Portugal...An experience for the senses!
Portugal is a country filled with beauty in the natural sense, beauty in the arts, and beauty in it's food and culture. My husband and I visited Portugal in the Summer of 2019. The main goal of this trip was to visit the tiny village of Mougadouro da Serra (population probably 50) which are the origins of my husbands family. As we explored Portugal, we fell in love with the country, the people, and the culture which has greatly our lives. A trip to remember!
Our adventure took us to Evora, Sintra, Nazaré, Douro Valley, Serra da Estrela, Porto, and Guarda. Starting in the south of Portugal and working our way across and up the coast finally ending in the tiny village of Mougadouro. The locals of the villages and cities were so welcoming, offering insights to where to eat and what to see. We did have an advantage as we both speak the language, but the country enjoys offering their best to tourists. No matter where you turned there was something beautiful; a field of flowers, an old church, a statue in the middle of nowhere, a perfectly organized vineyard, castles, a restaurant filled with tantalizing smells and carefree locals. Our senses where heightened and our hearts were full.
Since I love to cook and own an Empanada business, some of my favorite parts of the trip were the food experiences. The fish was so fresh and I loved the salted cod (bacalhau) cooked in many unique ways. I had it grilled, baked with olives, onions, and capers, and baked in a cream sauce with potatoes. Let's not forget the famous bacalhau balls! You can get many of these delicious foods in Newark, NJ where they have a huge Portuguese community especially along Ferry Street. The custard cups called "Pastéis de Nata" are one of my preferred sweet treats and I couldn't get enough of them. The wines of the Douro Valley were exceptional, specifically the Port. I tried the Rosé Port and had to bring some home. It's sweet with notes of cherry, strawberry, and caramel and pares perfectly with cheeses, fruits, and desserts. Below is a link to learn more about the wines of the Douro Valley in Portugal.
Let's talk cheese! The cheeses from each region of Portugal had unique flavors and textures. In Sintra we enjoyed the soft Azeitão cheese which was served warm mixed with figs and ham and eaten with bread; this was an "oh my goodness" taste experience! In Mougadouro we ate Serra da Estrela cheese made from raw sheeps milk and thistle flower which is buttery and delicious. The Rabaçal cheese has a mix of goat and sheeps milk with herbs which gives it unique flavor quality. I've added a website to learn more about Portuguese cheeses, also you can get some of these cheeses in Newark, NJ.
If you have the opportunity to enjoy a trip to Portugal be prepared to be brought back in time and taken into a world of sensorial experiences. In the meantime, visit Ferry Street in Newark, NJ, to taste and experience some beautiful Portuguese culture and amazing flavors.
Até logo..See you soon!