Visiting Sintra? No visit is complete without trying Travesseiro, their famous pillow shaped pastry (the word literally means pillow). These delicate, light as air pastries are made of puff pastry filled with a sweet, eggy almond cream and dusted with caster sugar on top. They have a pocket of air on top of the almond cream and melt in the mouth, their presence only marked by the sprinkling of sugar and pastry crumbs that fall upon your clothing.
Inside a travesseiro
There are many places that sell Travesseiro in Sintra. The most famous is Piriquita, established in 1862. A tip though: don't let google results fool you. It told me that it was closed and certainly the original one on Rua Padarias at the centre of Sintra's old town was, but a couple of minute's walk away is Piriquita II, a larger cafe that is open 7 days a week.
They sell a range of cakes but the star is definitely the Travesseiro in a large display of its own. Service is friendly by our waitress and it is full of tourists like ourselves that just want to have a coffee or tea and a pastry. The Travesseiro here aren't served warm and they're certainly very good and tasty.
There is also Fábrica das Verdadeiras Queijadas da Sapa on the way to the Palacio Nacional da Pena. This is a cute little café with an eye catching display of cakes. It's popular before and after hike stop. While I wasn't as smitten with their Travesseiro as they seemed more just pastry with a small amount of almond cream and were served quite cold their cinnamon dusted cheese tart or queijada was excellent.
But my favourite Travesseiro of all is at Casa do Preto which is in a different part of town and not in Sintra's old town. Now we have to get something out of the way - the name means "House of darkie" and indeed the logo causes a double take. It was named after the owner who when he first arrived in Sintra, he was the only person of colour.
The Travesseiros here are warm and there's a generosity in the almond cream as well as sugar. I had it at the stunning hotel Vila Vitorino for breakfast and it was so good I realised that this was the pastry that everyone was raving about.
It was everything that I had hoped it would be. Each bite is like a deep sigh; it's a collapse of pastry, sugar and cream in the mouth and suddenly it's finished and the only trace of it is in the crumbs and sugar on your dress and the smile on your face.
So tell me Dear Reader, have you ever tried a travesseiro? Have you ever tried a food that was famous and wondered what the fuss was all about?
These meals and travel were independently paid for.
R. das Padarias 18, 2710-623 Sintra, Portugal
Open Wednesday to Monday 8:30am–8pm
Phone: +351 21 923 1595
Queijadas da Sapa
Volta Duche 12, 2710-631 Sintra, Portugal
Tuesday to Sunday 9:30am–6pm
Phone: +351 21 923 0493
Casa do Preto
Estr. Chão de Meninos 40, 2710-194 Sintra, Portugal
Monday to Friday 7am–8pm
Saturday & Sunday 8am–8:30pm
Phone: +351 21 923 0436