– seafood and so much more
Given its close proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, seafood ranks highly in the local cuisine of the Silver Coast. But it is not all about fish – the countryside has its own rich tradition of hearty cooking and fine delicacies.
Peniche is the centre of the fishing industry in the Silver Coast. Fresh fish, notably sea bream and sea bass, are offloaded from the boats daily and available for sale within hours at restaurants and shops throughout the region. Just to the north is the stunning Óbidos lagoon at Foz do Arelho which has a wealth of eels, cockles, small sea bass, grey mullets, crabs, cuttle-fish and mussels. And on the other side of Peniche, near Lourinhã, is Porto de Barcas, site of the biggest shellfish farm in the country and a great place to enjoy this delicacy at its freshest with a glass of local white wine and the Atlantic Ocean as a backdrop.
The freshest ingredients
Not surprisingly the Caldeirada De Peixe (fish stew) is found on many local menus and is highly sought after for the freshness of its ingredients by the thousand of national and international tourists who come to this region to sample the local cuisine. Another important delicacy in the local cuisine is Lagosta Suada (literally, sweating lobster), lobster cooked gently with tomatoes and wine in a sealed pot.
If it is seafood you are after this is the place to get it. Fish and shell-fish are served in every way imaginable in the local cuisine of the Silver Coast. Among the other dishes that are traditionally part of local cuisine are Sardinhas Grelhadas (grilled sardines), Bacalhau (salt cod), Bife de Atum (tuna steaks), Creme de Camarão (thick prawn soup) and
Bacalhau á Bràs (scrambled eggs with salted cod, potatoes and onions). Crab and squid are often served stuffed, with Lulas Recheadas à Lisbonense (stuffed squid Lisbon-style) being a great example of Portuguese seafood.
From the rural tradition the local cuisine has inherited dishes such as delicious pork casseroles, oven baked kid, stewed rabbit with rice, grilled skewers of beef with garlic and Leitão (suckling pig). Pork is also cooked with mussels in a Cataplana, a wok-like dish that seals in the flavours.
Particular specialities well worth trying include the bean pies from Torres Vedras, Cozido à Portuguesa (boiled meats and sausages with vegetables), Frango Assado (roast chicken), Favada à Portuguesa (a dish of butter beans and cuts of pork which is slow cooked for hours) and Carne de Porco à Alentejana (pork cubes served with clams – not strictly a Silver Coast dish but one the local cuisine has made its own).
Sweet local traditions
Those with a sweet tooth will love the local cuisine of the Silver Coast. The choice is vast and as sweet as you can stand. Many came originally from local convents and monasteries and have become entrenched in the local cuisine over the centuries.
Trouxas de Ovos and Lampreias de Ovos are sweet dishes made with eggs while from Caldas da Rainha come Cavacas (light crisp cakes). Further inland in the villages around Rio Maior the speciality is a sponge cake called Paes de Lo. As well as being sweet, all carry a hint of the taste of the apples and pears that the Silver Coast is so well known for.