We do....We did.An October 2019 Portuguese swansong

All photos:  Ellen Swandiak@hobnob magazine
Dear diary: Life changed on the 12th October - The thespian and I got married: two years in the planning from August 2017 and what we brought out of the box on 12th October 2019 surprised even ourselves.This is what we do and hospitality is what we have done for the last 25 years.What we achieved that day put paid to all the lows of our worst year on record but heralded the reassurance of a bright new start and optimistic future. Our swansong,our own wedding, was the best thing we could have ever done.We went out on a high.Street food was our mission and micro Glastonbury was what we produced.Talking of which Dear diary,I recall that it looked like we would have no sound system at the point the first guests were arriving.Things can go horribly wrong behind the machinery of wedding planning, but front of house no one need ever know,that is the beauty of it. Worthy farm it was not but worthy salt pans it certainly was.Months of putting together the perfect day was conducted with the precision of a military operation.Weekly online conferences ensured optimum success.

Planning and executing your own wedding sounds like a match made in heaven,Oh no Dear diary believe me it is ten times more stressful than being paid to put together a clients big day.The fact that the venue and ourselves were located in Portugal and the operations team were in the UK added to the stress factor. Well  in the words of the Divine Miss M "Yah got to have friends to make that day last long" and boy did we have the support of those friends, big time.These stalwarts rallied and when we floundered they rallied again.There was the added responsibilty of at least one third of our guest list having booked flights from far and wide, even New York and there had to be WOW factor to greet them on their arrival.But how wonderful is it,knowing that these friends you have not seen for many years are always there for you,no matter how near or how far,and in the same way you are always there for them.
The concept was in the capable hands 
of some of our favourite chefs and caterers.
Observing it on the day was like witnessing an episode of Masterchef where the contestants have to set up a field kitchen to cater for 60 or more.Fabio pulled out all the stops out to bring our guest tuna hot dogs, oysters and mini foie gras ice cream cones, and that was just for starters.Chef Marco gave us our all time favourite, octopus carpaccio, with grilled tuna,roasted vegetable and popcorn.Taking to the stage, Algarve Caterers Ricardo and Duarte brought us spring rolls followed by some pad thai show cooking and sticky pork bao buns.There was something for everyone, the pad thai could be chicken,prawn,or tofu.Allo allo!! We refreshed our guest palates with the alvarinho grape in the form of a 2018 "ALLO" from Soalheiro and for those who wanted something a little more serious there was vinho tinto Linhas Tortas (tortuous, crooked lines )reserva 2017.Speaking from my own point of view there were most certainly some tortuous crooked lines appearing by nightfall.
Later on our host Jorge (salmarim) entertained us all with his customary culinary theatre cooking berbigao ( small clams)from the Ria Formosa on a bed of hot salt. What a day it was,never to be forgotten, with all the best highlights captured from his drone in an amazing movie from Fergus.Thank you everyone for making our special day such an amazing one, from my hazy memory.I think sometimes the married couple need to revisit their wedding and see it from the guests perspective.


  1. So very much happiness to you both. I read your blog every week and I love it. Best wishes to you both from me. You live in Portugal, I live in the Mallee in Victoria, Australia,now in the grip of a dreadful drought. Love to hear about your food and your life.

  2. Thank you so much for following the blog.I hope you continue to enjoy it.I wish i had some water-wise words to get you through the drought.All the best.


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