Iberia Airlines: Porto – Madrid

img_9030
Iberia Airlines

Iberia Airlines
Flight 8727
Porto – Madrid
Depart 12:15 PM, Arrive 2:25 PM

After finishing our stay in Porto, we had decided to go to Madrid for a couple of days before heading home.

img_6942-1
Retail Ticket Price

The prices for the short 273 mile, 1 ½ hour flight came at a staggering price. Tickets were going for over $500 for any direct flight. As we traveled during the summer, direct flights on Ryan Air or TAP Portugal was unavailable. Flights on Iberia were available for an astronomical price.

Fortunately, I was able to book award flights using British Airways Avios for a mere 4,500 and $14 per person. I’d gladly spend 9,000 Avios and $28 for tickets retailing for over $1,000 any time.

The Porto metro has a stop at the Porto airport, so it is very convenient when traveling from the city.

img_9027
Porto Airport

The Porto airport is a regional airport, but was somewhat busy when we arrived. Despite that, we were through security and in the gate area in under 30 minutes.

img_9029
Porto Airport

The Porto airport is very impressive. Although small, it has a big open fell with a glass roof.

img_9026
Porto Airport

The airport offers free wifi and the use of computers for all passengers.

img_9025

There are also water dispensers near the gate areas that serve ice cold water. This was great during the hot summer months.

img_9028
Bus to Plane

We were shuttled to the plane via bus.

img_9031
Economy Seating

Seating on Iberia was normal economy seats, but almost anything is passable on such a short flight. Surprisingly the flight was fairly empty, so I am not sure how Iberia justifies the prices for this flight.

Using Avios, whether British Airways or through Iberia’s program directly, can be a great way to travel cheaply especially on intra-Europe or intra-Asia flights. With the plethora of low cost carriers in these regions however, picking and choosing your spots is a definite must. If you do have luggage, using miles or flying the bigger airlines may save you on baggage fees.

Cantina 32 Restaurant – Porto, Portugal

img_8716
Cantina 32

Cantina 32 is a relatively new restaurant in Porto, and one of the harder reservations to get. I knew Cantina 32 was popular, but didn’t realize that advanced reservations were almost a must. After speaking with the concierge at the Intercontinental, he offered to call the restaurant to see if they had any openings. Luckily, there was an opening for the following day.

img_8720
Dining Room
img_8727
Decor

The restaurant is on the smaller side, and is decorated like a home. Exposed wood beams, and shelves with dishes and knickknacks.

img_8728
Decor

There is even a bike adorning the walls.

img_8724
Bread
img_8725
Banana Butter

For the first time during the trip, we engaged in the bread service, mainly to try the infamous banana butter. The bread had a nice crispy crust, and a pillowy soft and chewy middle. The butter was sprinkled with chunks of salt. The butter had a distinct but subtle banana flavor in the back of your throat.

img_8726
Olives & Lupine Beans

The bread course also came with olives and lupine beans, which we did not try.

img_8735
Pumpkin Cream Soup

The Pumpkin Cream Soup (3.50) was kind of disappointing. It tasted like pureed vegetables with pumpking oil on top. It was missing any cream or dairy to give it some body. The soup also contained orange, which added a nice brightness, sweetness and acidic punch. The chives helped to give an added punch of flavor.

img_8732
Iceberg Lettuce Salad

The Iceberg Lettuce Salad (€7) came with poached pears, nuts, crispy onions, bacon and Parmesan cheese. The lettuce was fresh and crisp, but the amount of cheese tended to overpower all of the other ingredients.

img_8729
Sautéed Octopus

The Sautéed Octopus with Sweet Potato (€8.50) contained tender octopus that tasted like it was overcooked as it was slightly mushy. This lightened the octopus taste, which can be a little strong for some people. The sweet potato added a slight sweetness and earthiness to the dish. The portion was also rather generous.

img_8730
Portabello Mushroom

The Portobello with Caramelized Onion, Goat Cheese, Bacon & Red Pepper Jam (€8.50) comes with two fairly large Portobello mushrooms. Topped with caramelized onions (which could have cooked for a longer to really bring out its inherent sweetness), oozing goat cheese (which was creamy and earthy), bacon and a sweet red pepper jam. The red pepper jam was a little too sweet for my liking, but overall this was a solid dish. The pears were cold, but the bacon and fried onions/shallots topping the dish were lost from the taste of the goat cheese and/or red pepper jam.

img_8734
Beef Carpaccio

The Beef Carpaccio (€9.50) came with truffle sauce and shaved foie gras. The carpaccio was cut very thinly and had a nice beef flavor. The beef was tender, and the foie gras was thinly shaved and immediately melted on the tongue as soon as it hit. The rocket (arugula) helped to cut the richness and added a peppery punch to the dish.

img_8731
Tiger Prawns

The Legendary Tiger Prawns (€28) came three to an order. The prawns were cooked well and were meaty, but still tender at the same time. The garlic butter and lemon paired very well with the prawns. The prawns aren’t as big as the ones at Ramiro, but are still a solid choice.

img_8733
Grilled Chuck Eye Steak

The Grilled Chuck Eye Steak (€25) was cooked to a nice medium rare. The beef was very tender and flavorful. Roasted potatoes and garlic also came with the dish. The potatoes were nice and creamy, while the garlic’s punch was toned down by roasting it while also bringing out the natural sugars of the garlic.

img_8737
Cheesecake
img_8740
Cheesecake

The Cheesecake (€3.50) is their signature dessert, and rightfully so. The cheesecake comes in a surreal presentation of a potted plant. The “dirt” are cookie crumbles. The cheesecake is thick and creamy. Caramelized bananas loom just beneath the dirt. The cheesecake does more than live up to the shock value appearance.

Cantina 32 is one of the most popular restaurants in Porto. Although it will likely never get a Michelin star, a trip here is well worth it during any visit.

Casa Guedas – Porto, Portugal

img_9007
Casa Guedas

Casa Guedas is known far and wide for their roasted pork sandwiches. Although there are operating hours on the door, this appears to be an “approximation” of their hours, especially their opening hours of 8:30 AM.

We were hoping to hit this place up before heading to the airport, and had to wait a good 40 minutes after their stated opening hours of 8:30 AM to dive in.

The restaurant is very simple, and the front of the restaurant is very tiny.

The owner seems like a nice guy, but a little rough around the edges, especially early in the morning.

img_9014
Roast Pork

A nice roast pork greets you at the counter.

img_9011
Patio
img_9010
Patio

There is a patio area with a few tables for patrons to enjoy their meal.

img_9017
Sande de Pernil

The Sande de Pernil is a roast pork sandwich. The pork is thinly shaved, and the amount of pork is plentiful. The pork is tender and juicy.

img_9018
Sande de Pernil com Presunto

The Sande de Pernil com Presunto combines the same roasted pork with Parma ham. The Parma ham added a nice saltiness to the sandwich.

Something must have gotten lost in translation as we wanted cheese on both sandwiches, but they came without cheese. We didn’t really realize this until we were nearly finished, as the sandwiches are that good. Oh well, it just means that another trip to Porto is in order, LOL.

Padaria Ribeiro – Porto, Portugal

IMG_8370.jpg

Padaria Ribeiro is a small bakery that seems to have a constant flow of customers. We arrived shortly before closing time, so the choices were limited and we had to get our pastries to go.

The item that drew me to Padaria Ribeiro was the wine soaked croissant. The thought of the pastry sounded very intriguing and appetizing.

IMG_8380.jpg

The wine soaked croissants were very different than the French croissants. The pastry was more bread like, instead of flaky and buttery. The bottom of the croissants were soaked in a mixture of white port and sugar. The alcohol could certainly be ascertained, but the soaking liquid was rather sweet.

The Portuguese egg tart (nata) was flaky, with a nice burnt custard. The nata was also on the sweeter side, which seems to be a recurring theme with pastries and desserts in Portugal.

The bolos de arroz integral is a rice cake that was more muffin like. The cake had a slight crunchy texture due to the rice. The cake was a tad on the dry side, but still a solid choice.

The brigadeiro is truffle like. It is made with condensed milk, cocoa powder, butter and chocolate sprinkles. The brigadeiro was rich and creamy, and the chocolate sprinkles added a slight textural contrast.

I would like to come back here earlier in the day to see their entire menu and try out more pastries. I think coming so late in the day, we were kind of stuck with the leftovers and things weren’t at their peak.