Aveiro is in the Beiras region, south of Oporto and near the coast. The beaches of the Costa Nova are beautiful, and during the week at the end of June, were virtually empty. The making of salt is a major industry, and the colorful and elegant boats with the curved bow (moliciero) harvest seaweed. The towns canals remind one of Venice. Even so, the town has a newish feel to it, maybe it was just too open after the warren-like streets of Porto. It was my least favorite town.
The pastelarias of Aveiro had some delicious pastries though, and wed pop into one for a quick treat. The specialty of this town is a confection called ovos moles (soft eggs). This is sweetened egg yolk encased in a crisp outer shell that reminded me of slightly sweetened communion wafer! Not bad, not great, at least to me. They come in the shape of sea shells.
I did love the morning Mercado de Peixe (fish market) where baby eels escaped the tables to squirm about on the floor. Eels are a specialty there too. A regret is that I didnt have eel soup.
We had one highly memorable meal in Aveiro. The restaurant is called Salpoente. If you ever find yourself in town, its at Canal S. Roque 83. My friend, Al, and I shared a very rich arroz de marisco (rice and seafood). This was a spectacle! A large pot arrived at the table and when the lid was removed, the barely contained shellfish popped up: cockles, lobster, huge prawns, lots of legs of the spider crab. Antennae and legs of all sorts seemed in a hurry to escape. We dispatched most of it painlessly! Have it somewhere if you see it and enjoy
With time running out, we had yet to have the roast suckling pig. We piled into the car and headed out to Mealhada. The parking lot for Meta dos Leitoes was pretty full and we had no reservation. They turn the tables fast it seems, because we were immediately seated. Bread came out, then the wine, followed by my favorite salad. We ordered the pork for three people instead of four, and it was a wise decision! This meal was a highly anticipated highlight of the trip and we were not disappointed. The skin on the pig was so crisp, I actually cut the roof of my mouth. No complaints were heard from me, though; thats what you get when you eat like a, well, pig! Moist, succulent pork, perfectly seasoned. But the skin was the best! A big bowl of home made potato chips was a surprising addition to the meal. The manager took us back into the kitchen for a quick look on a busy night. It looked like a morgue, with white-cloth draped carcasses waiting to be carved. I told him about Chowhound and he asked for the address.
Thanks to the friends I traveled with and thanks to Chowhound for all the good tips.