The Montebelo Vista Alegre hotel in Ílhavo is a hidden travel-destination gem in the center of Portugal. The hotel has a stunning location on the marshes where river and sea water meet.
The building complex incorporates the elegant manor house of José Pinto Bastos, the entrepreneur who two centuries ago pioneered the production of porcelain in Portugal. You can visit an interesting museum that traces the evolution of Vista Alegre from a risky experiment to a renowned porcelain brand. It is also wonderful to visit the porcelain factory, the place where earth and fire combine to serve the imagination of designers and sculptors.
One of the pleasures of a stay at the Vista Alegre hotel are the appetizing meals served in the restaurant headed by chef Cristina Almeida. For the last three decades, Cristina has been creating and refining recipes based on Portugal’s culinary tradition. Since she opened the hotel’s restaurant in 2016, Cristina has had the luxury of serving her food in the elegant dinnerware produced by Vista Alegre.
Two of our favorite dishes at the Vista Alegre restaurant are lamb rice with mushrooms and chestnuts and velvety codfish. We enjoyed these culinary treasures so much that we dared to ask Cristina whether she would share the recipe with our readers. She graciously agreed, so here they are.
Lamb rice with mushrooms and chestnuts
Ingredients for four people
- 600 grams of baby lamb
- 400 grams of rice (Cristina uses the Carolino variety produced in Portugal)
- 1 garlic clove
- 250 grams of onions
- 100 grams of chestnuts
- 100 grams of mushrooms
- 0.2 liters of white wine
- 0.1 liters of red wine
- 0.1 liters of olive oil
- Seasonings: thyme, bay leaf, piri-piri, and salt
Cut the lamb into small pieces. Marinate it with garlic, bay leaf, the two wines, thyme and salt. Dice the onion and fry it in olive oil. Add the lamb and fry with the onion. Add the chestnuts, mushrooms, and let the mixture cook a bit more. Add enough water to cook the rice and make plenty of sauce. Wait until the mixture boils and add the rice. As soon as the rice is cooked, serve immediately.
Ingredients for five people
- 200 grams of codfish without bones
- 0ne leek
- 1 garlic clove
- 150 grams of onion
- 1 kg. of potatoes
- 0.15 liters of olive oil
- Seasonings: parsley and coriander.
- Garnish: roasted peppers
Cut the codfish in cubes. Place the codfish, leek, onion, potatoes, parsley, and coriander in a pot. Cover the ingredients with water and let them boil until cooked. In a frying pan, fry the garlic with 1/3 of the olive oil. Add to the boiling mixture. Put the mixture in a blender and blend until smooth. Serve garnished with roasted peppers.
Click here for the website of the Montebelo Vista Alegre hotel.