Across central Portugal, while the green forests and historical and archaeological heritage provide good enough material for excellent itineraries so do the strong, local gastronomic traditions make for a flavour packed reason to visit.
Start on a highpoint in Centro de Portugal cooking: Bairrada suckling pig accompanied by a regional sparkling wine.
The coastline provides fresh shellfish and fish, often served up as ‘caldeirada’ stews and the bread based ‘ensopado’. Such dishes are also prepared with freshwater fish from the region’s many rivers and lakes, all well accompanied by a glass or two of Bairrada white wine.
Up in the hills, the reds from the Dão suit the goat recipes, such as ‘chanfana’, cooked in red wine, or roasted as ‘cabrito assado’ that, like veal, is served in Lafões according to special, local recipes.
Smoked meats common to inland regions include ‘maranhos’, the rice based black pudding ‘morcelas de arroz,’ among many others. Each has their own distinctive taste usually rendered by a particular combination of herbs and spices.
There are certified producers of the famous Serra da Estrela, Castelo Branco, Alcains and Rabaçal cheeses. Soft or cured, they are all excellent.
Of the sweets, we would suggest the eggy sweet ‘ovos moles de Aveiro’ and ‘pão-de-ló de Ovar’ sponge cake. Both are certain crowd pleasers.