Flavours and Knowledge

Mesão Frio


Vila Marim biscuit

A genuine rectangular sweet, made from wheat flour, sugar, water, eggs, cinnamon and the traditional secret handed down from generation to generation, which is guaranteed to sell out at fairs, festivals and pilgrimages in the north, in pamphlets equivalent to the size of the tray on which it was baked.

Traditional dishes

Like all Douro cuisine, which is rich and varied, Mesão Frio is no exception. Were we not a country of Mediterranean flavours influenced by the spices and ingredients brought by our discoverers.

Goat with rice and potatoes, roasted in a wood-fired oven, have taken centre stage in Mesão Frio’s cuisine, which, along with marrâ, reflect the history of this town and delight its visitors.

Basketry, cooperage and lace from Barqueiros

Using the materials that nature provided, these people created various handicrafts, moulding each object to their agricultural and domestic needs, combining mastery and ingenuity with skill and spirituality, turning each piece into a true work of art.

In Mesão Frio, you’ll find the art of basketry, cooperage, embroidery and lace from Barqueiros.


In times when natural materials predominated over synthetic materials, the storage and transport of food and goods was carried out using basketry.

Mesão Frio presents itself to us as a province with an accentuated rural character, where rural labour is an essential part of the specificity of its people. And this is how these people developed an artistic vein, based on the pressing need to respond to the demands of the environment and its exchange relationships. The “vintage basket”, characteristic of the Douro region, emerged with a certain typicality. In a Herculean effort, man carries it on his back, carrying more than 50 kilos of grapes, and nature compensates him with a smooth and divine nectar, unrivalled anywhere else in the world.


As Mesão Frio is a wine-growing region, its culture is characterised by the process of making wine. It goes through various stages, from the harvest to storage, which requires technique and ingenuity, and contributes greatly to the recognised quality of the famous nectar of the gods. The oak wood is carefully chosen, cut, demolished and customised to the desired shape. The curved boards, or staves, form the body, the iron rims are fitted, and the cylindrical, bulbous receptacle is born, the perfect cradle for a perfect creation – the kites or similar vessels. Of different sizes and sizes, barrels, casks and vats naturally preserve the wine, keeping its characteristics unchanged, or even accentuating them to their utmost perfection, such as the most vivid example of Port Wine, carefully produced in the Douro Demarcated Region. Utilitarian in nature, stave vessels also fulfil a decorative function, combining rusticity with functionality.

Barqueiros lace

Attention is drawn to the famous Barqueiros lace, especially the characteristic “panos de gancho”. In addition to the usual lace needle, these cloths are made with hairpins, which are used to hold the women’s traditional pull. The hands and fingers, delicate or crude, swing between the threads in a rhythmic whirl, creating works of sublime taste and extreme skill.


Castanhetas are a handmade musical instrument, usually made from fig wood, the most suitable for reproducing their sound. They are made up of two pieces of wood joined at the bottom, with two spaces where the thumb and forefinger are inserted to connect the two sides, which produce sound when they collide. They are considered an idiophone instrument because they produce sound through their own vibration. They are always played by men and usually accompany the dances ‘Chula Rabela’ and ‘Fui ao Douro às Vindimas’ from the Barqueiros Songbook and Folklore.

The origin of this traditional instrument is historical. Memory tells us that they began to be used on the Rabelo boats by sailors and arraisers who lived in the parish of Barqueiros, to liven up the stops during the transport of the Port wine barrels to the cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia. The Castanhetas produced sound to indicate where the boats were located on foggy days, preventing them from crashing.

This instrument, exclusive to the parish of Barqueiros, in the municipality of Mesão Frio, has not been made anywhere else in the world. Castanhetas vary in value depending on their size, materials used and construction time. Folklore tradition is very much present in these pieces, with the characters dressed in traditional Rancho costumes, with the typical blouse, scarf and baskets on the women and the traditional hat and waistcoat on the men.

Share on: