Travel publisher Lonely Planet has described the Alentejo as “one of the world’s great unsung culinary destinations”.
Writer Regis St Louis says the region is the “gastronomic soul of Portugal”.
“It produces half of the nation’s wine and cooks up some of its most famous dishes. It also holds some of the most authentic restaurants in the country – places which celebrate age-old recipes and the deep Alentejan connection to the soil.”
St Louis goes on to offer tips on best dishes, desserts and wines, and where to enjoy them.
Favourites include the delicious ‘Carne de Porco à Alentejana’, “a local surf and turf dish” of pork and clams, often cooked in a covered copper dish, and ‘açorda’, a bread soup with garlic and herbs (usually coriander) and olive oil.
The Alentejo is also home to a series of “delightful pastries and desserts, including versions you won’t find elsewhere”, some of them made by nuns using centuries-old recipes.
Highlights include the signature ‘pão de rala’, an almond cake made with egg yolk and lemon zest, and ‘sericaia’, a kind of egg custard with sugar plums and cinnamon.
St Louis also recommends the region’s “exceptional wines”, which feature a mix of “bold, full-bodied reds, and smooth, well-balanced white wines”, adding that a good place to start a wine journey is Évora’s info centre and Rota dos Vinhos do Alentejo (Wine Route of the Alentejo).
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Photo: Carne de Porco à Alentejana