It took us 4 days to reluctantly depart from Nuno’s place in northern Alentejo. For privacy reasons, I did not photograph any of the people invited – except for a fleeting image of Jeanne – or his house. But I had free reign to photograph any detail.

The days were a constant swirl of activity. Nuno pulled out all the stops. The food was earthy, country elegant and wonderful. September is vindima time in the northern Alentejo, and the grapes were being harvested for Nuno’s limited production organic wine. We rode in calèches and took long walks in the country side. There was horseback riding for the aficionados, exciting conversations, music, and last but not the least, all eyes were on Jeanne and Nuno.

Luisa, the pretty maid, seeing us go on another outing.

Our dog Maxi loved the freedom.

The vindima workers.

Forget about cars. Caleches are the way to move around.

The children from Nuno's school watching a puppet show.

Meals were always in different settings. Breakfasts on the terrace, lunches on elegantly set tables among the trees, dinners in the main dining room or on the porch, picnics under the cork oaks, elevenses. We did not stop eating. Guida prepared fantastic meals with vegetables and herbs from the house garden and meat from the farm’s chickens and sheep. We ate Sável from the nearby river. Sinful and divine desserts. The food was typically Portuguese country and finger licking delicious.

Guida's kitchen.

Breakfast on the terrace.

A hearty vegetable soup.

Guida's pasteis de nata, the typical Portuguese cream confection.

Freshly baked chicken empadas.

Fresh Alentejo tomato soup, made with requeijao, a rich cottage cheese.

Veal fricassee.

Chicken in a red wine sauce.

An orange flan

Nuno’s passion, the Lusitanian horses, are magnificent, regal, symbols of the eternal. They are beautifully proportioned, holding their heads high as if to be crowned. I just stared from a distance. I know nothing about horses, but anyone can see that these are superior animals, made to be ridden by the greater gods of Ancient Greece.

Jeanne and Nuno, what can I say? Nuno is completely smitten by her, and I think Jeanne is equally over the moon. In fact she stayed on in the Alentejo, and Nuno will be driving her to the airport when she returns to Paris. Are they going to get together and live happily ever after? I doubt it. Nuno loves his place and is not a moveable beast. Jeanne loves her life and I doubt she is about to give up her profession and freedom. But I think their romance will continue, in the Alentejo, in Paris, or anywhere they arrange to meet.

This visit to Nuno’s farm was a wonderful interlude, an aria in molto allegretto.


  1. This Nuno was almost for sure my childhood friend! No kidding. Thank you for sharing.

  2. The photo at the window is extraordinary.

    As for the rest, some day...

  3. I can hardly believe the beauty of this vacation. Like a dream, Celeste! I don't know much about horses, either, but what a gorgeous photo. And how I would have loved to taste those dishes. I'm sighing, and sighing.

  4. Oh Celeste, these tastes, smells, and sights could not be more familiar to me. I have tears in my eyes. I lived in Lisbon but spent most of my weekends at my aunt's farm in Ribatejo. I love the "lezirias", the horses, the vineyards. These brought me back in time in a way that hurts the heart in a good way.

    What a perfect setting for Nuno and Jeanne's flowering romance :)



  5. Hi Celeste, what a great time you had in Alentejo. What an incredible place. It has been so nice meeting you.
    Muchos cariños
    María Cecilia

  6. what a dream interlude.....what a wonderful way for you and bob to end your summer hiatus. and the photos are magnificent. i shamelessly drool over the dishes presented.....lovely lovely. thank you for sharing this special time and place.

  7. What a wonderful place, what food, what delights and romance from a far as well.
    Thank you for a glimplse

  8. Is Nuno the one on the horse?!! I can see why Jeanne is smitten by him!

    The food there makes me wish I was a better cook. Oh, to eat like that at every meal.

  9. Wow! Double Wow with you everytime, nice story, elegant horses well looked arrogant too :) you always had a good time, meal,ambient in serene place. Loved it! Heading Madrid or already there...miss you...hugs.

  10. I just post a comment, and it said comment could not be empty. Well, I told you I'm impressed with you everytime, you having a good life, good meal in serene place. The elegant horses looked arrogant too :) You're heading Madrid or already there? Miss you...hugs always :)

  11. I just posted a comment, and it said comment could not be empty. Well, I told you I'm impressed with you everytime, you having a good life, good meal in serene place. The elegant horses looked arrogant too :) You're heading Madrid or already there? Miss you...hugs always :)

  12. I just post a comment, and it said comment could not be empty. Well, I told you I'm impressed with you everytime, you having a good life, good meal in serene place. The elegant horses looked arrogant too :) You're heading Madrid or already there? Miss you...hugs always :) (I think I signed in as different blog) sorry)

  13. Such a wonderful interlude on your journey back to Madrid and you brought it so alive for me with your descriptions and photos.

    Oh, those pasteis de nata - my husband's favourite. He had those every morning for breakfast in a nearby Tavira cafe when he lived there. I tried making them and they were not even a passable imitation.

  14. Hi Celeste, Well now I am hungry. What an amazing vacation and your photos belong in a magazine. Everything looks so charming. The horses are gorgeous! The countryside and vineyards are so inspiring. Makes me want to paint!!

    Don't work too hard with the housecleaning and blessings going back to work.
    Have a great weekend.
    Hugs, Celestina Marie

  15. Oh my, Celeste. It seems like a fairy tale to me. I just had breakfast a while ago and I am hungry looking at all that food. Those horses are a gift from god. All horses are for me. I grew up riding horses but I must say, not the kind in your pictures. If someone else had our pony I would ride a work horse. Brings back fond memories. Good that you are back.

  16. Fantásticas imagens mostram bem que uma atmosfera de lugares como que "sagrados" ...

  17. What a wonderful visit! You are so incredibly lucky to have your life. Yes, I know what you would say, but being in a similar situation, I will always say that quality counts for far more than quantity.
    All the same, I sincerely hope that such times will never end.

  18. Hi Celeste Maia,
    What a wonderful post.
    All i can say is wow!

  19. Exquisite, a glimpse of heaven.

  20. My what a lovely trip you had. I enjoyed seeing and hearing all about it. Makes me feel like I was along too. Very interesting.

  21. How wonderful to share such a great visit. Thank you. I rode in a caleche in Central Park in NYC 44 years ago. Of course they were just called horse drawn carriages but it's a caleche for me from now on. I wonder if they still have them?

  22. Celeste,
    Oh my, what beauty! and the food, the table settings, the kitchen, the horses all are spectacular. It must have felt like a dream to be there for you and your dog. What lovely memories.

  23. Pictue perfect. I felt like I was there.

  24. Oh my --- I'm in heaven just seeing the photos. Can't imagine the down-to-the-marrow delight you had actually being there. Can't wait to see the painting you said you'll post soon of which my photo of hydrangeas reminded you. And the book is really thought provoking.

  25. An epoch nearly forgotten, brought back to light. Thousand thanks.

  26. Wow, Celeste, your images are breathtaking, as usual. I always feel as though I am with you when you take us onthese journeys. Thank you for sharing in your wonderful life. Nuno's home and property are gorgeous! Those horses are magnificent! I adore horses. They are such gentle creatures.
    The picnics look like photos from a magazine. How nice to have such a special place on earth.

  27. Ahh, Celeste, you live a wonderful life. Beautiful pictures, delicious foods, interesting friends. I too believe that horses are a superior animal, there is something quite majestic about them. And those Portugese tarts make a yummy treat.

  28. I am speechless. What an incredibly beauitful place. Like something out of a book or magazine. A beautiful dream interlude. The food and table settings were just perfect. Your pictures shared a unique story. Thank you.

    Loved the horses. The are a superior breed, for sure.

  29. Breath taking photos and such beauty, not to mention the food ; )

    Makes our daily lives here look way behind the times.

    I've always thought others around the world know better how to live and enjoy life than we do here in the usa.

  30. How would anyone ever leave this place? I would kick and scream. I only see such images in books, which I suppose are put together by real people, but here you are. I hope your memories in Portugal will get you through into a satisfying peace back in Madrid.

  31. Oh the kitchen is my dream kitchen! Glad you were able to relax before the move. LOvely interesting post, thank you, Celeste.

  32. Wonderful story about romance ! It cuold be a movie . This place is gorgeous and wild

  33. Hola Celeste, espero que tu casa de Madrid no te estè dando mucho trabajo para que te hagas un tiempito y vuelvas a publicar algo bello e interesante.
    María Cecilia

  34. Marvelous photographs! Especially the one with Maxi, and the kitchen and the horses!

    Welcome back. You seem to have truly enjoyed yourself. So glad.

    Thanks for your comments. As to your question re the U.S. on Israel - I suppose our politicos must tread carefully, but I do become exasperated myself on that score. The Israelis seem to have forgotten much since their own beginning.

  35. Like scenes from a beautiful film, a countryside in a favorite dream. That this is real life seems almost unbelievable. What luck.

  36. I'm so happy that your vacation ended in such a fashion - romance, beautiful scenery, gorgeous horses, fantastic food. Wonderful!

    I'm looking forward to your posts from Madrid. Your words and photos inspire me.

  37. Hi Celeste:)


    This is a wonderful tour you gave me with amazing photos. This is a very beautiful place. Every photo you posted is a visual treat. I am aware of some Portuguese dishes such as pork vindaloo , bebinca etc. since I worked in Goa which was under the rule of the Portuguese. The dishes are very delicious.

    The house looked like it was taken from a fairy tale book. Stunning location. The horses were magnificent and would cost a fortune to buy and maintain. This friend of yours no doubt is a very wealthy man. I don’t think any one will get such a fantastic hospitality even in a 5 star hotel. I would call this a dream vacation which very few lucky people can enjoy.

    The soup itself looked like a full meal with all the nourishment that a person will need. I liked the chicken preparation also. It must have tasted excellent.

    To me it looked like you have visited heaven on earth and showed me a glimpse of what heaven would look like.

    Does Nuno have children? Who will take over this gorgeous place after him?

    Your narration is wonderful and your presentation is top class. The photos are magnificent, alluring and stunning.

    I was happy to read that you have shifted from Portugal to Madrid. You have moved from one wonderful place to another enchanting place. Marvelous.

    I hope you will soon settle down in Madrid comfortably and eagerly look forward to your magnificent, stylish posts.

    Your friend,

  38. What magnificent pictures Celeste of the farm, the grapes, the horses, the food well all the pictures are above average. Your stay with your friends looks and sounds like it was above average too. Thanks for sharing all this with us. Also thank you for visiting my blog. You inquired about my knee – it will not get better. I had an injury at work years ago and the company doctor only told me to place ice on the knee and take VIOXX, a medicine which was recalled later. One year later they told me they could not treat me anymore and it must be all in my head anyway. Then I found out that the meniscus cartilage has a crack in it and should have been operated at the time but was not. So, I can’t walk too far or too fast or run. Don’t get sick or have an injury in the US…

  39. What a fantastic setting for a novel! Is this place real???

  40. How wonderful! I'm amazed you were able to tear yourselves away after only four days. Beautiful photos wonderfully scripted as usual.

  41. What an amazing vacation you had! Your photos are glorious. Especially all of those delicious foodie shots! You certainly ate very well. A magical looking place. Thank you so much for sharing your adventure with us :)

  42. Hi Maia
    Another post to stir my imagination and sense of delight. My favorites are the woman opening the wooden gate, Guida's kitchen, and all of the food photos. Please send me a piece of the flan. How impossible it is to recreate the homey greatness of a European kitchen. The thick walls, the worn wooden surfaces, the history of so thousands of meals prepared there.

    Finally -- thanks for your insight about "sure lines" on my last post. You saw it, but I really hadn't. Happiness.

  43. I am always happy to hear from you. I may not be as interesting as the many lives you touch are but I am down to earth and content with my simple life. You need not worry about repeated comments on my blog. I noticed it happening in several other blogs.

  44. Celeste, obrigada pelo teu amável comentário.
    Realmente esta Quinta é esplendorosa...! os pratos são de "fazer crescer água na boca".....
    as vinhas são magnificas, adivinho que o vinho deve ser "nectar dos Deuses"... bem amiga, assim vale a pena passar uns dias de Verão e ainda por cima em óptima companhia.
    Ainda bem que passaste um final de férias tão bem! Hoje fui ao Museu do Oriente ver a exposição de fotografia dum amigo meu- Ricardo França - sobre o Vietnam, também ele é apaixonado pelo Oriente, - adorei!
    Beijinho, HELENA

    Thank you for your nice words on my blog - this "Quinta no Alentejo" is magnificent! Lovely outdoors, with grapes, horses,healthy food, beautiful countryside....and in a good company, the perfect scenario for a Summer vacation! Saudades, HELENA!

  46. Celeste,

    This is a lovely post, and the photos are just dreamlike... especially the one with the lady looking out the window. It looks like a Hopper painting. I'm glad we've been introduced through Ruth's blog... you have a beautiful site here.

  47. oh, my!
    richer than any movie.
    as beautiful as a dream.

    your photographs and accounts
    demonstrate how to live life.

    wonderful. wonderful!

  48. Just a simple thank you for your encouraging remarks yesterday. I really needed a boost. I was so close to deleting my blog and just not ever writing again. Better today, Thanks again.

  49. Oh. My. Goodness! What a beautiful blog! I am totally smitten -- first of all by that gorgeous painting then by your beautiful photographs. I so much enjoyed the visit to Nuno's ranch, the conversation at the dinner table, the enticing food -- and then suddenly I was in Patagonia -- more wonders!

    Thank you for visiting my blog and introducing yourself! I feel like I have a new and fascinating friend. And I'll be back!

  50. Some really lovely and great shots !! Thanks for sharing..Unseen Rajasthan

  51. I just discovered your fabulous blog coming from Vicky Lane. Your life sounds as colourful as mine. I was born in Chile, spent my childhood in Algeria and Brazil and parts of my college years in New York, Rabat, Khartoum and Havanna. I am a graphic designer, aromatherapist and book author. And I love blogging of course as it reminds me of all the fabulous travels around the world. Having lived in Southwest Ireland for the last ten years I am happy as can be on our 'fazenda' if it wasn't for the extremely slow internet connection (so I couldn't see all of your lovely photographs). Cheers from the Emerald Isle Eliane

  52. lovely captures....the foodstuff was simply mouthwatering!

  53. I live in Alentejo half of the week and it is indeed a beautiful region. With great wines and food. The menu you posted looked delicious.

  54. I adore looking at tablesettings (and table linens) and all the objects of domestic life but the horse pictures!!!!! I could stare at those all the live long day. I am crazy for horses and this was an absolute delight to see the Lusitanians. And another favorite picture out of this batch? Your dog Maxi loping down the driveway. (Love horses, love dogs.)

    I had a look at your web site and paged through every one of the paintings in your catalog. I think the painting titles and little "stories" you've included with each makes the whole package even that much more enjoyable...and "visual." And, I will look for the book about the card-playing dog (though I have no grandchildren yet- good thing - both kids still at university!)

  55. Truly a feast for the soul. Photos and details. Wow.

  56. Celeste dear -

    I feel as if you created this divine fairy tale just for me! Each word and image took me to a much needed retreat from the harsh world.

    Many thanks for your kind and thoughtful notes .. . know that your presence has been so appreciated. I've returned to my small garden with my giant white dog to regroup and just appreciate each moment.

    Hugs to you -


  57. Great looking food! Special invitation to leukemia bloggers. This month’s Book Club selection at is by leukemia and transplant survivor, Evan Handler. Handler is a noted Broadway and television actor best known as Charlotte’s boyfriend/husband in Sex and the City. He has also appeared in Lost, The West Wing, and Studio 60. This funny and poignant book covers his diagnosis with AML, his remission, relapse, and treatment with bone marrow transplant at John Hopkins and Memorial Sloan-Kettering. You can order a new or used copy of the book from my site. Discussion began today and will continue for the next three Mondays in September.
    Take care, Dennis

  58. Ah mi amor I was just about to spout my envy when realizing I could have all of this anytime I ask. Especially the orange flan lol? You bring us such reminders of the incredible beauty of people against nature's magical surroundings. Obrigado :-))

  59. Olá Celeste, muito obrigada por visitar o meu blog. Eu vivi cinco anos em Curitiba (1967-1972) quando fui para o Primário. Bem mais tarde meu pai se caseu com uma brasileira e assim volto de vez em quando, como no janeiro passado. Mas nao é sufficiente para melhorar meu portugues! Abracos irlandeses da Eliane

  60. Sounds like a beautiful trip, and the pictures are gorgeous. Hope you are fine back in Spain!

  61. Is this life or a dream?
    Many of your photographs have a misty quality . . . as if they came out of a fairy tale. The food looks so beautifully earthy, though. (I would love to have a custard tart right now.)

    Even the maid looks like a princess!

  62. This is an excellent post. You carry us off in an almost bygone land like in the novels from the 19th century, enriched by a romantic love story between these two apparently incompatible characters...

  63. Returned to revisit this particular post with the fabulous Alentejo visit. Indeed it was a perfect time, a perfect moment in time, where all came together to create the miracle you enjoyed. What a great gift the Universe provided, and how great that you were so receptive! Thank you for sharing with us all!!!
    This Nuno is a wonderful man!
    Someone commented he must be very wealthy.
    What is really important is that he knows how to enjoy life and the good things and has a great sensibility for beauty!
    The house, the horses, the food and mostly the friends show him to be a true connoisseur!
    And how well you share it all with us, through your words and photos, we are there with you!
    May all who were there be aware of the special moments you shared.
    May Nuno and Jeanne enjoy each other and keep sharing!
    With all my love,
    Isabel (from DC)

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