Manteiga Boua, Almancil’s new artisan butter

Butter made with fresh and seasonal products and no preservatives

A new brand of artisan butter, Manteiga Boua (a play on words, meaning ‘good butter’) has been launched in Almancil by chef Nuno Bergonse and his wife Raquel.

The base ingredients come from the Azores, but it is at the Manteiga Boua factory in Almancil where, every day, several flavours of artisan butter are made.

The brand was created during the Covid-19 pandemic when the couple decided to fill a gap in the restaurant market.

“Restaurants like to invest in quality and seek unique products. And first impressions are important. If we are served an excellent butter with a unique flavour and original format, that will make all the difference. We will know we are in a restaurant that cares and pays attention to detail,” the chef told Barlavento newspaper.

Nuno and Raquel Bergonse

“We wanted a quality product, different to the butter served in small plastic containers. That is how we thought of finding an artisanal alternative which stood out from everything that exists today on the market,” he added.

The couple carried out laboratory and consumer tests and developed the packaging throughout 2019. By March 2020, the first flavours were being created.

“We had several ideas. When you start a creative journey, the mind flies high, but we needed to put the brakes on. We restricted our creations to seven varieties: fleur de sel, roasted garlic and thyme, algae, truffles, dried tomato and basil, chorizo, and marinated olives,” said the chef, adding that the goal is to “taste the flavour of the butter and the other ingredients” in each variety.

Manteiga Boua, Almancil’s new artisan butter

As he explained, the flavours of their butters could have gone even further, but they risked reaching a point where “we wouldn’t know if we were eating butter or pâté.”

“Reaching a balance was always a concern,” Nuno Bergonse said.

Another key aspect that the couple considered was the origin, quality and freshness of the products used.

“I believe less is more, and more authentic. The base is the butter from the Azores; the fleur de sel, thyme and basil are from the Algarve; the chorizo is from Fundão and the algae is from Aveiro. In other words, more than 95% of our ingredients are national. The truffles are the only ingredient we have to import,” said Raquel Bergonse, who holds a degree in Hotel Management.

Each portion of butter takes around four hours before it is packaged. The whole process is carried out by hand and no preservatives or flavour enhancers are added, meaning the shelf life is shorter (60 days) than other butters on the market.

Environmental awareness and sustainability are also core concepts for Manteiga Boua.

“We don’t use plastic. Every box has a certificate. They are made with paper, labelled with food colouring and the cardboard is recycled,” said Raquel, adding that while it makes the process more difficult, the couple wants to stand out not only for the butter’s “quality and flavour” but also its “packaging and presentation”.

Although the brand was launched at the start of the pandemic, it has been “very well received” by clients. “Just in the first months of the year, Manteiga Boua attracted demand levels beyond our expectations,” said Raquel Bergonse.

The plan for the near future is to develop new flavours and launch limited editions.

“For example, during the citrus season, we could make lemon butter,” said the chef.

Manteiga Boua is available in the Algarve at Apolónia and Intermarché supermarkets and some gourmet stores, with prices starting at €3.50 for 100 grams.

Original article written by Maria Simiris for Barlavento newspaper.