Wednesday, 30.08.17. Ericeira and Gradil, Portugal. 1 day until the wedding. Fourth full day in Europe.
Ahhh, wedding eve! If we weren’t already nervous, the nerves really kicked in today! Although, I have to say, day 5 started out pretty easy with some lounging, drinking, and eating European flavored potato chips by the pool! Most people were in town by this point and everyone was starting to hang out especially after Day 4’s big Welcome Cocktail Hour!
Our morning started with breakfast at Hotel Vila Gale. Breakfast came with all rooms and consisted of a pretty big buffet – including sparking wine! We took our breakfast outside, and, after breakfast, we made our way down to the pool. We ran into a few of our guests at breakfast, which was very fun!
After a bit at the pool, I took a stroll through town (I was terrified of getting burned)! I love Ericeira; it was really lovely to have a leisurely stroll through town. I may have picked up a souvenir or two…and I ran into a few of our guests on the street!
After my stroll through Ericeira, and a bit more laying, it was time to get ready for our big wedding-eve dinner! Since Dan and I had a small wedding with a tiny wedding party, we did not have a wedding rehearsal. Instead, we had a farm tour, cocktail hour, and dinner at a Portuguese farm, Quinta do Arneiro, with all of our guests!!
We had visited Quinta do Arneiro on a previous visit and had been working with the owner to plan our rehearsal dinner for a few months prior to the rehearsal dinner. In any case, we were very excited for this dinner! A bus took all of our guests from Hotel Vila Gale to Quinta do Arneiro, and our bus showed up right on time (a huge relief)! After a 25 minute drive, we arrived at Quinta do Arneiro in Gradil, Portugal – the same town as our wedding venue.
Upon arrival at Quinta do Arneiro, I remembered how beautiful Quinta do Arneiro is! Seriously, Quinta do Arniero is gorgeous; we could have had our wedding here without question! The restaurant is the main building, but its surrounded by beautiful pink houses and lush rolling hills. A truly stunning property.
Our rehearsal dinner evening started with a walking tour of Quinta do Arneiro led by the owner, Mariana. She did not speak perfect English, but she was so nice and did a great job! We toured the entire farm, including the green houses, and saw lots of produce that we would be eating later! We ended the tour picking Quinta do Arneiro’s famous strawberries, which I had been hearing about since our very first visit to Quinta do Arneiro in March!
After the farm tour and our strawberries, everyone reconvened just outside the restaurant for a cocktail (slightly long than an) hour. Saxophonist, Nana Sousa Dias, provided us with lovely music, and Quinta do Arneiro put out quite the cocktail hour spread. For drinks, Quinta do Arneiro served THE BEST white sangria, Portuguese wine, and a selection of natural juices. For food, rosemary and dried tomato focaccia with herb butter and the most delicious tomato and mozzarella bruschetta with basil were on offer. Absolutely delicious!
Eventually, dinner was ready and everyone made their way into the main dining room, which looks into the most beautiful kitchen that I have ever seen! But seriously, this kitchen could be in a movie (see below).
Quinta do Arneiro also set up the tables really beautifully! They were even nice enough to use our extra napkins from the cocktail hour and put up a sign that Michelle had made for my bridal shower. After everyone was seated (I prepared a seating chart before I left and the Quinta set out name tags), Dan’s father gave a very sweet speech about Dan and me and the restaurant poured drinks for everyone!
While everyone was loving the dining room and listening to Alan’s speech, Quinta do Arneiro was working hard on our delicious meal, which started with one of my favorites – roasted tomato and basin soup. I love tomato soup, and this was nooo exception! The tomatoes were grown on site! Perfect start to the meal, especially with the warm, freshly made Mafra bread on the table!
Second course was a zucchini flower salad and fresh greens from the garden; both grown on premises and excellent! In fact, we saw them on our tour earlier! This dish, and those going forward, were served family style, so everyone could try everything. I was particularly happy with the level of healthiness, as I had a wedding dress to fit into the following day. I think everyone else was, too!
For mains, Quinta do Arneiro served two – a beetroot risotto with feta cheese and beef filets with carrot puree, spring beans and onions with sesame seed. Both dishes were delicious but, I have to say (and everyone agreed with me), the beetroot risotto was the STAND OUT dish of the evening, and possibly the entire trip!! Seriously, the entire group could not stop talking about that beetroot risotto. I was especially happy with the beetroot risotto because I generally do not like beets. This, however, was not “beety” and had a healthy portion of feta cheese – and it was pink!
The meal ended with dessert – those fresh strawberries from the farm (but not the ones we picked!), a gluten free apple crumble, and a sorbet dish. Once again, I was super happy that all of the dishes were relatively healthy given that the wedding was within 24 hours! Of the desserts, the gluten free apple crumble was my favorite! It tasted like real apple crumble! The sorbet was also tasty, as were the strawberries!
After dinner, everyone hung out, took pictures, finished the wine, and enjoyed coffee before heading back to Hotel Vila Gale in Ericeira! The bus played some interesting music on the way back to the Quinta – like Titanic soundtrack weird (maybe it was supposed to be romantic?) – and I ended the evening with 1 drink at the hotel bar and then bed! Wedding day tomorrow!!!!!
30 August, 2017. Quinta do Arneiro, Gradil, Portugal. Stolen photo creds: Joanne Cozzi, the Perrys, Rachel Gallagher.
Read about the rest of my lovely wedding week here:
- Wedding Week Day 1: Finally in Lisbon Portugal
- Wedding Week: Day 2. A Tour of Belem and a Sunset Cruise on the Tagus River!
- Wedding Week: Day 3. Touring Lisbon’s Highlights
- Wedding Week: Day 4. Lisbon to Ericeira and Our First Official Wedding Event!