Serra da Estrela is already inviting enough in itself, but the charms of snow and mountain air demand a cuisine to match. The secret of the food is the excellence of the mountain products, without which the same recipes would lack their unique flavour. The famous Queijo da Serra goes without saying, but the wines, olive oils, fruit, sausages and breads also enrich the tables in this region. The unique characteristics of Serra da Estrela, particularly the herbs, give rise to recipes and products that are typical of the local cuisine, such as carqueja (gorse flower) rice, juniper liqueur or honey brandy. Due to the unique conditions of their habitat, kid and trout are the epitome of the mountain cuisine.
Transhumance and its influence on the cuisine
Transhumance, from the Latin trans (cross) and humus (land, region), is the periodic migration of a flock of sheep or goats, from the plain to the mountain. Depending on the climatic conditions on the Serra da Estrela and the region, this factor enables a variety of cheeses to be made, whose characteristics vary according to altitude, the quality of the pastures and the curing conditions.
Soft, buttery or hard, Queijo da Serra cheese is obtained from the slow draining of the curd through cardoons, after the coagulation of the raw sheep’s milk. The traditional management of the flocks, coupled with the manufacturing, makes Serra da Estrela Cheese the epitome of excellence amongst the products with the Protected Designation of Origin label.