When Luisa handed us two books ” EAT IN EVORA” and “ALENTEJO WINERIES” we knew then we had made the right decision coming to this region.
So basically, if you don’t really enjoy spending a lot of your time eating great food and drinking nice wines then re-think vacationing in this region. 😊But having said that you might enjoy the locals, the landscape, the beaches and the history.
Except for a few historical sites, there is nothing really visually appealing about the city of Evora. We might even describe it as being a bit on the gritty side. It does, however, have a UNESCO designation that highlights its historical significance.
You won’t see too many photos of the city itself in this post, because well basically – all of the twisty, cobblestone lanes in Evora all have the same view, whitewashed old buildings with yellow trims. However, walking and getting lost in the small cobblestone alleyways is a real treat.
Last year our Portuguese friends had insisted that we visit this region on our next visit to Portugal. Great food and wine, they said, you’ll find it there…and much more.
When we left Lisbon driving south, the traffic disappears and a feeling of serenity and simplicity takes over. WELCOME TO ALENTEJO!
In the countryside, we quickly found those great wines they were all talking so much about! Doesn’t that smile say it all 😊
Then, it didn’t take us long to find the food, that intense Alentejo cuisine. The Alentejo region is a must-visit for food lovers. There are places in the world where eating well is just part of the culture. Alentejo region is one of those places. We experienced here tasty home-style meals that are simply getting harder to find these days in restaurants. Many establishments no longer want to do the kind of preparation and work that these great meals require. Most often restaurants opt instead to serve meals that can be prepared quickly and preserved a long time before serving.
It’s not only about the food either. We found a homey relaxed ambiance in all the unique places we ate.
I won’t post all the pictures of the food & places we ate, but here below are some of our favourite meals:
La queue de boeuf au vin (oxtail in wine). Les joues de porc (pork cheeks). Blood pudding, the Alentejo way. Black pork, also known as raca Alentejana. The pigs roam freely to eat cork oak acorns. It was marinated many hours in port. Lagar do Bacalhau - codfish
As far as sweets go we are always on the hunt to find the local treats. So take a look at this one below. These are cooked daily and a white ribbon is placed around every single one. What an elegant touch! You’ll find these at Pastelaria Pao de Rala.
We need to also point out that the bread or Pão Alentejano is a homemade bread made in this region. It has a distinct shape, a round base with a kinda head shape at the top. It is a long-fermented bread made with a natural yeast starter. It has a slightly acidic aftertaste, a compact crumb and a thick rustic crust. It is served at every meal, usually with olive oil. SOOO YUMMY!
You also get incredible service as well! This entertaining guy below insisted I go around the counter so I could pick out my own bread. He explained to us the whole process of making the bread. I don’t think I will be making it anytime soon! 😊
Botequim da Mouraris (below) is located in the Moorish quarter of Evora. It is a tiny restaurant with only 12 stools at a counter facing a wall of vintage wine bottles. The owner is a collector. It was mid-week and this tiny restaurant was empty. We were the only customers that afternoon, therefore we had the privilege of having the proprietor, Domingos Canelas entertaining us. The chef is Florbela Canelas, his wife of many years he told us, loves to cook robust, richly flavorful dishes. Throughout our meal, she popped her head at the kitchen door and we made sure she knew how much we were enjoying our meal. We got BIG SMILES! Domingos takes pictures of favourite guests and he then shows them on a small t.v. screen in the restaurant. Guess what? We made it on T.V., so look for us when you go there.😊
If you visit Evora don’t miss out on the Roman Bath experience. In Acqua Veritas is a renowned spa in this region. The design inside is breathtaking, truly amazing. It has beautiful stone decor that is lit by glowing candles and soft lighting. We spent half a day and ended the experience by enjoying some delicious wines, olive oil, cheese, Alentejo bread and the famous black Portuguese pork. The Alentejo region produces some excellent cheeses, queijo de Serpa, is a creamy cheese with a strong aroma made from sheep’s milk. Book a spa day, you won’t regret it. Enjoy!
The Capela dos Ossos (Chapel of Bones) is one of the best-known monuments in Évora. It is a small interior chapel located next to the entrance of the Church of St. Francis. The Chapel gets its name because the interior walls are covered and decorated with human skulls. We were told that during the 16th Century, the graveyards in Evora were overcrowded so bones were exhumed to make way for new bodies to be buried.
They believe about 5,000 bones are intricately cast into the walls, from floor to ceiling. The skulls seemed to be watching us from every angle. It’s an incredibly eerie experience but worth the visit.
Our apartment in Evora was amazing. We have never stayed in an apartment in Europe that was as well equipped as this one. Better than home. 😊 Casa das Arcadas through booking.com. Click on the link and you will also see some great photos of the centre square of Evora.
What we enjoyed about Alentejo –
1. The locals – the humblest & kindness of people – a waiter making sure we left with an authentic local grown lemon in our bag. And, Pedro going out of his way to make sure we knew where to buy the best codfish and brought us there. A local taking all the time needed to thoroughly go over all the places we needed to visit.
2. The home-style flavorful food and great blended Alentejo wines.
3. This region is still considered off the beaten path. There were only two tourists here. 😊 A lot of hand gestures as most people here speak only Portuguese. We had a few laughs!
What we didn’t find here –
1. Getting away from the food! After two weeks of binging on food and wine, enough is enough already!
2. No local transportation to get to most places. You will need to rent a vehicle if you want to explore the entire region.
This map below basically outlines the Alentejo region with Evora situated almost smack in the middle.