Discovering Authentic Portuguese Cuisine
Article provided by Trafalgar
Behind every memorable trip is a memorable meal, and while Portuguese food is one of Europe’s lesser-known cuisines, it is also one of the hardest to leave behind at the end of a holiday. We take a look at the local regional ingredients that have influenced Portuguese cooking, and some of the truly unique dishes to try on a trip to Portugal.
Understanding Portugal’s landscape and culture, as well as its regional ingredients and signature dishes undoubtedly gives visitors a greater understanding of the country. From the nation’s coastal capital, Lisbon, to the cliffs and coves of The Algarve, and in-land to the home of port wine and olive oil, a journey through Portugal reveals the country’s wealth of local ingredients and outstanding artisanal goods.
With over 800 kilometers of Atlantic coastline and strong Mediterranean influences, Portugal is known for its extraordinary bounty of fresh seafood and fish. Indeed, Portugal has long been a seafaring nation with a thriving fishing industry that dates back to the 15th century. Cod and sardines are in abundance, with octopus, crab, spiny lobster, oysters and clams also caught off these shores. Fish is eaten fresh, often grilled or in rich seafood stews, or dried and salted to make bacalhau.
In-land, meat and poultry are naturally more dominant, with pork and beef dishes featuring on most menus. Each area of the countryside has its own specialties, from cozido á Portuguesa (in which fresh and cured meat, potatoes, root vegetables and rice are brought together in one pot), to roasted suckling pig, slow-cooked goat, and beef marinated in red wine. Locally made olive oil is at the heart of many of these dishes, with garlic and herbs for added flavor, and fresh seasonal vegetables.
These meat, seafood and vegetable dishes are then supplemented by the produce of the country’s many skilled artisanal makers, with freshly baked bread eaten with olives grown on the land, and the country’s locally made cheeses. Many people are familiar with the Portuguese custard tart, pastéis de nata, but many other sticky, sweet pastries are just waiting to be sampled.
Of course, whether you’re digging into a hearty seafood stew, or savoring the local cheese, this food is best washed down with one of the country’s own wines, followed by a glass of Portugal’s widely celebrated fortified wine, Port.
Trafalgar guests can sample authentic Portuguese home cooking at Yeguada Monte Negro. Founded hundreds of years ago, this farm is situated near Ourique in Portugal’s Alentejo region. The farm’s owners, Tiago and Vera, breed horses, graze cattle, and grow olives and grains, as well as welcoming guests into their home to explore the historic property and visit the riding school. Traditional dishes are served up to showcase the local produce, followed by a homemade dessert such as Portuguese cake made with honey and olive oil.
While the gastronomic discovery continues with each and every destination, it’s the authenticity of this farm’s local food and picturesque setting that makes it such a memorable part of the journey.
To book your next epicurean journey, contact a AAA Travel Agent today either online or by calling 866-499-0857.