Portugal! Oh The Sweets… & Other Treats!

October 20, 2015
October 20, 2015 Hilary

Portugal! Oh The Sweets… & Other Treats!


One of the more fun and interesting things about visiting a new place is trying the traditional foods! Sometimes you love them and sometimes you don’t, but either way, memories are made! We definitely found some gems while visiting Portugal!

The Sweets!

We wasted no time getting started as upon arrival at the hotel we were greeted by a lovely tray of Pastel de Nata, a flaky pastry shell filled with egg custard, which is the most famous of all the Portuguese desserts.

We soon discovered that these lovely little gems were available just about everywhere! Having never heard of them before it was funny that only one week before my trip, my mom told me she had just had the most amazing desert at a local restaurant, a Portuguese Tart!

The most famous place to get Pastel de Nata is also where they originate from. Pasteis de Belem is located in the neighborhood of the same name and can easily be spotted because there is always a line out the door. They’ve been using the same secret recipe since the monks of the Jeronimo Monastery opened the shop 1834!

This is what one of my fellow bloggers had to say about them:

These pastries are ephemeral bites of cinnamon and warmth. They must be eaten right away, never saved for later. Every coffee shop in Portugal produces an imitation, but none quite captures the lightness of the dough, the creaminess of the filling. These imitations even bear a different name: “pasteis de nata.” Because there is only one place in the world where you can get “pasteis de Belém.”

There were Pastelarias (bakeries) on just about every corner in every city we visited and we definitely enjoyed visiting them! Some of the other items we tried were the Bola de Berlim which is essentially a round fluffy donut coated with sugar and filled with various flavors of pastry cream, the palmier recheado, a palmier sandwich filled with creme that tasted a lot like an American Twinkie, the Pão de Ló, a Portuguese sponge cake, and my personal favorite the Queijadas De Sintra which is a little cheesecake tart made with cinnamon.

The Other Treats!

#PortuguesecheseWhile the Portuguese sweets were delicious and plentiful, I’m really more interested in savory tastes and my favorite food find in Portugal was definitely the cheese!

Upon being seated most restaurants will offer you a small plate of miniature cheeses, a basket of bread and maybe even a plate of meats or olives. Keep in mind that unlike in other countries these items are not complimentary, in fact you’ll be charged for each piece of bread, wheel of cheese, pat of butter or spread package that you open. Upon further examination we noticed that these menu items had a PP after them and are sold “per piece”.

Back to the cheese… As I said most restaurants gave us these little wheels of cheese as appetizers and we really loved them! We tried a number of different types and for the most part they were fairly mild with a medium texture. There were a few that were a little more on the fragrant side, but all were great! I’m quite sure that given the opportunity, Simon would have eaten just cheese at every meal! It took a few meals but we soon realized there was a proper way to eat them. Slicing off the top of the rind created a little bowl of sorts which made it easy to scoop out the cheese. It made a great spread for the bread too!


Pastéis de bacalhau, or codfish pastries are another very popular item in Portuguese cuisine and are made up mainly of potatoes, bacalhau (codfish) and eggs. They are deep-fried and can also be stuffed with other ingredients like the one in my photo which is filled with melted cheese. Careful when you take a bite or the hot cheese can burn your hand and mouth. We had these in a number of locations and while it wasn’t my personal favorite Simon liked them enough to have them a number of times.

#tostamistaWe found ourselves eating a number of meals on the go during out visit and a popular item for all of us was the Tosta Mista or ham and cheese sandwich on crusty bread.

#sangriablancoOf course we needed a beverage to go with all of this lovely food and my drink of choice while in Portugal was the Sangria Blanco! A white wine mixture with cinnamon, fresh fruit and other ingredients. The perfect drink on a hot day!

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I love to travel & explore the world both near and far! I do my best to make the most out of life each and everyday! I have two boys and they are, at the ages of 13 and 18, world travelers and all around go along guys. There isnt anywhere I cant take them. It is my hope this blog will be a way to share the fun things Ive learned while on our many adventures together!

Comments (35)

  1. We’re heading to Portugal in December and we cannot wait to try out all the tasty food – your post has got me very excited 🙂 #FarawayFiles

    • Hilary

      Oh good! We did love the food there! I’d absolutely go back for another visit!

  2. There are so many things to love about Portugal, the landscape, the people, the food/wine, the history and beautiful buildings, faro and food perfection in the form of pastel de nata. It reminds me of California – a port city and wine country in the north, agriculture in the middle and beaches in the south. Except instead of strip malls, there are castles and pousadas. One of my favorite destinations hands down.

  3. Clare Thomson

    We LOVED the food in Portugal although it was a bit of a shock to find out that you were charged for those appetisers. We polished off every plate until we worked it out – I can never say no to cheese. And as for the pasteis de nata, I couldn’t get enough of them especially warm from the oven. #FarawayFiles

    • Hilary

      Wasn’t it though? We’d never seen anything like it.1€ for butter! We LOVED the cheese and Pasteis de nata are delicious, but my favorite sweets were the cream filled buns!

  4. Yum, now I’m hungry! I’ve only been to Portugal once years ago and loved the place. We found this blackmarket Portuguese tart place where the workers in the factory were selling them illegally on the street straight out of the oven. If you handed them a euro through the grate in the street they’d hand you back a tart, no questions asked.

  5. Now I’m hungry! Those pastries / tarts look fabulous! And if there’s melted cheese and bread, I’m happy. Even your drink looks yummy!

    • Hilary

      The more I think about it the more I think a return trip is on order! A lovely country!!

  6. I agree – I always love trying the food of where I’m travelling to. It’s pretty much the first thing I do. I love pastel de nata, but I bet they were amazing in Portugal! #farawayfiles

    • Hilary

      Generally speaking food is always best from its source isn’t it? We’ve occasionally tried some unusual items like haggis in Scotland, which my son loved, and for the most part have great luck!

  7. One of the reasons we love to travel is trying all the different local delicacies, it’s a must. The Pastel de Nata’s were definite winners for us, although, like you, I also quite liked the miniature cheeses when you sat down at a restaurant.

    It’s things like this that make travelling so memorable at times. #farawayfiles

    • Hilary

      You’re so right! We are still taking about that cheese. Sadly we don’t have it in America.

  8. Can you believe that we I only ordered one pasteis de nata in Belem. 5 minutes later I was back in the queue. They are sublime! I’ve been dreaming of them ever since!

  9. Trish @ Mum's Gone To

    I couldn’t get enough of these custard tarts either. Have tried some back in the UK since our return but they just don’t taste the same.

  10. Oh my, how mouthwatering! Portugal sounds like a haven for anyone with a sweet tooth! Those Bola de Berlim look amazing, I’d want to try one in every flavour. And I’m also a sucker for anything that has cinnamon on it. Between the sweets and the cheese, I think I’d need to be doing a LOT more running so as not to return home with an extra 10kg! #farawayfiles

    • Hilary

      I know! Cheese and cinnamon and sugar are two things I just can’t resist!

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