A few years ago, my wife and I wanted to go to a cooking school. We looked at Italy and France and discovered that they were very expensive. We stumbled upon a cooking school in the Alentejo area of Portugal (100 miles from Lisbon) almost to the Spanish border. We had been to Portugal a few times before and spoke very little Portuguese.
The hotel is a converted horse manor, beautifully decorated near the center of the quiet town. The outside wall of the hotel has one of the stations of the Cross. We went during Holy Week and there was an evening religious procession. The hotel has an excellent restaurant on site.
The Cooking School was one of our live's best experiences. We would get up everyday and eat the sumptuous breakfasts. At mid-morning, we would go out into the garden and pick our herbs and vegetables for that day's meals. We would start food preparation for about five dishes, including an appetizer and a dessert. About 11:30 we would be served wine and substantial appetizers while we cooked. At 1:30 we would eat our food with another 1-2 bottles of wine. In the afternoon we would be escorted to a local site like the UNESCO's Evora or Roman fountains or a winery. The sites were fabulous. At about 6 we would stop at a local pousada and have a bottle of wine and some appetizers.
Between 8 and 9 we would have a five course dinner back at the hotel with 1 or 2 bottles of wine. We had this wonderful experience for an entire week.
We compiled all of our recipes into a little cookbook and gave them out as Christmas presents.
It was a very memorous experience. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
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