This month, I got invited to fly to Portugal to attend a food exhibition! InovCluster (an agro-industrial cluster based in the centre of Portugal) organised the 1st Agrifood innovation event inovAgri (a9agri) in Castelo Branco (4th-6th of May). In the exhibition, top Portuguese producers were exhibiting to spread more awareness to the public about their brands as well as pushing to expand overseas. There were also B2B meetings organised within the exhibition, for an opportunity for Portuguese food producers and international food companies to meet and discuss potential collaborations.
Portuguese cuisine is becoming more popular in the UK, as it recently started trending with its well known little custard tarts (Pastel de nata), spicy sausages, great cheeses and wines. In fact, the British have made it clear that Portugal is one of their favourite vacation destinations. Wonderful weather, low prices, and good food. I mean, what more could you ask for? In 2015, 18 million tourists visited Portugal from all over the world, I wonder how many of them were British? Bet it’s a good number!
As I got to visit the food exhibition in Castelo Branco, I was introduced to many local brands and products. The Portuguese are known for their wonderful jams. There were a few local jam producers exhibiting at the food exhibition. I have tasted different kinds of jams during my trip, and the orange coffee jam was definitely the winner! Have you heard of this combination before? I even brought a jar with me for my Mum to try. All of the jams that I’ve seen in the exhibition are handmade by lovely people, using the freshest products and taste absolutely amazing!
Another great product that is locally produced in Portugal is honey. The Portuguese honey that I got to taste at the exhibition was raw, artisan made, unfiltered and cold pressed. They also had different variations of flavours, for example orange honey or even lavender honey.
Just as wine, cheese is a valued part of the Portuguese cuisine. Using goat and sheep milk, artisan cheese is made in the heart of Portugal. The cheese that you can see in the picture below is Seia cheese which is made from sheep’s milk. This cheese is a product of Beira’s region. The flavour is mild and delicate, and the texture is semi soft and creamy.
One of my absolute favourite products that I got to try during my visit, and made sure to bring a sample back home was green wine. Have you ever tried green wine before? I don’t know if I’m the only one who has never heard of it before, but apparently green wine is a thing in Portugal. I really liked how mellow the taste is and how sparkly the wine is. It is also organic and vegan, so it ticks all the boxes!
They are also known for a Portuguese version of Irish cream, so it’s basically very similar to Irish cream but it’s lighter. This spirit is called Licor de Arroz Doce, a local product with 14,5% vol. If you translate Aroz Doce into English, it means rice pudding! It really is as sweet and smooth as rice pudding which is a traditional dessert in Portugal. If you’re in Portugal, make sure to give it a try as I would strongly recommend this.
And finally, the last brand that I was impressed by and want to mention in this post is Wild Snow Dog. Wild Snow dog is a premium gin brand, their gin is very interesting as it’s distilled from juniper that grows on the highest mountain of continental Portugal (Serra da Estrela) and nine selected botanicals. Alcohol content of this gin is 40% vol. There are two different gins to choose from, dry gin (blue) and cherry gin (red).
There were many more wonderful products at the exhibition, but above are my top picks. InovCluster did a great job by organising this exhibition, and giving the local producers a chance to meet with international companies to help them increase the percentage of goods that are being exported from Portugal to the rest of the world. In short, Portugal is not only a beautiful country to visit, but is also a great producer to many high quality tasty foods. Next time you go grocery shopping, keep an eye on Portuguese products I’m sure that you’ll be impressed!
Disclosure: I was a guest of InovCluster in Portugal, but all opinions are my own.