Several factors in this region have contributed to the discovery of fantastic recipes of exceptional quality: many cultural and landscape contrasts and the skill and resourcefulness of those in charge of preparing food.
Chanfana (goat meat cooked in red wine), roasted in an earthenware pot in a wood-burning oven, is one of the most famous dishes in the municipalities of Arganil, Condeixa-a-Nova, Góis, Lousã, Miranda do Corvo and Vila Nova de Poiares. It is so important that even two brotherhoods were created in its honour: the Royal Brotherhood of the Old Goat and the Brotherhood of Chanfana, in the municipality of Miranda do Corvo and Vila Nova de Poiares.
In Arganil, try the following specialties: Tibornada (goat meat cooked with roasted potatoes drizzled with olive oil), stuffed pork belly Folques style and the stuffed pork belly of Vila Cova de Alva. In Góis, try the chestnut soup, goat cheese, pork rinds and kid roasted in a wood-burning oven – this latter dish is also typical in Condeixa-a-Nova. Chestnuts and water-soaked bread mixtures go well with delicious dishes: kid, Tibornada and Sardinhas Albardadas com Papas Laberças (sardines with a cabbage mix) – in Ansião, these sardines are also quite popular. The Sopas de Casamento (rich in fats and juice meat, made from the Chanfana gravy) and Negalhos (tripe cooked as in Chanfana) are most popular in the municipality of Miranda do Corvo. In Vila Nova de Poiares, besides Chanfana, the Arroz de Bucho (pork belly rice) and Negalhos are a delight to everyone. As for the desserts, the variety is huge: Várzea cake, sweet rice pudding, Tigelada (oven-baked custard), pumpkin fritters, honey fritters, Sequilhos (biscuits), Farta-Rapazes (muffins), Poiaritos (crispy pastry with soft egg, dates, honey and bread filling), Serranitos (honey pastries), Talasnicos (chestnut, honey, almod, egg and cinnamon pastry) and Beirões (liquor, honey and chestnut pastry), among others!
If you like to venture into unique dishes, make sure you try the lamprey rice, which is even honoured in the Gastronomy Festival in Penacova a Montemor-o-Velho.
Whatever you choose, in Tábua you will certainly be in for a huge surprise: roast kid, pork belly Tábua style, smoked meats and sausages or Estrela Mountain cheese from the municipality of Oliveira do Hospital.
In Coimbra, gastronomy revolves especially around sweets, a century-old tradition largely due to the influence of important convents in the region: Pastéis de Santa Clara, Arrufadas de Coimbra, Barrigas de Freira, Manjar Branco, Queijadas de Coimbra, Talhadas de Príncipe (mostly made with egg and sugary fillings), among others. In Lorvão Convent, in Penacova, the nuns made delicious egg and sweet treats that will help you finish a great meal perfectly: Pastéis de Lorvão, Nevadas, Lampreia de Ovos, Alfinetes, Bolo Podre de Lorvão, Papos de Anjos, among many others. In Montemor-o-Velho, you can sin too while you taste these heavenly sweets: Pastéis de Tentúgal, Queijadas de Pereira, Barrigas de Freira, Espigas Doces, Papos de Anjo, Pinhas, and many others made with rice, which is a typical product from Baixo Mondego.
While you’re in Alvaiázere, be sure to ask for the Chícharo, a type of chickpea that can be used in soups and in main dishes. This legume is the star of a gastronomy festival held every year in October!
Some of the delicacies you can taste in Castanheira de Pera include kid, marinated trouts and Sarrabulho – a stew made of curdled pig’s blood. In Figueiró dos Vinhos, visitors can enjoy river fish such as trout, largemouth bass, carp, perch and boga. As for meat dishes, the following are a must: Rancho (stew), roast kid and lamb. The sponge cake is also divine!
Pampilhosa da Serra is known for its peculiar cuisine: Botelha soup (pumpkin soup), Tiborna, pork belly and roast kid. As for sweets, no table should go without these: sweet rice pudding, honey cake, olive oil cake and Tigelada (oven-baked custard)! The Sarrabulho rice stew and pork rinds are a favourite in Pedrógão Grande.
The traditional Arte Xávega in the municipalities of Cantanhede and Mira is responsible for bringing in the freshest fish in the region: sea bass, sardines roasted on a roof tile, and fish stews. For dessert, try the Ançã cake and the Mira Easter cake. In Figueira da Foz, you should try the fish soup, prawns, small fried sardines, sardine rice and skate ray in pitau sauce (with garlic and skate ray liver). Confectionery is also quite famous: the Brisas da Figueira are muffins filled with egg yolk, sugar and almond flour.Whichever you choose, you won’t regret it!
When visiting Mortágua, try the famous Lampantana (made with sheep meat), which has long been one of the specialties of this municipality. At Easter, don’t forget the famous Bolo de Cornos, a salty flour, egg and olive oil pastry backed on cabbage leaves!
End your meal in style: try the local honey from Lousã Mountain – Protected Designation of Origin, and toast with a glass of Licor Beirão or Arbutus Brandy and Honey Brandy, produced in some municipalities of this region.
Don’t forget to order the white or red Bairrada wines to accompany your meals!