ake our word for it. Ok, the place is not the trendiest or the winner of best design of the year award but the sandwich, that would make them win awards. You can choose the simple pork knuckle sandwich or you can go for something more elaborate and choose the pork knuckle and mountain cheese sandwich. It’s not just any cheese. It’s cheese from Serra da Estrela. Does it smell? Oh yes. Is it de-li-ci-ous? Hell yeah! Is it a perfect match with pork knuckle? Yes it is. The bread is slightly warm and that makes the whole difference. The recipe comes has brazilian influences and is top secret. There’s no way you can get from the cooks!
This is why you must go to Casa Guedes.
The queues out the door make clear that something good is happening inside Casa Guedes. That something is a delicious pork-leg sandwich with ‘mountain’ cheese. The pork is swimming in sauce, the cheese is creamy and the bread lightly toasted.
Apart from the famous sandwiches you can also try “salpicão” and “presunto” (smoked ham). The wine is also something unique. It comes from the owners’ farm and it’s the traditional farmers’ wine that you could only find in small village taverns.
There’s a terrace (except on rainy days) where you can enjoy these delicacies and also the garden view, located side by side with São Lázaro garden. Across the garden you can visit the City Library.
One by one, pork legs are slowly roasted in the huge oven in the kitchen behind the bar of Casa Guedes. They are then served directly from the roasting tray by the owner himself, Mr. Cesar, who expertly slices the meat before placing it on the bread and moistening it with its own gravy. He refuses to reveal the ingredients of the sauce, which is slightly spicy and is said to contain a secret Brazilian component. Sitting at the bar during a busy lunch hour and watching Mr. Cesar put together these simple sandwiches for eager crowds makes for strangely compelling viewing. He can’t even guess how many he has served up in the last 30 years, but you can tell from his nimble hands that it’s his life’s calling.
The sandes de pernil are a curious joy to watch being assembled as well as, of course, to eat.
The upgraded (and highly recommended) version of the sandwich contains the gooey queijo Serra da Estrela, a creamy sheep’s milk cheese made in the mountainous region of Serra da Estrela. This heavenly queijo has protected status and is included in the international list of endangered heritage foods maintained by the global Slow Food movement. Normally the cheese is bound in cloth; to eat it, the upper rind is cut and the soft cheese is drawn out of the center with a spoon. To round out the meal, we order Casa Guedes’s homemade fries and a glass of draft Super Bock dark beer, the Portuguese version of Guinness, albeit lighter in taste.
Though it is Casa Guedes’s raison d’être, sandes de pernil aren’t the only thing on the menu – their cod, steaks and octopus rice dishes are also formidable. The small shop also offers a peculiar winter dish typically found in northern Portugal: papas de sarrabulho, a soup made of sarrabulho (pig’s blood), a mixture of meat (hen, pork, sausages, ham and chorizo), cumin, lemon and papas (bread or millet flour).
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