Old Port, Fresh Oranges, and the Perfect Dessert in Portugal

May 24, 2012

I will confess to not drinking a lot of Port, let alone old Port. But when magically paired with an orange-tinged, custard-y tart, I was hard-pressed to think of a more perfect match.

How fresh are the oranges that permeate and accompany the tart? Well, at Quinta dos Murcas winery in the Portugal's picturesque Douro wine region, the oranges don't travel far from the property to your plate:

porgual douro old port oranges

While visiting the winery on a press trip, we sat down to an extraordinary lunch after enjoying the wonderful views showcased in the two photos above. What made the lunch so memorable was not the fancy factor but rather that it was so lovingly and skillfully prepared by the cook at Quinta dos Murcas. (Ana Maria.)

douro quinta dos murcas port oranges dessert

What a perfectly baked, beautiful dessert! The orange notes paired well with a candied orange zest--almost a orange liqueur--flavor in the port. And the tart had a slight nuttiness (possibly something in the crust?) that also complimented the similar flavors in the aged port. Or maybe the nutty flavor of the port imparted what seemed to be the presence of almonds or walnuts in the tart? The interplay of the port and the dessert were so seamless and complimentary, like they were made for each other.

port oranges douro

So what exactly was this port? The mysterious bottle said nothing but "old port" on it. (Not much help). They were pretty demure at Quinta dos Murcas as far as the age, but suggested that it was a 40-50 year-old port. And, unfortunately, not for sale. (Though you can find a very fine 10 Year-Old Tawny port from Quinta dos Murcas.)

port dessert orange douro

(Are you noting that the tart keeps shrinking in size?)

So while I'm used to Port as something to keep you warm by the fire or accompany blue cheese and chocolate (separately), consider a custard dessert with some nut and orange influence the next time you have a Port with some age on it.

This lovely lunch took place during a press trip sponsored by Esporao, who also own Quinta dos Murcas. I was an invited guest.