The Sweet Architecture of Vila Real
If Vila Real were represented by a café, it would have to be the Pastelaria Gomes. A patisserie, as such, which could even lose its charm as a Café. But how to lose this charm if it was precisely because of the seduction of its own confectionery, linked to the main building in the historic centre – one of the highlights of the Municipality as far as Architecture is concerned, and built in the 1950s – that this confectionery became the embassy for the city in places such as France, Switzerland and Germany? This is also thanks to the journeys made by the sweet confectionery in the company of Portuguese immigrants. Savoury confectionery such as the Covilhete, made of puff pastry and minced meat. We may be able to get the recipe but we will never have the almost centenary way of making them, along with the Tocinho-do-céu (literally Bacon from heaven) almond pastries, better known as Cristas or Velvet Pudding. It is no secret, but rather competence transmitted from generation to generation, from Manuel dos Santos Gomes, who started the patisserie in 1925, returning to Portugal after spending some time in countries like Brazil and Angola. The growth of the city has accompanied the growth of the Pastelaria Gomes, or vice versa, and it is therefore natural that a Tea Room has opened followed by a Biergarten, to complement and diversify the services offered to the city itself. Friends, from the oldest to the youngest, take advantage of the aforementioned Architecture of the space, as well as the decoration and furniture, which maintains the original outline – with only the counter being redesigned in the 1990s, as a social and cultural meeting point – under sumptuous lamps, glass windows, mirrors and a bust of the founder. However, if the bust is of Manuel Santos Gomes, it was his wife (Maria Conceição de Sousa Magalhães Gomes) who reinvented the confectionary. For example, the famous Covilhetes mentioned above are richer because of the puff pastry introduced by her. If you think we have written too much about Covilhetes, you should know that, along with the Mateus Palace and its Mateus Rosé, these pastries are another classic image of a city which will never miss out, such as Gomes, on the cafe route and the future.