CAKES AND PASTRIES:
Pastries and cakes are popular all over the country with some pastelarias (pastry shops) proudly advertising that they bake their own (fabrico próprio). The Moors and later the Christian convents and monasteries have been an influential source for many recipes. Marzipan cakes filled with egg yolk are similar to sweets served in North Africa and the Middle East. From the convents come the barriga de freira (nun’s tummy) a sweet made with bread, egg yolk and sugar, and toucinho do ceu (bacon from heaven) a cake made with ground almonds, sugar, flour and eggs. The popular pastel de nata (custard tart) is found in any café. The most famous and best is produced at the Fábrica de Pasteis de Belém, in Lisbon. All regions seem to have their own pastry or cake. Sintra is famous for its queijadas de Sintra (cheese tarts), and travesseiros – rolled pastry filled with sweet egg yolk and dusted with sugar. Mafra produces the fradinho (small monk) ground white beans, sugary egg yolk in a pastry case. Cascais produces areias de Cascais (‘sands of Cascais’) shortbread biscuits and the nozes de Cascais – half walnuts covered in caramel.
Chouriços are smoked sausages with various fillings and seasonings. A part of Portuguese cuisine they are normally included in some traditional main dishes. Presunto (cured ham) is served with melon as a starter. Chouriços are sold in supermarkets.
Portuguese cheese is produced by traditional methods in various regions of the country. The most famous is the Serra, made in the Serra da Estrela region using only ewe’s milk. It can be creamy or seasoned and it is much sought after. Fresh goat’s cheese, ‘queijo saloio‘ is a type of cottage cheese and served often in restaurants as a starter. It is best with salt and pepper. It is produced in Lisbon and surrounding areas, mainly Loures. Azeitão, near Setúbal, produces a cheese with a thin yellowish cover using ewe’s milk and has a slight acid taste. The São Jorge or Ilha as it is also known comes from the Azores, the Island of S. Jorge. Using cow’s milk it is the nearest to English cheddar. Serpa, a strong and sharp tasting cheese comes from the Alentejo. Évora produces a cheese from ewe’s milk or mixed with goat milk and tastes rough with a slight spicy taste. Varieties of cheeses are sold in the delicatessen sections of larger supermarkets.
WINES & LIQUEURS:
Portugal produces very good wines with a range of prices. There are reds, whites and young wines (vinho verde) produced in nearly every region, from the Algarve in the South to the Douro in the North. Porto of course is widely known for producing great port wines, both red and white. Some of the Portuguese liqueurs produced here are the Triple Sec which tastes of orange, Amendoa Amarga an almond taste, Brandy mel a mixture of brandy and honey, and moscatel from Sétubal. You can ask for a glass in local bars. Supermarkets sell a wide range of wines. House wine that restaurants serve is usually good quality at reasonable prices.
COFFEE & TEA:
COFFEE drinking in Portugal is a serious affair. Meeting friends in a café for a bica and a chat or taking a quick break from the office is a way of life. Coffee or café is the basic beverage – in Lisboa it is called the bica, a strong coffee served in a small cup and often the fainthearted accompany it with a glass of water. A double is a café-duplo. A bica cheia is a coffee filled to the top of the small cup. An italiana is made with the same amount of coffee as a regular one but with half as much water. A carioca is a normal café topped up with hot water. A garoto is a café topped up with milk. A bica com uma pinga is a coffee with a drop or two of brandy. A descafeinado, served in most restaurants and cafés is instant decaffeinated coffee in a small cup. Café com leite is a coffee with milk. The galão is a tall glass of hot milk with a little coffee added in it. The stronger version of the galão is either bem escuro (dark) or a galão de máquina – a regular coffee made on the spot and tastes stronger. A meia de leite de máquina is a coffee with milk half-filled with fresh strong coffee and half with hot milk. Tea is Chá. Chá com limão is black tea served with a slice of lemon, not to be confused with the chá de limão – also known as a carioca de limão – hot water with lemon rind – a refreshing drink.
A visit to Portugal would not be complete without tasting the very good wines we produce and if you have an opportunity why not visit the wine producers in neighbouring areas? Some of them cater for groups as well as individuals for lunches as well as tastings. Ideal for visits with a group of friends. If you would like to visit any of these producers you must book in advance and to enquire on availability, prices and times of visits.
Quinta do Sanguinhal, Bombarral. Tel: (351) 262609190 Teil: info@vinhos-sanguinhal.PT
Quinta de Sant’Ana, Gradil, Mafra. Tel: 351-261963550. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org website: www.quintadesantana.com
Adega Regional de Colares CRL, Colares, near Sintra: Tel: 219291210. Email: email@example.com
Adega Beira Mar. Av.Luis Augusto Colares, 70, Azenhas do Mar. Tel: 351-9292036. Famous for the Chitas wine which is exported all over the world. They do not hold tasting for large groups but it is possible for individuals to visit, taste and purchase their wines.
For a good selection of wines visit the JOANINHA WINE SHOP in Cascais at Rua Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo, 17. Their website www.joaninhawineshop.com has a list of some of their wines with prices.