Flavours of the Algarve
Fruits of the ocean and bounty of the land, 10 Algarve ingredients that make the mouth water . ..
Portugal, and particularly the Algarve, now produces some of the most exquisite oysters in Europe. The Ria Formosa and the Ria de Alvor are two of the locations where these bivalves thrive. Taking only one to one-and-a-half years to fully grow, compared to four in France, thanks to the ideal conditions, these oysters are mostly produced for export to France.
The Rolls Royce of Portuguese seafood, the scarlett prawn is big and extremely tasty. Baked, fried or grilled, to garnish rice or cataplana, the bright red carabineiro provide an unforgettable sensory experience. With its elongated head and a hornlike spike which protrudes from its head, its meat is sweet and of a delicate texture. Carabineiros are best served sliced down the middle and very quickly grilled.
Mistakenly called the "seafood of the poor” (each kilo can cost more than 50 euros when the sea is rough), the goose barnacle (percebe) is one of the most sought after Algarvean delicacies. Collected by percebeiros who risk their lives climbing down cliffs to grab them, they are an ugly crustacean eaten by squeezing its tip and ripping off a dinosaur like claw to reveal its tender flesh.
A natural antibiotic, Monchique honey is produced by the Apis mellifera iberica bees. This honey has a varied composition due to the rich flora in the region, ranging from lavender and cistus to heather and eucalyptus, producing organic scented honey. It is also mixed with medronho (local fire water), lemon and cinnamon to make the popular melosa drink, known to help soothe colds and flus.
Many are fooled into thinking the best oranges come from Spain. In fact, the Algarve's precious fruit is sweeter and juicier than its neighbouring cousins. A reliable source of vitamin C, they are pressed for their delicious juice and made into delicacies and cakes. Their natural sweetness comes from the unique soil they grow in and the year-long Algarvean sunshine.