20 Jul 2017 2859
Sandra Nobre {Journalist} www.shortstories.pt
#gastronomie #tradition

A sweet trail around the fringes of Lisbon

Gone are the days when Portuguese confectionery was made in convents, according to ancient recipes, with lots of eggs and even more sugar, playing havoc with diets and making it a sin to dare eat fruit. But against all odds, this centuries-old heritage of traditional confections has survived intact to the present in many holy places, which have seen a rise in ‘pilgrimages’ to come and taste them. Other recipes have acquired a reputation without anyone being sure of their origin, and are now on everyone’s lips. What they have in common is how they are made, which shall remain a secret of the gods and is the soul of the business. All can be accompanied with a glass of ginginha (cherry liqueur), moscatel or port wine. As the Portuguese saying goes, ‘you forgive the harm it does because it tastes so good’. Here are ten sensory experiences from Lisbon and the surrounding area.

Pastéis de Belém

Lisbon’s most famous pastries have been manufactured since 1837. Unique in flavour, which distinguishes them from traditional custard tarts, the recipe was patented and made a ‘workshop secret’. Only the master confectioners know it and are bound by contract not to reveal it. The delicacy, began by the monks from the Jerónimos Monastery, who started to sell them after the abolition of religious orders in 1834, has survived to this day. The recipe was purchased by a Portuguese businessman and remains in the family, which follows it religiously just like the originals. Expect a queue at any time of day, but it's worth the wait and don't try and fight it, one pastel is never enough . .. Add powdered sugar and cinnamon to taste.

Rua de Belém, 84-92, Lisboa
Open every day
Tel. (+351) 213 637 423

The Trouxas da Malveira factory

Just half an hour by car from Lisbon and you arrive in a landscape dotted with windmills. Here you will encounter flavours rescued from the Convent of Odivelas by four women entrepreneurs of the time. It was in 1906 that the business was started on a different premises, although the trouxas - filled sponge cake rolls – only appeared later, in tribute to the local washerwomen. No one could resist them and today it is still difficult; freshly made, they sell by the hundreds daily. The café with its own in-house bakery has recently been refurbished and has a pleasant terrace.

Rua Miguel Ferreira, 40, Malveira, Mafra
Closed Friday, except Public Holidays
Tel. (+351) 219 862 672


Vila Nogueira de Azeitão is half an hour from the capital, at the foot of the Arrábida hills, and is worth the drive. One option is the tortas of Azeitão which, so the story goes, originated here in 1901. Maria Albina had a gift for confectionery and made a living from it along with her husband, Manuel Rodrigues, a water carrier. He was blind (cego), which is how the establishment got its name. The business changed hands over 40 years ago, but José Pinto remains faithful to the handmade tradition. But there are more delicacies to be tasted here, including esses, mimos and the local ice-cream. And we mustn’t forget the Moscatel, a one-hundred-year-old fortified wine which is the calling card of the Setúbal Peninsula wine region.

Rua José Augusto Coelho, 150, Vila Nogueira de Azeitão, Setúbal
Closed Tuesdays
Tel. (+351) 212 180 301

Casa dos Fofos de Belas

After the first bite, you understand the name. These cakes couldn’t be fluffier (fofos). Then you taste the crème fraîche, and the sugar makes them even more appetizing. The recipe is home-made, and the fact that they are baked in a wood-fired oven, as they always have been, makes them even more special. The establishment is open since 1850 and has been handed down from generation to generation, the guardian of tradition in the municipality of Sintra.

Rua Dr. Malheiros, 18, Belas, Sintra
Open seven days a week
Tel. (+351) 214 310 254



In 2016, the sour cherry (ginja) of Óbidos became a certified product with Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) and Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) by the European Union. This has ensured that its characteristics, quality and preparation are carried out according to the method and tradition which brought it recognition in the region and protects the use of the trademark. In Óbidos, no other drink can match this liqueur, made from the fruit of the sour cherry. Oppidum is a small company that has made the family tradition into a business without losing its identity. It is based in the village of Sobral da Lagoa, 4 km from Óbidos. Its fruit output is prolific, and visitors are shown the various stages of production, culminating in a tasting. Be bold and try a ginja with chocolate.

Rua da Escola, 2, Sobral da Lagoa, Óbidos
Appointment necessary
Tel. (+351) 262 969 109

Queijadas da Sapa

‘Basílio carried a small parcel of Sapa cheesecakes in the pocket of his robe’, it reads in Aventuras de Basílio Fernandes Enxertado (1863), a novel by Camilo Castelo Branco. The literary reference pays homage to the oldest of the five officially recognised brands of Sintra's cheesecakes, located in the town centre since the opening of the railway in 1887. The business began at the gates of the town, in Ranholas, in 1756, and since then the recipe has remained true to the original: sugar, cheese, wheat flour, eggs and cinnamon. It contains gluten, dairy and eggs and also has its secret, but this is closely guarded by those in the know. The presentation may be discreet, but it is no accident that they are sold in packs of six . ..

Volta do Duche 12, Sintra
Closed Mondays
Tel. (+351) 219 230 493

Moscatel de Setúbal Experience

On a terrace with seating and eating areas, with benches, deck chairs and tables providing an informal setting, is a kiosk dedicated to the fortified wine of the region South of the Tagus River. Here you can taste a variety of moscatels from Setúbal producers, including the roxo version. This fortified wine is characterised by its special aroma and flavours produced by its grapes, in particular of the Moscatel de Setúbal varietal which is considered the most aromatic. Gold in colour, ranging from clear topaz to amber, with an exotic floral aroma and hints of orange blossom and lime, sometimes roses, there are touches of honey, citrus, lychee, pear and date in the young wines and more complex, subtle aromas with notes of dried fruits such as hazelnuts, almonds and walnuts in the older ones. A confection in liquid form.

Praça do Bocage, 49, Setúbal
Open seven days a week

Pastelaria Faruque

Open since 1976, this is a no frills shop which doesn’t look very inviting on the outside either, but don't judge the place by its appearance. With its own bakery, the croissants alone justify a visit. But what you shouldn’t miss is the white quince jam from Odivelas, which is produced from a recipe by the former Bernardine Sisters of Odivelas Monastery right next door. Since 1900, this has been the headquarters of the reputable institution of women’s education run by the army, which closed in 2015. The recipes survived in the notebook of the last nun, who died in 1909, and were then published in book form. This delicacy is distinguished from traditional quince jam by its colour which is almost white, and is served in small squares as if it were a cake.

Rua Guilherme Gomes Fernandes, 87A , Odivelas
Closed on Mondays
Tel. (+351) 219 311 574 

Solar do Vinho do Porto

The Palace of Ludovice, home to the Port and Douro Wines Institute (IVDP), dating from the 18th century, is located in the Bairro Alto, in the heart of Lisbon, and holds a unique collection of port wines. The interior is elegant and comfortable, with a rich collection of illuminated, theatrical tiles. It is perfect for conversation while you taste some of the best nectars that have taken Portugal’s name beyond its frontiers. The wine experience here will meet the needs of both the curious and the real connoisseur of Douro region’s fortified wine in its various styles – ruby, tawny, white and rosé – and harvests – LBV (Late Bottled Vintage) and vintage (years of exceptional quality). There are more than 300 to choose from and a catalogue for sale.

Rua S. Pedro de Alcântara, 45
Closed on Sundays
Tel. (+351) 213 475 707


Imagine an urban oasis, in the shade of some olive and lemon trees, and embarking from there on a table-top trip between Paris, Lisbon and Funchal . .. You travel via flavours: from the city of light with its choux pastry, to the Portuguese capital with its custard tart cream and the city on the Atlantic with its traditional honey cake. Chef João Espírito Santo guarantees the quality of the menu with signature dishes by Chef Benoît Sinthon and his two Michelin stars at the Il Gallo d'Oro restaurant in Funchal. It combines perfectly with either a port, Madeira wine, a cherry liqueur or a Moscatel.

Rua Rosa Araújo, 8, Lisboa
Open seven days a week
Tel. (+351) 210 015 700

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