WESTPORT — Stacy Silva-Boutwell has her fingers in many pies.
To many in the SouthCoast and beyond this Westport resident is known as the Portuguese American Mom, with a blog, cookbook, and bakery and tea shop under her apron string.
Now she has some new, exciting projects cooking, one of which takes her across the Atlantic to share her gastronomic know-how with travelers through an immersive 10-day cultural and culinary experience.
Silva-Boutwell has partnered with Fall River-based travel agency Sagres Vacations to lead an intimate, hands-on tour of São Miguel, the largest island in the archipelago of the Azores, Portugal, this fall.
Taking the lead with assistance from her mother, Natalia Silva, she’ll be criss-crossing the island, from which both sides of her family hail, with the goal of offering tourists an authentic Portuguese adventure.
“I think it’s going to be fantastic,” said the longtime cook and owner of StacyCakes Tea Shoppe & Cakery in Westport.
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Silva-Boutwell will shine a spotlight on Portuguese cuisine, while her mom and a local tour guide will be on hand to talk culture and history and offer anecdotes from their own personal experiences.
“You can’t buy that. Those personal anecdotes add so much richness to a trip,” she said.
The mission with these culinary tours, Silva-Boutwell said, is to give folks who may be unfamiliar or looking to reconnect with their Portuguese roots, a taste of all the island has to offer.
“They’ll get that culinary adventure as well as the cultural aspect as well as a true luxury vacation,” while still getting the grassroots experience, she said.
The tour sets off Sept. 13, in an attempt to coincide with a feast in her mother’s native village of Povoacao. There her group can experience the nightlife of the feast — where Silva-Boutwell’s uncle, well-known Portuguese singer Marc Dennis, will perform — as well as the religious procession the next day, with streets lined in a beautiful carpet of flowers and greenery.
“I think that’s an amazing experience for people who’ve never seen it,” she said.
On that side of the island, the group will be staying in luxury at a hotel in Nordeste, and embark on a tour of Furnas — best-known for its geothermal activity, hot springs and traditional stew (cozido) slow-cooked underground in steaming holes known as fumaroles — as well as a tea plantation.
One of the highlights for Silva-Boutwell will be their welcome lunch. She’ll be hosting a picnic in the scenic Nordeste, where she’ll teach guests traditional Portuguese grilling techniques.
“It’s going to be very hands-on,” she said. “I plan to be doing some cooking but I’m going to really have people roll up their sleeves and learn .. and really get into the tradition of what it is to have a picnic, which is very important on St. Michael.”
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The next leg of the trip brings the group to Ponta Delgada, for a visit to Sete Cidades, a pineapple plantation, and a wine and food walking tour with petiscos (Portuguese for tapas or appetizers) at various restaurants. From there, the group heads to Rabo de Peixe, her father’s village, where Silva-Boutwell will lead a cooking lesson at a local restaurant, and the group will go on a sunset cruise.
When planning out the itinerary, Silva-Boutwell said her goal was for the trip to offer many “layers.”
“It’s not just, I’m going to show up and have a meal. I’ve tried to layer in different types of food experiences, from going out to have a picnic, to having your food buried at Furnas in the hot water spring and getting to feast on that, to even just a little aside, like, hey, there’s a hot water spring here. Let’s make an espresso from this hot water from the ground. This is the way that they would do this,” she said.
“It’s just a real culinary adventure through St. Michael,” Silva-Boutwell said. “It’s something different that really hasn’t been done before.”
In an effort to make the trip a more personal experience, spots are limited to 14 to 18 people, she said.
“I made sure it’s a very small group.. I wanted it to be personal and I want everyone who takes the tour to not feel like they’re on a tour,” Silva-Boutwell said. “I want them to feel like they are experiencing Portugal the way it was meant to be experienced — in the family setting, in a small group setting.”
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And while the itinerary is expansive, Silva-Boutwell said she made sure to offer travelers some flexibility and breathing room, with shopping days and downtime factored in.
“I didn’t want to get stretched thin. I wanted to be able to give people personal attention if they want it,” she said. “I’m not about overpacking a trip. I want people to go at their own pace.”
Several people have already approached Silva-Boutwell about the trip, including a customer from Tennessee who stays the summer in Westport, so she expects a good response. “I’m really looking forward to it,” she said.
For the full 10-day itinerary and more information about the tour, visit https://travefy.com/trip/6yw9rqeegx3sqz2a7wu9yhtxexrwyqq.
When she’s not planning global excursions, Silva-Boutwell has been busy back home launching her latest delicious endeavor — this time no passport required.
The Portuguese American Mom has gone from blogger to vlogger, with her own YouTube channel, https://www.youtube.com/@thePAmom.
It debuted just before Thanksgiving with a video on how to make Portuguese Stuffing — with one commenter referring to Silva-Boutwell as a “lifesaver” — and have been “trickling out since until we really get rolling.”
She’s also featured her recipes for French French Toast, chourico and peppers, and coming up is one for Portuguese rice pudding.
Portuguese American Mom is a lifestyle blog that launched in 2015, but a majority of its focus is cooking — Portuguese cooking, American cooking or a hybrid of the two — breaking recipes down to step by step instructions and “no-way-someone-could-get-the-recipe-wrong tutorials.”
Silva-Boutwell was always getting asked for various recipes, so she decided to find a venue — the blog — to put it out there, which is also how the YouTube channel recently got started.
Now, with the assistance of a professional filmmaker, she shoots videos from her StacyCakes shop to post to YouTube as well as the Portuguese American Mom website.
With video becoming more and more prevalent, she said she knew in order to stay current and relevant that the YouTube channel would be the natural next step.
In addition to sharing recipes, Silva-Boutwell said she also plans to do videos aimed at helping folks to navigate the kitchen, with a focus on meal planning and showing people how to make three different meals out of one ingredient.
For example, with a large pork loin she picks up at BJs, Silva-Boutwell will turn a portion of it into cacoila (Portuguese pulled pork), part of it might make a Greek stuffed roast and the rest might make a pork chop meal.
“Right now the price of groceries is such that anything that can help people save and stretch that grocery budget is very important, so I plan on bringing some of those things in,” she said.
According to Silva-Boutwell, she’s built quite a following over the years and she hopes to continue to build on that with her latest ventures.