Happy 2017! I hope you had a magical holiday season with lots of food and lots of joy. I had a wonderful (albeit too short) time in Portugal where I stocked up on lots of Portuguese food from all over the country and I wanted to share this stash with you here.
I love giving gifts! I also love introducing people to new things and experiences. So it makes me extra happy when I can gift someone new things for them to try. As such, I created a basket of Portuguese goodies that my husband and I hand picked for one of our family members so she could start the new year off with a fabulous Portuguese vibe.
You may be surprised to hear that this basket didn’t include any wine! Instead, we opted to be unpredictable and include a blackberry liqueur. Blackberry (amora) is one of my favorite liqueur flavors. To continue the fruit theme, we added in some Ameixas de Elvas, which are a Portuguese variety of plum called Rainha Cláudia cooked in a sugar syrup. Yum! You can eat these as part of a dessert or on their own when you have a craving for something sweet. I absolutely love them.
Of course, we also included some cooking staples such as a Quinta Holminhos extra virgin olive oil from Trás-os-Montes. If you love Italian olive oil, I recommend you try Portuguese olive oil at some point – you’ll be pleasantly surprised! As I got the opportunity to visit Aveiro over Christmas, we couldn’t help but pick up some Cale do Oiro fleur de sel (flor de sal in Portuguese) from there. Fleur de sel is the fine layer of salt crystals that form on the top layer of salt marshes and, due to its complex structure, is used for garnishing food once it’s ready, rather than for actual cooking. Portugal is one of the few countries that produces fleur de sel.
When I stopped off in Penela to check out the live nativity scene, I stumbled upon a market where they were selling locally-produced goods. So, naturally, I got some honey and eucalyptus hard candies – perfect for winter colds, although you don’t really need to be sick to enjoy these. We added in some Madeiran honey cake, which lasts months, because we had visited Madeira in 2016. Another Portuguese classic in the gift basket was doce de tomate, tomato jam by Quinta do Freixo – another reputable Portuguese brand. If you’re skeptical, don’t be: it isn’t anything like ketchup. In fact, it’s sweet like any other jam and you can spread it straight on bread, as a sweet relish on desserts, or add it to cheese for a killer sweet & salty flavor combo. Although I’d never seen these before, I wanted to branch out to new foods and buy these dried apple and cinnamon ingots by Frutaformas that have won numerous food awards – how yummy do they sound?!
As much as I love Portuguese food, the gift basket wouldn’t be complete without some non-edible products. So I included a luxury orange blossom scented soap from Castelbel. Oranges remind me of Portugal and this soap smells so much like orange blossoms – it was hard to resist, so I didn’t. I also added in a hand cream from classic Portuguese brand Benamor. I love all their 1920s and 1930s style packaging and judging from the fact that this company has been around nearly 100 years, you know they must be doing something right with their products!
I’m pretty pleased with how the gift basket turned out and the recipient loved it too! What did you think? I’d love to hear what you would put in yours, so comment below.