There are many fishing ports on the Algarve coast, and so in the kitchen the fresh fish and seafood are dominating. Santa Luzia – octopus capital, is supplying nearby towns with fresh octopus.
In Algarve with daily fishing trips bringing in huge amounts of tuna, sole, swordfish, bream and sardines and seafood: prawns, octopus, crabs, kalmary, clams, oysters, crayfish, squid.
In the Portuguese kitchen the garlic is essential and used very often to many dishes. Piri-piri ( red hot chilli pepper sauce) is also very popular spice.
The best of Portuguese food is prepared with simple cooking methods, and strongly reflects its region and proud past. The Portuguese food is simple and excellent.
The most typical regional dish is being prepared from dried, salted codfish bacalhau, what tastes much, much better than it sounds.
You will not understand Portugal unless you partake of bacalhau, and unless you fall instantly and irretrievably in love with it you can never say you’ve truly been there. It is bound up with myth, history and mealtimes, including everyday meals and the most important celebrations on the calendar, in daily life and how many ways there are to cook it. Every day is good day for bacalhau and it seems there is at least one recipe for every day of the year. The owner of the restaurant in Santa Luzia says that he has at his disposal a numer of 1000 recipes for preparing cod.
Cataplana is Algarvian speciality. The name derives from the resembling cooper dish, a sealed clam shaped vesse (cataplana). The lid closed tightly prevents the leakage of tastes and aromas of dishes. Dishes are being served to the table in this pot what additionally lets hold back big temperature of the dish. The best cataplanas are prepared from the seafood and combination of fish with peppers, potatoes or rice, cooked in wine, garlic and herbs.
In restaurants dinners are usually served in 12:00 – 15:00, suppers from 19:00 to 22:00. Snacks and little dishes are availablr all the day in bars, cafés and bakeries.
The Portuguese food is excellent, fresh and inexpensive.
Traditional Portuguese restaurants usually offer a wide selection of fish dishes served with boiled potatoes and vegetables or with the salad.
A lot of fish is being served as grilled. Grilled sardines have tasty smell and well worth trying.
The most often on the menu in restaurants are: cod with onion – bacalhau a brás, cod with potatoes and boiled eggs – bacalhau a gomes desá and cod with the cream – bacalhau com nata.
Octopus is being served in restaurants to a lot of ways: in salads, grilled, in spices, in a savoury rice (arroz de polvo).
In restaurants cataplana is normally for 2 people to share and well worth trying.
Also commonly on the menu are a range of omelettes, salads and some meat dishes, like thin pork slices served with a creamy mushroom sause or chicken piri-piri.
The prices are very reasonable, the food is good and the portions are generous.
– Starter – Entrada
‘Couvert’ is the traditional start to the meal and normally consists of fresh bread, olives, sardine paté, chesese and carrots that have been lightly cooked and marinated in garlic, olive oil and spices.
– Dessert – Sobremesa
On the menu is almost always listed pudim flan créme brûlèe – créme caramel , molotov – kind of the fluffy meringue, arroz doce – creamy, custard rice with the cinnamon and chocolate mousse. The speciality of a region are cakes and sweets are from figs and almonds. Cakes are usually very sweet. Certtainly the best are pastela de nata – creamy, custard tart.. Fig cake or almond tart are also highly recommended !.
Drinks of Algarve
Wine, water, beer and coffee are Portugal’s favourite liquids.
Portuguese coffee is excellent, inexpensive, and arguably among the finest in the world. Regardless of where you order uma bica/ um café (short black or espresso) across the country, it is of a consistently high standard.
Alcohol in general tends to be very reasonably priced in the Algarve (in fact, probably considered cheap compared to most countries), with bottles of wine from as little as 1 euro in the supermarkets.
A lot of the wine sold in the Algarve comes from other parts of Portugal (for example from Bairrada in the north, Estremadura near Lisbon and Alentejo) but the Algarve does also produce its own wine, most of which comes from Lagoa, Portimão and Tavira areas. Most restaurants will only have Portuguese wines on their wine list.
The ‘house’ wine (vinho da casa) in white (branco) and red (tinto) is nearly always a local Portuguese wine and good value and very drinkable. You can also opt ‘vinho verde’ which is a young ‘green’ wine, slightly sparkling, light and refreshing and goes very well with fish and chicken dishes, or rosé – Mateus rosé being the best known.
If you prefer to drink beer (cerveja), there are really just three national brands that you will become familiar with: Sagres, Super Bock and Cristal. Portuguese beer is both strong and inexpensive.
After the meal you may want to try a glass of port – Portugal best known drink. Produced from a blend of wines. Porto is available in ‘ruby’ (a young and full-bodied sweet port), ‘towny’ (a ligher port, best served chilled) and ‘white’ (which is dry and better served over ice as an aperitif).
The Algarve is also famous for Medronho. – brandy like spirit, which is made by fermenting the berries from the fruit of the Medronho tree, also called strawberry tree, for a few months and then distilling it. Other brandies to try: bagaçeira (grape skin spirit), aquardente de figo (fig spirit) or ginjinha (cherry spirit). Algarve is also home to amarguinha – an almond liqueur.