Flavours of Portugal: Fruit on the Camino
We took off on our short Camino de Santiago trip in the colorful month of October. Our trip took us from the picture-perfect town of Porto, along the coast to finish in beautiful Baiona. My mission was to discover the fruit on the Camino. What fruits were ripe? What fruits could be seen from the trail? Which fruits would we taste at each stop along the way?
This was the perfect time of year to experience the flavours of Portugal. Leaves on the trees were turning from bright greens to oranges and reds. Around every bend, another tree hung low filled with delicious berries. Grapes of all kinds, apples, tomatoes, olives and lemons can be seen. These were just a few of our encounters along the Coastal Camino from Porto.
Firstly, you will see that Grapes are everywhere! Cycling or walking the Camino Portugues trail from Porto you will find many delicious varieties of grapes. We are all aware of the wine culture in Portugal and Spain but rarely think of the dozens of varieties of grapes used to produce wines. From port wine in Porto to the lesser-known Vinho Verde found in areas near the River Minho, there is something for all tastes. My favourite is the moscatel grapes used to make the sweetest white wine. We found some low-hanging moscatel grapes in the back lanes just outside of Porto. Luckily we had Portuguese native Mario with us to point out the varieties and tempt us to try a few. Used to make sweet, often bubbly dessert wine this fruit is high on my list of must tastes.
The green Vino Verde grapes are also found lining the fields of Northern Portugal. Used to make a light, slightly fizzy white wine, this grape is one of the most popular in the region. Another popular variety is the Alvarinho grape can also be found along the route and this delicious fruit is related to the Albariño in Spain, found just outside the border with Rías Baixas. Grapes are the most tempting in Autumn. They are perfectly plump and ripe.
Another fruity highlight of the trip were the Lemon trees jutting out from walled gardens in Northern Portugal. These bright-colored fruits go perfectly with the fresh seafood you will find in any restaurant on the Coastal Camino.
Next on the list are the hidden gems of the trip: the Kiwis and the Marmelos. The hairy kiwi fruits are hiding among low-hanging branches before Viana do Castelo, shading from the Autumn sun. Pear-shaped Quince trees were my surprise find on the route. These fruits are also known as Marmelo’s in Portugal and their soft texture makes them ideal for making marmalade. Yum! They produce beautiful pink flowers in May and are ripe for picking in September.
As we made our way out of Esposende, from the coastal roads to the forest tracks, we passed by plenty of orange and lemon trees. Their colors leave prints on our imagination.
Last but not least we stumbled upon rows of apple trees, ripe for picking. We even had some apples as presents kindly brought to us by Maria’s lovely parents on our last day. Fruit-filled orchards were a highlight of my Camino trip along the Portuguese coast. For anyone who enjoys fresh-smelling fruit and witnessing nature’s power to produce these amazing colors then this route is just perfect. I’ve already been making plans to go back with my good friend Mario for my next fix of fruity goodness.