Vila Real district is located on the North of Portugal, west of the city of Porto and north of the Douro River. Vila Real has always belonged to the historical province of Trás-os-Montes (literally meaning “Behind the Hills”).
This region is a rugged area of low mountains and narrow valleys. Historically, Vila Real District had always been cut off from the coast by the Marão, Gerês, and Cabreira mountains until a highway was cut through in the 1980‘s.
The soil throughout the District is poor, although wine grapes are produced in the south near the Douro River. Potatoes, corn, and rye have always been the traditional crops, as well as limited dairy farming.
Granite and the manufacture of mineral water (such as Vidago and Pedras Salgadas) are two important industries.
The largest towns are all very small, when compared to provincial capitals in Spain, the region has several small villages, very typical and rural, where tradition rules.
The specialities in this District are soups, beef and veal, roasted kid’s goat, usually served with rice and vegetables prepared with different techniques.
Codfish is also used along the District (because it is a dry ingredient, that can be easily preserved for many days), as well as several recipes with Corn.
Sweets and Desserts are, however, the speciality of the region, based in Sugar and Egg cream, Milk, Pumpkin, Cinnamon and Almonds.