A monarchic cake

A great sweet!

Salt of Portugal

Dona AméliaIn 1901, the Portuguese royal family embarked on a visit to the island of Madeira and Azores. The event was a great honor for the local populations but presented them with a difficult problem: how do you choose a gift for monarchs who have everything?

The Azores Terceira island offered queen Dona Amélia a new cake made with local ingredients: corn flower, raisins, sugar cane molasses, and cinnamon. The queen enjoyed it so much that the new creation became known as the Dona Amélia cake.

More than a century later, the cake continues to be popular in the Terceira island and for a good reason. We loved the Donas Amélias we tried at O Forno, a great pastry store in downtown Angra do Heroism.

The ability of royalty to inspire the delicious Donas Amélias makes us wonder whether we should restore the monarchy.

O Forno is located on Rua São João in Angra do Heroismo, Terceira, Azores, tel. 295 213 729.

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The Alcobaça game

If you travel with children, it’s always a good idea to have something for them to entertain themselves. This is the Portuguese version.

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Alcobaça Composite

It can be hard to visit monuments with little kids, so it is always a good idea to engage them in a game. If you visit Alcobaça, a beautiful abbey in the middle of Portugal, you can ask your kids to go on a treasure hunt. They can look for stones with carved initials and photograph them. This game can turn an otherwise boring visit into a memorable one.

Masons often carved their personal marks on stones placed in the parts of the cathedral where they worked. They did it to show pride in their work but also to claim the work as theirs so they could get paid.

Centuries later, these signatures remind us of the humble people whose hard work created a legacy of enduring beauty.

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Casa de Pasto

Some of my favorite foods this week.

Salt of Portugal

Casa de Pasto

Casa de Pasto was the designation given to humble restaurants that served comfort food to country folks, making them feel at home when they visited the city. So, it was with low expectations that we walked up the stairs of a Lisbon restaurant called Casa de Pasto. We were greeted by an exuberant decoration that combines ceramics and artifacts sold in country fairs with a deft sense of design.

The food was a revelation. First, a gazpacho so intense that it could make a Spaniard blush with pride. Then, the freshest sea bass, perfectly grilled, the kind of delight that you can only enjoy in Portugal. Next, we shared a grilled veal T-bone steak, so large and succulent that it would bring tears to the eyes of a Florentine. The meal’s ending was a chocolate mousse so perfect it could convince a Belgian to move to Lisbon.

Casa de Pasto is a restaurant…

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