MOUNTAIN COMFORT

Six degrees marked on the car thermometer. Outside dark and the wind shook the treetops that flank the road leading to the mountain tower.

The stop is at Penhas da Saúde to try out Varanda da Estrela, a restaurant on TripAdvisor top preferences  when you researched the “10 best restaurants in Covilhã”.

The space is warm and cozy, with a careful service. All the employees are aware of the needs of the customers, although the space begins to fill shortly after 20h. It is important to book if you want to ensure a place in this restaurant.

In the local starters (€ 6), the local cheese wins the race, while the remaining products are of good quality. Perhaps if the pineapple was natural and not from a can, the blood sausage would entered the race. But overall a good entertainment for the mouth while waiting the main course: the juniper rice!

“Is this rice made with the blood of the animal?” I ask intrigued by the color of the sauce.

“No, no. If it was we would tell because there’s a lot of people that don’t it… Including me! And, look, my grandparents are from Gerês!”, said the friendly employee, adding that the color of the sauce is from the infusion made with juniper. Local sausages and mushrooms filled with charm this unusual rice (€ 11) that comes bubbling to the table and just because of it is worth going back.

As for the second course dish – Lagareiro Octopus with Migas – the value is a little expensive for what we’re used to pay  – 15 €. But it was the softest octopus that I’ve ever tasted, result of the hands of the older ladies that we see working in the kitchen. And after all, we’re a little far from the sea, right ?!

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