Sometimes I walk along a certain street in this city and all of a sudden a flash of random memory hits me. When you grow up and work in the same city your whole life, it’s almost like the streets can talk. It’s both a crazy and wonderful feeling to know that by visiting this restaurant or walking through that park can take me back to a moment in my life – like time travelling.
I say this because when I met the Ferreira girls (from Ferreira Café and Vasco de Gama), I instantly felt like I knew them already… and I did. Years ago, when I was working the newly opened Au Pain Doré on Peel street (throwback to 1992!), I would run bread deliveries across the street to Ferreira and so of course I already knew the whole Ferreira family!
There is something so special to me about re-encountering a part of my youth – a part that reminds me of my dad and our family business. Meeting the Ferreira family and talking about their restaurants, it’s just really close to my heart. So many parallels in our lives: Montreal-based restaurant, family entreprise, and the love of gastronomy and culinary arts. In talking the Ferreira sisters (Claudia and Sandra), I quickly learned that they have big plans that take them out of the restaurant and into the streets of Portugal. I was instantly intrigued.
Launched in February 2018, the web series “Portugal Gourmand” features Claudia Ferreira as she took to the streets of Portugal to showcase the wonderful foods she has grown to know and love throughout her youthful family trips back to her father’s hometown. Having Carlos as the family tour guide, she was able to get a strong feel for what the country has to offer and voilà, a web series was born! The reception was amazing and so now with season 2 being launched, Air Canada Vacations collaborated with Ferreira to put together a little something special.
Watching people taste great food on TV always gets me in the mood to try new flavours and get more adventurous with my own palette. Air Canada Vacations really hit the mark when they collaborated with the Ferreira family to put together an all-inclusive food tour that takes you through the restaurants of the web series, marked with the seal of approval of locals and chefs alike.
There are so many aspects of the Air Canada Vacations Portugal trip that are amazing. First, the fact that everything is taken care of from flight and hotel to restaurants and city tours. The itinerary is set, but unlike most group tours, you can choose if and when you’d like to join any of the activities. Also, a major difference is that there isn’t a bus to hop on and off of, on this tour, you drive to the tours in a car provided as part of the package. It really gives the feeling that you’re a local, I love that!
Whenever I go on a vacation, I’m always calling all of my friends to ask for recommendations or spending hours at the computer doing research and trying to figure out the must-see places and best restaurants I have to try. Don’t get me wrong, learning about a city before you go visit is part of the fun, but there is something so spectacularly easy about opting for an already organized, and pre-approved, trip. No headaches about making reservations and I don’t have to think twice about whether or not I’m seeing the best of what the city has to offer.
The Air Canada Vacations and Ferreira packages are always so well put together, and this one is no exception. Leaving from either Montreal or Toronto, the gastronomical tour through Portugal takes you to a cooking workshop in Faro, a kayak tour in Lagos, a Tuk Tuk through Lisbon, tapas, wine tasting, markets and mountains! There are two options: The Flavours of Portugal and Tastes of Northern Portugal. Both visit sensational cities throughout the country with a difference in length of stay and a city stops. But, they both bring you straight to the heart of the Portuguese culture through food, music, vineyards, beaches, and landmarks.
When I met the Ferreira girls and heard all the wonderful things they’re doing, I couldn’t help think about how incredible it is that they managed to create an offshoot business out of their lives growing up in the kitchen. A web series is particularly interesting, because nowadays that’s how we consume television (excuse the pun!). I loved my days in the kitchen, baking bread and getting to be around my family all the time. I have so many incredible memories from Au Pain Doré and I find myself so lucky to have been able to create that bond with my father while working either in the head office, in a store, or in the kitchen, representing the Etienne name, meeting wonderful people and building a family legacy. That’s what the Ferreira family is doing with their Portugal Gourmand and now with the Air Canada Vacations Portugal tours. I just know that given their upbringing and acutely cultivated palate, that these tours through Portugal are going to be a phenomenon!