The Dão. When most people hear this word, they think of wine before they think of the river that gave the wine its name. To tell you the truth, one of the reasons to develop the Caminho do Dão was to put the river back into the name Dão and give it more visibility. The Dão is a bit of a 'hidden river', one with few references and passing through hardly any villages or towns. Out of sight is out of mind. Not on the Caminho do Dão though! In this case the gastronomic qualities of the region are in service of the hiking program dedicated to the Dão river.
We are hiking in a wine region in rural Portugal and these three elements combined spell: good food! Portuguese love to grow, prepare and eat good food and we are walking through a landscape that is testament to that, as we pass countless vegetable plots, vineyards, cornfields, flocks of sheep and olive groves. You can see it as a 'foodscape' and even the forest plays its part because that's where the mushrooms grow. All of this is great news for hikers who are notoriously hungry people. What's better than sitting down for e healthy and tasty meal after a long day of hiking? Or packing your lunch boxes with freshly made salads, quiche and cake knowing you'll be eating that somewhere on the banks of the river later in the day?
In organizing the hospitality for the hiking week, we spoke with the various chefs to make sure a group of hungry hikers would get the best the region has to offer. Without this being a central focus when we started organizing the program the gastronomic experience has become a beautiful addition, complementing the full sensory experience of the Dão region. In line with our ethics of supporting local and sustainable the meal options always include a vegetarian option and for the lunches the chefs prepare fresh dishes that we pack in our own to go boxes minimizing our footprint ;-).
Experiencing the regional gastronomy has become an integral part of the Caminho do Dão experience and just one more reason to walk the Dão valley.
Our special thanks for the great food go out to:
Terreiros de Santra Cruz, restaurant and guest houses in Carapito.
Recordo restaurant in Penalva do Castelo.
Quinta d'Arminho, regenerative agriculture in the Dão valley near Mangualde.
Hunus Project, catering and sustainable clothing brand from Porto.
Hotel Beira Dão in Sangemil.