Orujo & Oysters

For those who like to enjoy the finer things in life, Atlantic Europe has gastronomic delights to be discovered at every port. With UNESCO regions for wine (the Port Wine at Douro Valley near Porto) and food (France), fine wines and great cuisine literally do abound.

Brittany, the home of the famous Cancale oyster, has in fact 13 different types of oyster and a wide variety of crustaceans to offer on fresh seafood platters. Crêpes of all kinds can be found in Brest, and there are a number of speciality spice shops worth visiting nearby that have been created by a local 3* Michelin chef.

Seafood is a core part of the diet in a number of the Atlantic Europe ports, not least of which is A Coruña – the home of Orujo. Try Vieira, the fan-shaped scallop known as the pilgrim’s shell, or pulpo, lovely fresh, local octopus. Also worth sampling is their traditional sugar loafs, classic Galician dishes such as Lacon con grelos (salted ham with chorizo) and, of course, their regional tipples.

Orujo de Galicia is probably best drunk in small quantities (it is a high alcohol firewater) but there are a number of excellent bodegas to be visited and wines to be sampled too. Try Albarino, a highly respected dry white.

Along the Atlantic Europe coastline it is probably true to say, however, that the Rioja region is probably most famous for its wine. Only 90 minutes from Bilbao and you are in the heart of Rioja country where you’d expect to find fine whites and reds. You will also find serious gastronomy with seafood, cod cooked in a variety of special ways, baby eels and, the biggest surprise of all, a local cider to sample too.

In fact, cider appears more than once in the regions best known for wine. Mont St Michel has a local favourite too, along with a whisky distillery Glann ar Mor.

Cork, however, is perhaps best known for its whiskey. ‘Without fear’ is the Jameson family motto, but it is without a doubt that the distillery deserves a visit, if only to sample the first triple distilled whiskey in the world. Also native to Cork and worth trying is Porter Cake, a dark beer, a glass of Guinness, a good, traditional Irish Stew and a glass of infamous Irish Coffee.

Wine and beer can be also be found at Dover in Kent, the ‘garden of England’. The Shepheard Neame Brewery is a fascinating mix of traditional ingredients brewed with modern techniques. The Chapel Down Winery at Tenterden Vineyard produces a wide range of still and sparkling wines worth sampling.

But for the wine with the longest tradition and strongest alcohol content, you have to go to Lisbon. Producer of port since the 1830s, it has a number of famous regional wines: Vinho Verde, Moscatel and Colares. From the Douro Valley near Porto to Serra de Sintra near Lisbon, there are fine wines and fine food to be sampled. Traditional bacalhau (cod fishcakes) and cozido à Portuguesa (from Lisbon), francesinha (a Porto speciality of steak, sausage and cheese), and a range of highly popular local sweets like the Pastéis de Nata (custard tart) from Belém.

At every stop of Cruise Atlantic Europe there is food and wine to set the taste buds tingling. To explore and experience the finer things in life.