This far into COVID, I think some of us are tiring of our own cooking and the drabness of our grocery shopping routines. So, a little inspiration from the Mercados Municipais Estefânia in Sintra, a small but popular food hall in town that offers fresh produce and a wide range of foodstuffs.
It is a popular stop among our guests on the Sintra Untour. Until you can get there, here’s a little glimpse of what you might see there.
Pastel del Nata is a Portuguese staple, these custard filled sweets are a classic, and you will find them along with other local sweets at our favorite bakery stall. They sell a Sintra variation with cinnamon that is memorable. Read my love letter to the Pastel de Nata and a little more about its history here.
Look for good local cheeses! Over the course of a week, you will have the opportunity to sample many local varieties. Portugal has a surprising selection of local cheeses, including some DOP varieties. A few helpful words for your shopping: curado = aged, queijo fresco = fresh cheese, cabra = goat, ovelha = sheep, vaca = cow.
Of course baccala is plentiful. The salt-dried cod is essentially the national dish of Portugal, and it can be prepared any number of ways. Don’t be shy! Ask for some advice from the merchants on how to best prepare it back in your Untour apartment kitchen!
Visit the butcher too! Portugal may not be known for its sausages the way some cultures are, but they make some very tasty ones! Sintra’s market offers a nice variety of local meats and artisanal sausages to try, along with delicious cured meats.
If you plan to cook, don’t forget to stock up on bulk spices. You can buy small quantities to stock your vacation kitchen. You might want to sample some olives, beans, and other savory delicacies that are “under oil.”
Of course you can also buy a delicious variety of prepared foods at the market, to eat in or carry back to your Untours apartment. Dine indoors or out. Either way, you’ll be noshing among the locals. The tourists in town congregate around the Palaces, so you can share the market with the locals.
However you explore the foods of Portugal, we look forward to seeing you soon on an Untour in Sintra!