Bright and “early”, we ride north into the Douro Valley, following the veins that make their lazy way to the Atlantic. We’re heading to a renowned vineyard, and then to Peso da Régua. But first, a snack in the picturesque village of Amarante, recently “discovered” and gentrified into an upmarket weekend getaway for Porto’s residents. (Though this historic, sweet town was hardly ravished with luxury).
This town appears to subsist on two foods: sweets and charcuterie.
As usual, we do our research on the local sweets first. And as usual, we find unusually bright yellow fillings and coatings; we decide it’s the fresh, country eggs (like Mamma’s at home)! The basic ingredients in all the sweets are: egg-based cream, sugar, and flour.
Intriguing fact to confirm our suspicions: “Like fios de ovos and several other classical Portuguese sweets based on egg yolks, papo de anjo is believed to have been created by Portuguese monks and nuns around the 14th or 15th centuries. Laundry was a common service performed by convents and monasteries, and their use of egg whites for “starching” clothes created a large surplus of yolks.” The Papos de Anjo, or Angel’s Chins, are made with hostia, like the sacred wafers served in church.
Foguetes, or firecrackers, are essentially the same as the Papos de Anjo, only in a different shape. Brisas do Tamega mean “Breeze of the Tamega (River).”
Our favorite treat by far, and perhaps one of the best above the Algarve, was the Lerias. Almonds and brown sugar with a light frosting. Chewy and hearty with a rich almond crunch.
Before ducking back into our little car, we pop into a Charcuteria teaming with presunto, salpicao, and other cured meats and fresh cheese. A very nice man helps us order a simple sandwich to go on a marvelous Portuguese roll. Dense and ripe with fresh-baked aroma. A perfect meal for the road.