Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Aboard the Good Ship Yeatman

View of Oporto across the Douro

If you have been following along with my Portugal posts you may recall that on the second day of the Wine Pleasures pre-tour we stayed overnight at the newly opened Yeatman Hotel. The Yeatman is built into the hillside above the Douro on the Vila de Gia side of the river. The grand open spaces, nautical details and juxtaposition to the river give it the feeling of a luxury ocean liner with all the rooms oriented towards the river, each with a private terrace.

Grand staircase leading to Lobby

After the Wine Pleasures tour I returned to the Yeatman to visit the private wine cellar and view the rest of the property. I stayed on for few days and got to unwind after a jam packed schedule.

The Yeatman is designed not only to take full advantage of the glorious views of Porto across the river. But also to highlight the wine producers of the region. Rooms are named after different wineries and showcase their wine. For die-hard oenophiles one of the Barrel rooms may be to your liking. That's right, you get to sleep inside a barrel.

Sweet dreams of fermentation


A tour of the impressive cellars turned up a few surprises, like a bottle of Ridge Monte Bello from my home state of California. The plan is to allow guests to visit the cellar between 4-6pm and select a bottle for dinner, then based on their selection, the Yeatman chefs create a meal to pair with the wine. I love this idea. It would be worth a trip back just to experience this concept alone. But with all those wines to choose from I'd need to stay a month or more! Below is a brief slide show of what the cellars hold.

video

One special highlight of my was the lunch I had in the dining room. I dined alone with only the view as my companion and the attentive staff. Dining solo in this type of setting allows you to focus entirely on the food and not feel compelled to make idle chit-chat. Not that I don't like to share, it's just a gift to have things to yourself sometimes. Although I did not partake of any of the Yeatman Spa offerings while I was there, my meal in the hands of chef Ricardo Costa was like a full spa treatment for the taste buds.

To start I had a glass of the 2009 Crasto and the first Amuse bouche set in Three Spoons--
Black Spoon: Scallops with apricot, green asparagus and beurre blanc.
Sliver Spoon: Smoked duck with foie gras, portuguese blood sausage and caviar
White Spoon: Sea urchin cream with caviar
Macaron of Serra del Estrela cheese
Foie gras truffle

Amuse bouche 2: Tuna terrine with foie gras and oyster yogurt and mushroom dust.

First Course: National Octopus with Crab cannelloni, sun dried tomato bread, molecular olives and green tomato consomme with olive oil.

Second: Megrim (a type of white fish) with vitelote potato flakes, vegetable gratin and fennel sauce.

Third: Algrave Almond cheesecake, spearmint sorbet, with hailed orange juice sorbet and vanilla with Taylors 2004 LBV Port.

Coffee and Mignardises ( Pasteis de Belem shown above)

The only thing that pulled me out of my reverie with the meal was the odd background soundtrack playing muzak versions of I Could Have Danced All Night from My Fair Lady, Frank Sinatra's The Lady is a Tramp, U2's I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, and most strange of all the Theme from MASH--Suicide Is Painless ...um what SiriusXM Channel is that?

The Yeatman is an experience with a capital E. It's luxurious, but not in an oppressive old-guard way--it's light and modern and accommodating in a most gracious way. It's worth a visit for the views alone. Stop in for a port cocktail in the laid-back bar overlooking the Douro and see if you don't feel like you are about to float away on the Good Ship Yeatman.


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