June 28, 2012
At the end of May, we returned from a trip to Portugal. We spent half the time in Lisbon, which included one day in Sintra, and the rest of the time on the Algarve coast, visiting many of the towns that dot the shoreline. It’s taking me forever to get through all the photographs, but I have at least finished the Algarve set, so here’s a small photo recap of the time spent in the Algarve, Portugal, with the focus being on, of course, the food! I tried to eat a different dish or food every single day or meal time, and I think I did a pretty fine job…
Our hotel in the Algarve was in a bizarre town, Armação de Pêra. It was almost entirely empty of people, and filled with pastel-coloured complexes and buildings, almost all of which looked to be abandoned. The beach right outside of our rooms in our hotel was beautiful though, and made up for the strangeness of the town.
The small “boardwalk” lining the street in front of the beach was also mostly abandoned, but still quaint, with small, quiet details that made the place end up being charming.
However empty and desolate the town was, there was some good food to be had! In fact, my favourite meal of the entire trip was had at a little restaurant packed with locals late one hot night. Where these locals worked and lived is beyond me, but there they were.
But first, our first meal there! I started with some fish soup, which is pretty much a staple in any restaurant that one may visit there. It was a tomato-based soup with chunks of cod. Flavourful, but I can’t say it’s very exciting. I’d rather skip the soup and fill up on other dishes.
My main that night was grilled fresh squid and prawns. Simply done, and I squeezed some lemon and drizzled a bit of piri piri sauce over it. It was a nice meal, great for a summer night near the ocean. It came with some lackluster boiled potatoes and a side of vegetables, but some olive oil and more piri piri sauce made it a bit more exciting.
The meal ended with a dessert of pudim flan, which is basically a crème caramel. Again, light and simple, it’s a pretty good dessert to end any meal. However, I think we needed a bit more dessert, so we headed down to a gelato place on the boardwalk and I enjoyed a dulce de leche scoop alongside a chocolate brownie scoop.
The next morning, we drove to Lagos and Dona Ana beach. The water, while chilly, was clear and vibrant, filled with greens and blues. The beach is lined with stone formations and sea caves and grottoes, making it quite spectacular.
We spent some time on the beach and took a small motorboat tour along the coast and into the grottoes, which lasted about one hour. It was a fantastic way to see the coastline and more of the hundreds of beaches that dot the coast. The man who took us on this tour also pointed out several formations (like the massive skull below) along the way, which proved to be quite humorous.
After a few hours on the beach, we did some hiking around up on the cliffs, looking down into the gorgegeous blue ocean.
This was all before lunch! Granted, we were eating lunch pretty late the whole time (sometimes, 3pm-4pm). We drove away from the beach and into the old village of Lagos, which was also just as deserted as the town where our hotel was. I was on the hunt for a good lunch spot, but there were some other sights that distracted me momentarily.
We finally stumbled upon a tiny resto with a terrasse outside, and I enjoyed a lunch of beer and grilled sardines. The sardines were plump, juicy, salty – just perfect!
In the late afternoon, we started driving back, but made a stop in Portimao to visit Praia da Rocha. Talk about pictuereqsue! And early evening is a stunning time to visit this beach.
We finished the day with my favourite meal – black pig ribs! These were so fatty, so tender, so perfect. They were especially wonderful with the almost full liter of red wine that came with them.
Next, the rest of the time in the Algarve, including Albufeira, a bone chapel and bifanas!
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