Did you know that Portugal has a great tradition of chocolate?
Portugal is known to have a love affair with chocolates for ages now. Nowadays, there is an interesting fusion of modern and tradition for creating indulgent chocolates. Some of them are used for cakes, pastries and chocolate sculptures while others are used for direct consumption.
The long history of Portugal goes all the way back to the 1500’s when Portuguese explorers came across cocoa beans while first venturing into the "New World". Chocolate was first used as a drink and soon it became a luxury item of consumption across Europe, including Portugal, of course.
Chocolate was considered a food item for the elite for more than a century. But thanks to Vicente Ferreira, a well-known Portuguese chocolatier to the Royal Household, who introduced chocolate for medicinal purposes before it got commercialized. His job was to provide confections to the King and his attendants along with supplying cocoa butter to the Royal Military Hospital, which was believed to have multiple medicinal values. Nowadays, everyone in Portugal consumes chocolate. From cakes to bite-size candies, there’s always something to satisfy everyone’s cravings in Portugal.
Chocolate culture is very strong here, you will find chocolate in most of the restaurants as a dessert, like a mousse, cookies, fudge, etc. And also at every festival in the country at any time of the year. Even in cup forms! In some cities they serve their typical liqueur in chocolate cups: a cherry based liqueur (Ginjinha), typical from Lisbon and Centro's Towns as Obidos.
If you are a chocolate fan, the ideal place to experiment the chocolate experience in Portugal would be the Obidos International Chocolate Festival. Obidos is a marvellous fortified medieval town packed of history and charm, very close to Lisbon which deserves a visit any time of the year, but during spring it gets full of chocolate! The meeting point for this festival is The Obidos Castle Area, which gives an imposing scenery.
This festival started in 2002 and has been taking place every year, increasing its visitors for the talent spread and the village beauty. This fair lasts for 10 days and is usually held towards the end of April, annually. The medieval town of Obidos turns into baked goods and other varieties of desserts that the people can sample and buy. Visitors get a chance to experience a plethora of exhibitors and courses aimed at amateurs and professionals.
During this time, the town exposes amazing chocolate sculptures that the chocolatier masters, both locals and foreigners, work over several months putting up genuine works of art. Every year, the fair is based in one specific thematic, this year was inspired in the 20’s “Os loucos anos 20” and it was promising since it was celebrating 100 years since that time.
If you are wondering what happens with these amazing piece of art, don't worry! La Colonial de Eureka, a Spanish chocolate brand, is the official chocolate provider for the sculptures and for the last 3 years, these unique pieces go to Madrid to be exposed.
There are also cooking workshops, fun and colourful candy inspired characters and various other chocolatey things to taste and witness, like this chocolate sculptures. Whoever has a sweet tooth should definitely not miss out on this Festival!
There are plenty of activities for adults, who can sign up for culinary classes where chocolate is the main ingredient. They can also watch “cook-offs” involving bakers like the “Chocolatier of the Year” and the “International Competition of Chocolate Recipes”.
There are also activities for kids, like the “Kids Chocolate House” (Casa de Chocolate das Crianças) that offers a variety of activities and a kitchen to prepare several recipes.
This year would be the first one to be cancelled. Due to COVID -19 pandemic and our quarantine time is not going to be possible to attend, but you can plan ahead your next year’s visit. If you are craving a high dose of a sugar rush, are a chocolate lover and fanzy cute villages, make sure to plan your trip to Portugal during these Festival to get the best experience!
If you want to know more about this village in Portugal and more amazing and unique places to discover, feel free to contact us.