The Jardim de Santa Bárbara (Garden of Santa Barbara) in Braga has an unexpected tie to a local pastry.
Viúvas is a custard tart made from egg yolks, sugar, and almonds. The recipe originated at the long-gone Convento dos Remédios in Braga. The recipe was forgotten, only to be recently revived by local bakeries.
Or that’s what I heard. I must’ve visited a dozen pastelarias in Braga that supposedly had Viúvas on the menu. None had it. A couple said “maybe tomorrow,” but tomorrow came and still no Viúvas.
The closest I came was at Pastelaria Veneza. They had Viuvus on a display stand under glass. I asked for it and they said it was just to look at, not for sale. Denied!
Jardim de Santa Bárbara (Garden of Santa Barbara)
The Garden of Santa Barbara is a lovely little formal garden in the middle of the city. The flowers are well maintained by the city with annual blooms regularly changed to keep the colors going all year.
The garden abuts the ruins of a Medieval arcade and behind that is 14th century Gothic eastern wing of the Episcopal Palace. The palace is currently part of the University of Moinho and isn’t open to the public.
The centerpiece of the garden is the Fountain of Santa Barbara. Originally, the fountain resided in the Convento dos Remédios. Yes, it’s the same convent where the elusive Viúvas pastry was invented. Before the convent was destroyed (there’s a theater where the convent once stood), the fountain was removed and is now enjoyed by everyone who visits the garden.
I like to imagine the nuns enjoying a Viúvas while sitting near the fountain in the convent’s cloister.
About the Author
Brent Petersen is the Editor-in-Chief of Destination Eat Drink. He currently resides in Setubal, Portugal. Brent has written the novel “Truffle Hunt” (Eckhartz Press) and the short story collection “That Bird.” He’s also written dozens of foodie travel guides to cities around the world on Destination Eat Drink, including in-depth eating and drinking guides in Portugal to Lisbon, Porto, Sintra, Monsaraz, and Batalha. Brent’s podcast, also called Destination Eat Drink, is available on all major podcasting platforms and is distributed by the Radio Misfits Podcast Network.