Madeira: Day 5 – Paul’s Birthday!

Food and Wine Tour of Funchal followed by pure R&R at Madeira's legendary Reid's Palace with more Michelin-starred dining in the evening with Chef Pestana.

Paul’s Birthday!

We headed down to Breakfast – not a great start as girls reached to hug and kiss Paul and knocked the coffee flying – the Savoy staff were NOT impressed. Also no effort made at all to offer anything to celebrate Paul’s birthday despite their request to let them know about special occasions which I had dutifully completed…Ho, hum … very poor service all round for a 5 star establishment.

We had a giggle never the less and I apologised to the younger waitress who had come to clean up the coffee and explained that it was Paul’s birthday and asked whether we may have some of the complimentary fizz – she was very sweet and tried her best, bless her.

Our Funchal Food & Wine Walking Tour commenced at 10:30am and included 11 food and wine tastings. We met in the small Funchal gardens – again, the smells and flora all so reminiscent of my childhood in Durban. Our guide was lovely and informative explaining the history of Funchal where she had been born.

The stop at Blandy’s was very interesting and we enjoyed sampling all the different types of Madeira wine… interestingly on the long sea voyages, the locally produced wines would be exposed to excessive heat and movement which transformed the flavour of the wine. This was discovered by the wine producers of Madeira when an unsold shipment of wine returned to the islands after a round trip. Our guide kindly gave Paul a set of four mini bottles fo his birthday!

The winery backs onto one of the oldest street in Madeira!

We continued on to stop off at Fabrica Santo Antonio, a delightfully old-fashioned shop, with its early 20th-century display cases, scales and counters still in place, from which staff offer the classic made-in-Madeira tooth-rotters such as brightly packaged bolo de mel (molasses cake), sugar-cane biscuits and traditional jams. Apparently at Christmas time there is a queue a mile long outside for locals wanting to purchase Madeira cake for the festive season!

Chocolate addicts will love the next stop: Uaucacau is not only a superb design made delicatessen store, but also hosts artisan chocolates made with Madeiran traditional fruits, flowers and tastes. These chocolates are served at all high end hotels – divine.

A Food and Wine tour would not be complete without a Poncho – this place is apparently theonly place where it is still made with the traditional method with the wooden implement to crush the fruit…

Covid does provide some humour…!

A spot of tapas and crispy white wine was next on the agenda – apparently this place buzzes on a Friday evening … our samples were delicious.

We also did a tour of the fish market and fruit market which we had previously covered when we arrived…next up was Gelato …

Our final stop was something that our Guide use to do every Sunday with her GrandMa – typical Madeiran fare with a Brisca drink, ham roll and followed by a sweet pastry – yum…we were stuffed!

It was time to check in at Reid’s Palace – we just LOVE Belmond – so classy and everything is guaranteed to be perfect. This smart hotel is located in 10 acres of sub tropical gardens on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Bay of Funchal … we were ready for pure relaxation!

Beautiful flowers abound and we received a warm welcome gist and card congratulating Paul on his birthday with a bottle of Moet…

We passed out by the pool for the afternoon snoozing, reading and relaxing – bliss.

That evening for Paul’s birthday Victor the Food and Beverage Manager had arranged a special dinner courtesy of Michelin-stared Chef Pestana on the terrace as William was not open due to Covid. It was magnificent. A wonderful birthday celebration.

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