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  • Writer's pictureRodrigo Baena

A Feast for the Senses: Exploring the Cheese, Bread, and Wine Festival in Portugal.

A sheep enjoying being petted

Every year, the picturesque town of Palmela in Portugal comes alive with the sights, sounds, and flavors of the "Festival Queijo, Pão e Vinho" – the Cheese, Bread, and Wine Festival. This year, from March 31st to April 2nd, locals and visitors alike gathered to indulge in a celebration of culinary delights and traditional craftsmanship.

As we stepped into the festival grounds, we were greeted by the tantalizing aroma of freshly baked bread, the rich scent of aged cheeses, and the inviting bouquet of local wines from the Setúbal Peninsula. The air was filled with laughter and chatter as families and friends meandered through the rows of stalls, eager to sample the array of gastronomic treasures on offer.

Olive oil tasting

My wife found herself in heaven when she stumbled upon the olive oil tasting part of the festival. With a gleam in her eye, she savored the rich flavors of the region's finest olive oils, each one a testament to the centuries-old tradition of olive cultivation in Portugal.

One of the highlights for our group was watching the delight on the faces of our friends' children as they interacted with farm animals, petted sheep, and even participated in animal races. For the adults, the chance to indulge in a wine tasting experience was not to be missed. With a wine glass in hand, available for just €2.5 euros, we embarked on a journey of discovery, sampling a variety of wines from the local sweet Moscatel to crisp Vinho Branco and other traditional regional grapes.

Among the culinary delights, one particular cheese stole the show – the melted style sheep cheese. Served in a unique manner where it was already melted and ready to be savored without the need for heating, it quickly became a favorite among festival-goers.

But the Festival Queijo, Pão e Vinho is not just about indulging in delicious food and drink. It is also an opportunity to immerse oneself in traditional activities such as milking, shearing, and cheese production. Throughout the event, visitors had the chance to learn about these age-old crafts and witness skilled artisans at work.

As the day progressed, we were treated to numerous presentations, including traditional songs performed by local ladies from the Alentejo, a southern region of Portugal. Their melodic voices filled the air, transporting us to a bygone era of rural charm and timeless beauty.

Ladies from Alentejo singing

Organized by ARCOLSA - the Regional Association of Dairy Sheep Breeders of Serra da Arrábida, with the support of the Palmela City Council and the Quinta do Anjo Parish Council, the festival embodies the spirit of community and celebrates the rich culinary heritage of the region.

As the sun set on another successful year of the festival, we left Palmela with hearts full and taste buds satisfied, already looking forward to next year's edition of this culinary extravaganza.

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