Charles Metcalfe and Kathryn McWhirter are a formidable team. I know of Charles from his numerous appearances on food-related shows like Good Food Live on the UKTV Food network. Kathryn has a wealth of experience as both a food and wine journalist and editor.
I had expected this book to be just a guide to Portuguese wine, but it’s much more than that. It is, in fact, just what the title says, a guide for lovers of both wine and food. It’s a sumptuous and chunky volume that I find most appealing. There is no verbal or graphic padding, this is just cover to cover information, lovely photographs, and charm.
This book works on two levels. First, as a guide for those who are lucky enough to take a trip to Portugal and second, for the rest of us who want to know more about the country and its food and wine. I should say that this book will very likely encourage you to go to Portugal even if you hadn’t considered it before.
Kathryn and Charles lead us around every region of Portugal, introducing us to wineries, directing us to good restaurants, pointing out places of interest along the way, and escorting us to the most comfy places to spend the night. You’ll feel confident that you’re getting the most out of your visit.
Let’s take Douro as just one example. It’s a region in North East Portugal. There’s a large-scale map with places of food- and wine-related interest and accommodation clearly marked. Next it’s pages and pages of information about wine. Remember we are just looking at the wine of this small region and there is a handy list of wines to watch out for. The next section covers food and where to buy it, either in a restaurant (there is a comprehensive list) or at a market, deli or specialist food shop.
You won’t want to be eating and drinking all the time, so take notice of the Exploring Douro pages that are full of ideas to pass the time. Boat trips, train rides, spectacular views and even local festivals are all listed, and after a long day you’ll pick your guest house from the dozens reviewed, relax with a glass of Port and make plans for tomorrow.
Every element of this book had been meticulously researched by people who have an obvious love of Portugal, its wines and its people. It’s informative, fascinating and a thoroughly gorgeous book. I hope that Charles Metcalfe and Kathryn McWhirter will consider writing similar guides for other wine-producing countries.
The Wine and Food Lover’s Guide to Portugal
Authors: Charles Metcalfe and Kathryn McWhirter (www.innhousepublishing.com)
Published by: Inn House Publishing
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018