Portugal 2006: Abrantes

Saturday, 20 May 2006

After picking up our rental car at Europcar (a nice Peugot 107), we made our exit from Lisboa today quite gracefully, with only one small unintentional detour. We went straight north on N115, pausing for café e pastéis in Bucelas. Then we slowly worked our way north and east through some beautiful country, stopping for a very enjoyable lunch in Vila Chã de Ourique. Unfortunately, we neglected to note the name of the restaurant, which deserves a mention :-{

Later in the afternoon, we arrived at our residence for the next three nights – Quinta de Coalhos, near Pego. It is quite an amazing place, having only three rooms and a suite. We are currently the only ones in residence and so have all the common space to ourselves!

On the owners recommendation, we had dinner in Pego at O Cabaço. It was a great suggestion – we both had porco preto com migas. Migas is a wonderful thing. Our menu reader describes it as “bread cooked with well-seasoned ingredients to form a kind of omelette”, but we think it was more like a giant dumpling. Either way it was great! For wine we had the 2004 Casal da Coelheiras which was very tasty and excellent value.

The weather was a very nice 2.5 today.

Sunday, 21 May 2006

We did a number of things today:

• leisurely morning at the Quinta de Coalhos (after the very tasty pequeno almoço served here)

• wine tasting at Quinta da Côro (an unusual visit)

• lunch at A Lúria – the best meal we’ve had so far in Portugal (and we haven’t had any bad ones!)

• visited Tomar and the castle there, including the Convento de Cristo. Some beautiful gardens make up part of this large complex, started by the Templars in the 12th century

a light dinner at the Quinta de Coalhos – a wonderful repast, as we have quickly come to expect, it consisted of caldo verde which seems to be Portugal’s national soup, delicious bread with some cheese and spreads, olives and a nice bottle of 2002 Dona Ermelinda. For dessert we had wonderful fresh strawberries and the local specialty tigeladas de Abrantes an amazing baked, custardy cake.

Today’s weather was a rather passable 2.0+.

Monday, 22 May 2006

Another lovely day (3.0) found us with a very limited agenda, which is how we like it. First, we visited the Quinta do Casal da Coelheira in Tramagal, about 10km west on N118. They make some very good wine there, which we had confirmed on Saturday night at dinner, where we had a bottle of the 2004. So we bought a bottle of that, plus a couple bottles of their well-thought-of 2003 Reserva.

After visiting the winery, we went into Abrantes (a town of about 11,000 people), which is just north of where we are staying across the Rio Tejo. At the information centre a very helpful young woman answered all of our questions, the most important of which was the location of a good pasteleria! The one pictured below was an excellent choice for our morning café and pastel de nata (for Steve). Susan tried one of the local specialties – palha de Abrantes (which also happened to be the name of the pasteleria). Excellent fare all around. We then explored the old town centre for awhile and in the process picked up some supplies for our planned picnic lunch. There was good bread to be had in a local padaria and we found cheese and carrots at the daily market.

Then, we toured around the area on some of the local roads, eventually stopping for a late picnic lunch at a very pretty spot (see photos below) on N3 between Mação and Penhascoso. We enjoyed the rest of the day at the Quinta do Coalhos, resting and doing some planning for tomorrow’s journey (we are leaving here after three wonderful days). And, we returned to O Cabaço (in Pego) for dinner again, where we had another great meal (including another bottle of the 2004 Casal da Coelheiras). Steve had carne de porco com ameijoas; Susan’s dinner was ameijoas à Bulhão Pato, a delicious dish of clams with garlic and coriander/cilantro. Hosted by Luis Manuel Camões, this is a very nice place to dine.