Monday, 30 July 2018

If you hurry you´ll be late


"Salt, sand and sitting around eating sardines and custard tarts: in the Eastern Algarve you will find yourself exhausted by doing absolutely nothing. Not a bad way to appreciate the good life".Take it from one who knows

Amid the sunscreen-smeared hullabaloo that is August, the question arises: Is there an alternative Algarve? A less-trod Algarve? An Algarve where a bit of serenity and the flavour of the past have been preserved? Lush valleys, meandering hillsides and hilltop villages offering some of the most  under valued and understated countryside.
the answer is yes,the East Algarve.
Portugal’s Algarve is almost too popular these days, so one needs to head to its little-visited eastern end? Here the long white beaches are secluded and the towns and villages are sleepier, but do not worry there’s no shortage of gelados and pastry shops.Like France and Spain, Portugal’s beach-filled southern coastline has long been considered the country’s summer playground. And while the west side has enjoyed the lion’s share of the tourist trade since the early 70s, the east side, stretching from  Faro to the Spanish border, is far more relaxing and way way cooler.
This is where the smarter Europeans, mainly the Italians and French,(before prime minister António Costa bows to Macron´s request and pulls the plug on their golden card, Portugal’s ‘non- habitual resident’ tax regime ) are buying (and renting out) their summer properties, and where hip expats are opening boutique hotels and hot restaurants. The sleepiness of the tiny towns and empty beaches weeds out the people who can’t sit in a chair for more than 10 minutes. The common denominator here, for both locals and tourists, is an innate ability to appreciate  a life less ordinary.

Sun, sea, authentic experiences, small miracles of gastronomy,for me this is the essence of The East Algarve summer.Day after day one culinary treat follows another. The East Algarve summer is full of buzzing markets overflowing with flavours and aromas; wild greens,buxom beef steak tomatoes, fragrant fruits, legumes, vegetables, cheese, warm bread, extra virgin olive oil, fresh fish and seafood, homemade produce. Every corner of the East Algarve has its own gastro-microclimate. Every village and town,a recipe and a story to tell. Whether you are walking along the beach with a slice of juicy watermelon, or indulging in a gourmet meal made with local produce, whether you’re dipping a slice of bread into pure olive oil or eating an oyster straight from the sea or demolishing a dessert of smoky carob ice cream with a reverence for Algarvian flavours,the delicious flavours will delight your taste buds.

Must have local specialities
Amêijoas – Ria  formosa clams
Raia alhada-Olhao
Octopus salad Santa Luzia,the 'capital of octopus'
'Bife atum Tavira'
Estupeta Vila Real de santo Antonio
“Estupeta” is a particularly interesting local speciality of raw tuna, thinly sliced and served with salad. The best choice of tuna dishes is available in restaurants in Vila Real de Santo António and Monte Gordo and especially in August when the annual “Rota de Atum”or tuna gastronomic festival celebrates the region’s much-loved fish.

Estopeta de atum  500g de atum escuro de barrica,da parte do lombo  ( 500g tuna.The dark brown part of the tuna loin) I large onion 2 firm tomatoes 1 green or red pepper or both 2 medium boiled eggs Olives Juice of I lemon 300ml extra virgin olive oil 125 ml white wine vinegar salt and pepper to taste lettuce leaves Clean the tuna and soak it overnight in cold water. Change the water once or twice. After soaking, cut into small pieces of around 2 cm.Wash them again in cold water and squeeze well.
Peel and slice the onion into little dice, do the same to the pepper (green or red) and clean 1 tomato, cut it into little cubes also.
In a bowl, pour all the ingredients, ie, tuna, onions, peppers and tomatoes, season to taste with salt, pepper, olive oil and vinegar and mix.
In a salad bowl or platter, place a few lettuce leaves, cleaned, and on top, place the tuna mixture in a pile or as desired. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze over the tuna.Keep the estopeta chilled in the fridge for a good two hours before serving.
Garnish around with slices of the other half of the lemon, another tomato, egg, olives and, if desired, onion rings.


.....And when all is said and done and you are eager to take home those flavours, pop in to Ex Libris Gourmet,my favourite deli stuffed to the rafters with beautifully packaged sweet tomato jams, exotic liquors, tinned sardines,artisan flor de sal, wines and olive oils. “The concept is food and design,” Owner Tiago Centeno, who is yet another refugee from the rat race. After 10 years in the Portuguese military,he and his wife moved to Tavira “because it’s more quiet and peaceful” than other parts of the region.I rest my case.

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