bottle

A variety of food pairings were offered to match a selection of Ports from the Graham’s range, and these included: Graham’s Late Bottled Vintage 2006 with Francesca Hazelnuts covered in dark chocolate; Graham’s 20 Year Old Tawny served from a unique 4.5 litre ‘Jeroboam’ bottle with Foie Gras; Graham’s 20 Year Old Tawny jelly on a chocolate biscuit and Graham’s 1980 Vintage Port with Venison Patties. For more in-depth information on Graham’s superb 1980 Vintage Port, please visit The Vintage Port Site.

Graham's Aged Tawny Ports  make wonderful food matches.
Graham’s Aged Tawny Ports make wonderful food matches.

The thrilled guests were left fully converted to the exquisite symbiosis that can be achieved between a great variety of foods and the wide-ranging styles of Port, which make it one of the most versatile of wines. Some Ports lend themselves more to the aperitif occasion, whilst others are better suited to enjoyment as after-dinner wines. The various serving opportunities also define the appropriate temperatures at which specific styles of Port should ideally be served. The enjoyment of aged tawny Ports, in particular, may be greatly enhanced by serving them lightly chilled.

A prize draw was held and the lucky winner took home a bottle of the superb Graham’s 1969 Single Harvest Tawny Port.

Euan Mackay presents a bottle of Graham's 1969 Single Harvest Port to the satisfied winner of the prize draw.
Euan Mackay presents a bottle of Graham’s 1969 Single Harvest Port to the satisfied winner of the prize draw.

Tainan, Taiwan, November 2nd: Jorge Nunes, Graham’s Asia Pacific Market Manager, stayed in party mode, flying off to Taiwan just a few days after the Hong Kong event in order to host a wine dinner in the historic city of Tainan (the ancient capital of the country). This Altano – Graham’s dinner was jointly organized by our importer, St Finesse and by our local distributor, Bacchus. The dinner showcased the Symington family’s Douro Altano still wines, as well as their best-known Ports from Graham’s.

Jorge Nunes, Asia Pacific Market Manager for Graham's (centre) at the restaurant in Tainan.
Jorge Nunes, centre, at the restaurant in Tainan. On his left is Sonia from Bacchus, the distributor in Tainan.

Tainan proved an inspired venue for this most entertaining wine dinner. It is the oldest city on the island and proudly regards itself as the birthplace of Taiwan. The city boasts a rich cultural heritage, including rich culinary traditions, which make it stand out in the country as a centre of fine cuisine. The Taiwanese themselves admire the city for its charm, and its friendly inhabitants who are very welcoming to outsiders, including an increasing number of foreign visitors.

Jorge Nunes, Graham's Asia Pacific Market Manager. To his right, Dave Huang, President of our Taiwan importer: St Finesse.
Jorge Nunes, Graham’s Asia Pacific Market Manager. To his right, Dave Huang, President of our Taiwan importer: St Finesse.

Graham’s Profile: Peter van Houtert of Verbunt Wijnkopers

Graham’s Ports are distributed in 50 markets around the globe, and our own market managers here in Vila Nova de Gaia rely on the expertise of our world-wide network of distributors to share their enthusiasm for Port in their own regions and countries.

Peter van Houtert, standing right, leading a tutored tasting of Graham’s Ports

In Holland, Peter van Houtert, Purchasing and Sales Director of Verbunt Wijnkopers, is passionate about Port wines, and his broad knowledge and love of fine wine, fine dining and cigars have made him an extraordinary ambassador for Graham’s.

Peter organises 100 events a year to educate both the on-trade wine and food professional customers of Verbunt and the retail consumers of affiliate Wijnkring.  Many of these events go beyond basic education and tastings to demonstrate how wines can be enjoyed in the context of fine dining.

Typical of his approach is the masterclass held at DaVinci Restaurant last year.  The idea came about when Peter and his family stopped there for lunch themselves one day, and Peter enjoyed a dish of hare which had been prepared with chocolate.  It occurred to him that Port could pair well with the dish, and he spoke with Margo Reuten, the two-star Michelin chef of DaVinci, about his idea.  Intrigued, Margo agreed to collaborate with Peter on an event to showcase Port with both savoury main course dishes as well as desserts.  The resulting event was a tremendous success, and the video produced by Verbunt does a wonderful job of conveying the curiosity, pleasure and enthusiasm of the diners for both the wines and the food pairings.

Similarly, Peter himself takes great pleasure in the combination of Port with cigars, as he feels that Port has the optimum alcohol level and flavour profile to balance well with fine handmade cigars.  He has teamed up with Hajenius, a nearly two-century old cigar emporium in Amsterdam, to hold regular tastings of Graham’s Ports with selected cigars.  These tastings have proven very popular, and have introduced many people to Port who might not otherwise have explored the wine.

Paul Symington and Euan Mackay welcomed Peter, centre, as a member of the Confraria do Vinho do Porto

In recognition of his passion and innovation in promoting Port Wine in the Netherlands, Graham’s Sales Director Euan Mackay nominated Peter to become an Honorary Member of the Confraria do Vinho do Porto, the Porto-based organisation of Port wine professionals.  Peter was enthroned just before the São João holiday, and went on to spend the weekend in the Douro at Dow’s Quinta do Bomfim and Graham’s own Quinta dos Malvedos with Euan, returning on Sunday in time to join the annual race of the barcos rabelos aboard Graham’s boat.

We are looking forward to working with Peter on some special events this year – if you are in Holland watch the Verbunt, Wijnkring and Hajenius websites for notices, and of course we will continue to highlight his extraordinary dinners and tastings here on the Graham’s Blog.

Graham’s 1952 Single Harvest Tawny Launches in Porto

Yesterday marked the Portuguese launch of Graham’s 1952 Single Harvest Tawny, hosted by Johnny Symington and Joaquim Augusto Cândido da Silva of Portfolio Vinhos (our Portuguese distribution subsidiary) at the Factory House in Porto.

Customers representing some of the top wine shops in the north of Portugal were invited to a presentation, luncheon and tasting of this extraordinary Port which has been specially bottled this year to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.  As the home of the British Association, a more than two century old club for English Port shippers in Porto, which hosted the Queen and Prince Philip in 1957 and other members of the British Royal Family as well as Portuguese heads of state over the years, the Factory House was a natural venue to celebrate the release.  Copies of the Times of London from the Coronation Day and the Queen’s visit to Porto, from the Factory House’s own library, were laid out for visitors to read.

Johnny Symington presenting Graham’s 1952 Single Harvest Tawny

Johnny spoke of how this wine is the result of unique and actually rather difficult circumstances:  during and after World War II many superb wines were made and simply held, like this one, rather than declared as Vintages or otherwise used up to make other styles of Port, while Port’s main markets – Europe and the UK – struggled to recover from the war and the austerity that followed for almost ten years afterwards.  Additionally, over the years our winemakers – three generations of Symingtons – recognised the quality of this wine as it was ageing and chose to hold back several pipes, rather than use it up in making our blended Tawnies.

Graham’s is honoured to have received the Palace’s approval to include the legend “To Commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II” on the label of the 1952 Single Harvest Tawny.  No other 1952 wine has been honoured in this way.  It is a testament not just to the fact of its Vintage year and its outstanding quality, but to the long standing alliance and friendship between Portugal and England, which dates back to the Treaty of Windsor in 1386.  The choice of a Port wine for this recognition is wonderful for the attention it will draw to Port and the Douro, and indeed Portugal and Portuguese wines generally.

As is traditional at The Factory House, the group gathered in the Lunch Room for a meal which concluded with Graham’s Vintage 1994 served with Apple Strudel with Vanilla Sorbet and a selection of Serra da Estrela and Stilton Cheese.  After coffee, the group moved to the Dessert Room, where they were able to enjoy Graham’s 1952 Single Harvest Tawny Port without the distraction of any lingering scents of food.  The Port was served accompanied only by dried apricots and fresh walnuts to complement the complex flavour profile of the wine.

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A limited quantity of the 1952 Single Harvest Tawny is available from select retailers in Portugal – we already have confirmed outlets in Porto, Matosinhos, Coimbra, Espinho, Braga and elsewhere.  If you need help locating this Port, please contact us through the comments below, or directly at blogadmin at grahams-port dot com (use the usual symbols, we just spell it out here to avoid spam).

Graham’s Lodge Renovations: Restaurant and Veranda

A shipment of Port leaves the Graham's Lodge for Trondheim, Norway, circa 1919.
Works in progress to create a veranda seating area for our visitors and diners.

One of the most exciting features of the renovations at Graham’s Lodge will be the opening of a restaurant.  Whilst we have previously offered dining and special events by private booking, we are looking forward to welcoming the public to our new restaurant during Lodge opening hours and in the evenings.

Originally the area at the front of the building was the dock for deliveries of port, whether new port wines arriving from the Douro at the end of the winter, or outgoing deliveries of finished Ports in cask ready to be shipped around the world.  More recently there has been a simple veranda but it was not an integral part of the visitor tour or public space.

Now, the area behind the veranda is being re-designed and will include the new shop, a private tasting room, a tapas bar, a restaurant, and a “chef’s table” area adjacent to the kitchen where we will hold exclusive Port tasting and food pairing events.

View from the Lodge circa 1905
View from the Lodge today - still breathtaking.

The restaurant seating area will extend onto the veranda itself, which will be enclosed in a glass conservatory, so our visitors and diners can enjoy the magnificent view up river year round and in all weathers.  The Graham’s Lodge, situated as it is high on the hill at a bend in the river, has a unique and spectacular view of both the Porto and Gaia waterfronts and historic landmarks such as the Dom Luis Bridge, designed by Téophile Seyrig, a one-time partner of Gustav Eiffel, the Sé Cathedral and the Serra do Pilar Monastery, where General Wellesley (better known as the Duke of Wellington) had headquarters during the Peninsular Wars.  Whilst our visitors have always enjoyed this view during the day, with the opening of the restaurant they will be able to see just how magical it is at night as well.

We look forward to welcoming you to our restaurant when the works are complete, later this year.  Keep in touch with Graham’s through the Blog, Facebook and Twitter for news of the opening and more details about the dining and wine tasting experiences we will be offering.

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Aromas and Flavours

Dominic Symington is on the road again, this week in São Paulo, Brazil at Expovinis, showing a range of Graham’s Ports including Six Grapes and the Graham’s 1983 Vintage, 10 and 20 Year Old Tawnies, and our 1969 Single Harvest Tawny.  Whilst there is nothing very unusual in this, he worked with José Carlos Santanita, of The Wine Academy who are also at Expovinis, to create an unconventional presentation and tasting experiment for visitors.

Arrayed on the table surrounding a bottle of Graham’s 20 Year Old Tawny were wine glasses, each containing samples of herbs, spices or fruits, such as star aniseed, nutmeg, pepper, orange peel, and various fresh tropical fruits.  Guests were invited to enjoy a tasting of the Tawny and then “nose” the various foodstuffs.  This helps the connoisseur to identify aromas and flavours in the wine by comparing them with an actual sample of that food, and may also suggest compatible food pairings.

Dominic’s own findings:

I did compare lemon thyme and dried desiccated orange peel … Even a hint of cinnamon stick and a little vanilla pod.   Amazing how individually you can find hints of these aromas when you smell them pure in a glass and then compare to a glass of 20 Year Old Tawny!  Sadly I didn’t have a chance to try this with a young vintage.

Anyone who has done a wine course is likely to have worked with the bottled aroma essences in wine education kits, but have you ever tried this kind of experiment with foods, flowers or other aromatic materials to compare with your Port wines?  What have you found that surprised you?