This is a sweet little tart with a special place in Portuguese gastronomic and even literary heritage. It makes up the list of Portuguese desserts prepared with cheese and rivals another giant of Portuguese pastry, the pastel de nata.

One cannot escape going into the store between Rua da Prata and Rua da Conceição. Queijadas Finas de Sintra simple recipe is composed of fresh cheese, sugar, egg yolks, flour and cinnamon. But it hides the greatness of a Portuguese tradition. This is also a recipe that has a special place in the Portuguese gastronomic, affective and even literary heritage: it is very much talked about in the pages of one of the landmarks of Portuguese literature, Os Maias, by the famous 18th century writer, Eça de Queiroz.

The shop at Baixa is relatively new and gives continuity to the tradition that began in 1903, when the Queijada became an obligatory presence at popular fairs and bullfights in Sintra and elsewhere, before becoming another tourist attraction for those who climb the mountain - and a staple in the Benfica games at Estádio da Luz, where they were first sold in Lisboa.

But this was only more than a century after they became known in the Sintra hills. Even there they already made up the list of Portuguese desserts prepared with cheese - being one of the main examples of a typical sweet from the coast of Portugal.  

Now, in the tourist epicentre of the capital, Lisboners and tourists from all over the world can savour the queijadas de Sintra, eternalised in the pages written by Eça de Queiroz. They can feel more local, joining Os Maias as one of the great pleasures of Portuguese culture.

By Álvaro Filho