We’d been meaning to go to the Monchique sausage festival (Feira dos Enchidos Tradicionais de Serra de Monchique) for years and today was the day we finally made it!
Earlier in the week I went to the Tourist Information office keen to discover more about the Feira. Unfortunately, they only had basic information such as date/time and that exhibitors included crafts, cakes, medronho, honey and of course, sausage! All this hand-written on a scrap of paper as no printed literature was available. There was also going to be ‘Animation’ throughout the day and although I pressed for further information such as what it was and when it started – my request was met with a shrug and I was given the Camara Municipal’s website.
I managed to glean a little more information with the help of Google translate from the Monchique Camara Municipal’s.
It is one of the most important events in the South of the country and has more than 50 exhibitors. Want to publicise and promote artisanal Delicatessen serrana derived from black pork and produced using traditional methods in the region, as well as, provide a focal point for the dissemination and promotion of other products Sierra as the traditional grappa brandy made from Arbutus Berry, homemade sweets, typical of the region, honey, liqueurs and crafts.
The fair of Sausages develops around the pavilions of exhibition and sale of sausages and other traditional products and takes place at Municipal Heliport.
After a wibbly wobbly drive round hairpin bends and through beautiful countryside we arrive in Monchique. We find the Heliporto Municipal, park the car and walk to the huge marquee-style building.
As we enter the Heliporto I immediately spot and make a bee-line for a stand with the producer selling one of my favourite liquors; Aguardente de medronho, o mel e o limao (Medronho with honey and lemon). I’ve looked for this particular local brand of medronho for ages without success. I could never remember the name ‘Monte da Lameira‘ only its distinctive label. We tentatively approach the stand and I’m delighted the woman spoke English which is great! Now I can not only ask more in-depth questions but also understand the answers! She plays us their video and explained how Medronho is distilled – we are fascinated.
It takes 15kg of berries from the Strawberry Tree (Arbutus unedo L) to produce 1 litre of Medronho!
Unfortunately, they do not have a website only a card with their name: Monte da Lameira~ Aguadente de Medronho, mobile phone number and email. The video is also not available on YouTube – a great shame because I would love to share a link to the video in this post to help promote their Medronho.
I purchase the Medronho and am also given a leaflet promoting a shop in Monchique called LOJA do MEL e do MEDRONHO (Honey and Firewater Medronho’s Shop).The shop sells the produce of local producers and is situated in the central square near the restaraunte “Fonte dos Chorões”
When I return home I study the leaflet only to discover there are no basic details such as opening times or contact details. A great shame because it’s a long way to drive on a wing and a prayer that the shop will be open! Such simple useful information which should be included – I wonder who is responsible for their marketing?
As we wander round the Feira I’m amazed by the number of stands selling Medronho distilled in Monchique! I am tempted to “try” them all, however common sense overcame this temptation and I resist. Medronho is extremely potent and is aptly named “Fire Water” for a good reason!
My next purchase, some local honey, tastes so different to the mass-produced product we buy in the supermarket. I might be Piglet but like Winnie the Pooh, I love honey. Although I look at the tempting displays of delicious cakes I resist because I have just made my first Chocolate Chouriço (Salami).
We pause at one stand fascinated by an elderly man carving and selling handmade wooden spoons. He is delighted to show us his craftwork and it gives me a great opportunity to (try)practice speaking Portuguese. We get by, sort of, and had a half decent conversation about his one and only trip to England twenty years ago. I try to discover the type of wood he uses for the spoons. It begins with O sounds like “osso” and is not olive. Any ideas?
Finally, we arrive at the sausage producers’ stands and I try several different types of sausage before deciding which one to buy.
My favourite is black in colour and contains rice. I’ve not seen this before and wanted to buy one. However, Mr Piglet is not impressed and not wanting to eat a huge black sausage on my own I conceded defeat. However, I struck lucky with the Chouriço sausage and found a woman ready to go “halves” with me. In hindsight I should have asked her if she fancied sharing the black sausage with me as well.
There are many stands including crafters such as a woman weaving. I could have spent a further hour just wandering and chatting to the stall holders who were not busy. But with no sign of “Animation” I felt Mr Piglet was listless and ready to drive back down the mountain and home.
Would we go next year? Yes, most definitely!
For further details of future events in Monchique you may find the Calender of Festas, Feiras e Romarias in Monchique 2012 of interest.
For information on events throughout Portugal visit the Portugal’s Official Tourist Information Website