It requires time sorting out all the impressions affecting you when entering the Herdade da Matinha. Although, it starts harmless with a trivial drive over three kilometers of dirt road, which then all the sudden ends in a green part of the valley. Our first thought: it looks like Costa Rica, Guanacaste, dry north. Through thick reeds and over green meadow leads the small path towards the reception. The welcome was warm and the question for availability spontaneously ended in a tour round the house; starting in the main building, lumbered up with furniture, all kind of art on the wall, piles of books and magazins all over the place, simply bulging life. To state the obvious: here someone likes beautiful things and is running free, without any selective constraints. Alfredo, the owner, is an active artist, we were told, and hyperactive we were tended to add.
Unfortunately all suits in the main building were fully booked; hence, we were guided across the terrace, past the pool to the outbuilding, offering several rooms and suits at choice, all designed in light colours, remarkably discreetly furnished with little art. Instantly you feel very “Provençal” and like wishing for a glass of Rose and playing some “boules”.
Beautiful, nevertheless we would like to see the newer rooms, in another attracting multicoloured outbuilding at the other end of the areal. Thus we walked back, this time passing the reddish restaurant immediately remembered of Scandinavia: a touch of Norway was in the wind, fjord-like, smoked salmon…without any doubt! Behind the restaurant sits the new outbuilding hosting five “romantic rooms”, which come across surprisingly in-romantically, almost minimalist designed: straight lumps and bumps, particularly in the bath. We liked it and stayed.
Dinner was served in the opulently furnished restaurant. The eye-catcher was definitely the open kitchen providing a very personal and cosy atmosphere. We spent a lovely evening, experiencing quite a different “restaurant feeling” with gastronomically new and surprising flavours. The chef was cooking like a happy-go-lucky chef, whatever she had in mind or how she felt. In our case, we had savoy with blood sausage to begin with, followed by ray wings on chickpeas with plenty of cardamom and star anise. You need to like it, sure, also the rather small portions – from a Portuguese point of view. We did. And also the “normal” servings felt like a blessing after all those Portuguese XL portions.
Along with the last glass of wine, Suzanna and Alfredo, the two owners and designers of the “Herdade da Matinha”, joint. During the talk we could feel the energy pushing the two of them and their will to create something special. We believe they succeeded, totally and completely. The Herdade da Matina is definitely far off being a dime a dozen, nothing similar to typical Portuguese stuff, but rather a universal Gesamtkunstwerk, a bulging surprise bag full of visual, stylistical and culinarily stunner; get your kick out of it, provided you bring along the required openness.Herdade da Matinha
7555-231 Cercal do Alentejo,
932 944285, 933 739245