A Pinch of Portugal

Hallmark Pulls a Fast One

I was not looking forward to this one despite its setting in Portugal which, unlike France and Italy has never been used as a backdrop for a Hallmark movie. I think I saw Heather Hemmens in something or other and she was fine. The previews seemed to set up the usual scenario of the beautiful, competent but underestimated heroine meeting the native hunk who shows her the sights while they commence falling for each other.

Heather plays Anna, a prep cook for a world-famous and difficult celebrity chef. They travel the world along with their little crew: the producer, the editor, and the cameraman. But this time, Dean, the Chef, is in contract negotiations so the support staff is sent on ahead to start shooting what they can without him. The second I saw the cameraman who was a dead ringer for Chris Hemsworth (Thor) I thought, “Too bad he’s not the hero”. I like him! Further cementing my approval, he opened his mouth, and out popped an Australian accent! I was kind of smitten despite his blondness. But it is made pretty clear early on that they are just best buddies. And we still had the designated dark-haired handsome hero on the horizon. They have a meet-cute at his farmer’s market and while they sniff and rhapsodize over all of the vegetables, they have lengthy conversations and flirt like mad. Our hero was very smiley. We learn his dream is to own his own restaurant. A girl who dreams of settling down and doing things her own way as a Chef and a guy that wants to open his own restaurant? Yep.  A perfect match. But things started to take a turn at the 41-minute mark. Did I just imagine that smoldering look? It seemed to come out of nowhere. I could scarcely believe it. While the volatile star chef continues to not show up, things started to get interesting. I was actually in doubt as to who was supposed to be the love interest until the 1 hour and 17-minute mark. Hallmark really pulled a fast one, and I heartily approve!

Besides the scenery and the yummy-looking food, there were some other really nice touches in this one.

  • Anna’s supportive mother.
  • Anna’s journey from an awkward fill-in to finally finding her niche and making the job her own was well done and believable. Heather Hemmens was really good, especially in the cooking while seasick scene.
  • Brooklyn, the cute editor, started out as a nothing character but turned out to be a real dark horse. She has one of the funniest lines in the movie. When Anna is taking out her anger on the vegetables she is chopping, She stops her, “You should really use your words. Violence is not the answer.”
  • Some surprises and twists: the sudden reappearance of the evil Chef who behaves like a real jerk. And the hidden agenda of another character that I for one did not see coming.
  • The happy rehabilitation of the bad guy was a surprise but was well-founded and understandable. I liked the way it was done.
  • There is a crisis at the end, but it was not a big misunderstanding between the couple. The romance was nuanced and drama free, but totally involving. My breath was bated.

Hallmark showed some sophistication with the script and casting, and the actors did not disappoint. Of course, Portugal did not hurt either.  There was not a silly minute in it (except possibly the weird moment when Anna grabbed Thor’s delicious-looking ice cream cone and threw it in the garbage.) And last but not least, Anna wore sensible shoes throughout and not only in the traipsing about Lisbon montage.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

3 thoughts on “A Pinch of Portugal

  1. Agreed that the throwing out of the ice cream was crazy, not to mention, eating an ice cream cone with a spoon is ridiculous to start.
    I thought until the very last minute that this was going to be the first Hallmark where the two leads stay friends and don’t become an item, until he invited her for port, or brandy, or whatever.
    The lead actor was totally hot, definitely a Chris Hemsworth look-alike, and I haven’t been too keen on the lead actors lately, so it was a nice change.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I Really did like the romance in this one, not the least reason because of the appeal of “Thor.” But also because the constantly grinning Lucas did not appeal to me whatsoever and I was initially sure Hallmark would follow the usual template by making him the love interest. I was very intrigued when I started to see that this just might not be the case, and was delighted with the twist making him a sleazeball.
      The ice cream cone incident was so weird. Why didn’t they just put it in a cup so they could just set it down?


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