From Lisbon to Algarve

The mythic EN 2 Nacional Road

Route 66 in USA

Part two

The begining of EN 2 Chaves, Northen Portugal

As promised, I will continue to travel with you, virtually though, from the capital of Portugal to the province of the Algarve. This time using an iconic road , the Nacional 2 marked as E, from ‘’Estrada- road’’ and N from Nacional- National. Believe me that it is the profile of our real country, where you’ll feel like diving into a big adventure, mostly because you are available to discover by learning.

A route for several experiences!

I’ve picked this itinerary to those who are not anxious to arrive, may not have children on board ( honestly I do think they will put you anxious within the first 100 miles…) and finally, to the ones who love history! As I always say, sometimes you need to know a bit of the past to better understand the present!

The EN 2 (or simply N2) – Estrada de Portugal is a national road that integrates the national road network of Portugal, connecting Faro to Chaves. It is the third longest road in the world, with 738.5 km, just after Route 66 in the United States and Route 40 in Argentina. It was instituted in the year 1945.

The section of the EN2 merges with its own history, with many segments already being the main Roman roads that crossed Lusitânia.
Over time, the main roads were improved and linked to each other and until the end of the century. XIX, much of what is now the EN2 was already Estrada Real.
The road has gained notoriety in recent years after being chosen by several international magazines as one of the longest and most interesting roads in Europe.

For this day i need you to leave Lisboa via Vasco da Gama bridge. Beautiful piece of engineering!! You will have to cross the country from the coast to the inland, towards Spain, but not necessarily going all the time close to the border afterwards. But first thing first: are you a paper lover or more addicted to technology? Part of the adventure is to get a passport and have it stamped along the way. No, you’re not crossing a border and there is no passport control anymore between Spain and Portugal. I am talking about an App or a real paper passport that is for free in most of the tourism offices along the way. The app is very handy as the tourist office may close at lunch time or as early as 17/18 hrs. However, I prefer the passport to keep as a souvenir.

Tips for the journey:
• Use the time to enjoy the landscape, to meet people,the spots and of course the gastronomy.Try is the watchword!
• Visit the small local museums where the stamps are delightful!
• Buy local handicraft, unbeatable on quality or prices.
• Remember we are southern people..sometimes we close the business between 1 pm and 3pm.

Now it is time to hit the road!

Driving on the Vasco da Gama bridge means you will access to the A12 motorway.This is your road up to the point of seeing signs to exit to A6 ( exit 5 ) to Espanha, Évora, Santarém.It is the town of Évora that i want you to visit, regardeless it is not located on the EN2. And Why? Simply because it is a world’s heritage town according to UNESCO and it is just there a few miles away from Montemor-o-Novo where you could have started the famous route. However, you can also reach it later, coming down from this special town.After one hour and thirty minutes you are there and you won’t regret.

Évora roman temple Diana

Tips to visit Évora
• Park the car outside walls;
• Take good shoes to walk for approximately 2 hours – flat though
• If you want the visit to be the most informative please call for a licensed guide,it is worth the money-
Telm: +351 963 702 392

Visits not to be missed
• Cathedral
• Roman Temple
• The bones chapel
• S. Francisco church
• The Moorish doors

Restaurants to try regional dishes
• O Fialho – Black pig, shark soup, etc €€€
• Botequim da Mouraria – up to six people only, best tapas €€
• Vinarium Wine & tapas vegetarian and vegan options, gluten free €€

And now it’s time to continue your way down to the south.Best way and more scenic is to go down on N 380 towards Nossa Senhora da Tourega and join the N2 in Alcaçovas, unless your super interested in visiting the famous Grutas do Escoural, Escoural cave. It contains several cave paintings and rock carvings that date back more than 13,000 years. One-hour guided visits help illuminate some of the mysteries of these faintly visible works.
For safety and preservation reasons, the visits to Escoural Cave are under restricting conditioning. The Cave can be visited EXCLUSIVELY by PREVIOUS APPOINTMENT at the Escoural Interpretation Center, preferably with 24 hours or more in advance. The visits are conducted within Tuesday to Saturday except the last Saturday each month and holidays. Groups cannot exceed 10 visitors maximum.

Visits at 10:30 and 14:30 CONTACTOS / CONTACTS Centro Interpretativo do Escoural (para marcação das visitas / appointments): 266 857 000
Direção Regional de Cultura do Alentejo: 266 769 800

In this case, you’ll need to go back from Évora to Montemor-o-Novo using the N114 and the A6 and drive down for 40 minutes.


At this point you have to check the distance from your hotel.You are 211 kms away from Faro where the EN 2 ends on the kilometer 738, and probably you want to stop at Ferreira do Alentejo in order to visit an unique church ‘’Capela do Calvário’’ or the church of the stones, dating back to the 17th century.
And what to say about Almodovar? Genuine people, i’m sure that’s what you’re going to find, as all over the province you have been traveling, the beautiful Alentejo.If you have time i suggest a brief walk, depending how hot it can be, and visit the parish church.Otherwise , there is on the way down of this same EN2 a lovely fresh natural pool called ‘’Fonte da Seiceira’’at a place called Ameixial.Wou, so inviting for the heat of the region!!

Along the way you’ll notice some view points that deserve a break not only from the wheel but to admire the splendid views. Alto da Arroteia is this kind of place. Just slow down there for a while.And by the way, you’re in the Algarve right now, near the town of S.Bras de Alportel, a very important town in the past as now, for the production of cork.
Your journey is nearly finished. I will be more than happy if you call me when you arrive as i live two steps far from the roundabout where the road is ending. I will leave you here some suggestions in order to visit my town, Faro :

The end of National 2- Faro

What to visit
• The Cathedral
• Carmo’s church
• Municipal Museum
• Main shopping street (wonderful pedestrian work)
• Boat tour in Ria Formosa, a Natural Reserve

Where to stay
• Eva Senses Hotel
• Aqua Ria Boutique Hotel
• Faro downton studios

Where to eat

. Mercearia S. Pedro
• L’osteria

• A tasca do João
• Petisqueira 3 em pipa
• Paparrazi
• O Gimbras

Stay Safe!

And wait for the third and last option to drive down from Lisbon next week!

From Lisbon to Algarve – 10 top places you should not miss!

Part one

Driving down from Lisbon – Vasco da Gama bridge

Driving down to a sunny, relaxed and unforgetable holiday in the Algarve?

This itineraries are for you, if you are the kind of person who does not like to miss anything special on the way. Also, they are tailored for families too, as it is allways dificult to fit interesting visits that can please grand parents, mum and dad as well as the youngsters, far from beeing keen at history or museums during the holiday period!

Every week, for the next 3 weeks, i will leave you with a different road book to reach your destination feeling like mission accomplished!

But before you choose the right route, let me tell you that it is always a good idea to seat down around a table and speak about the pros and cons of each itinerary with the participants.I’m afraid even on holiday we should not ignore some planning.Time is money as well  and mostly holiday is a precious time of the year where you have placed all your good vibes.

Step 0ne
You have to decide first, before you take April 25th bridge or Vasco da Gama one. Yes they converge at same point but i’m leaving with you 3 possible ways and the more time you save on the road, the better you enjoy the outdoors.

Step two
Remember to use the ‘’via verde’’ an automatic pay system that all rental cars are supplied with ( extra charge, naturally) . On the way out of Lisbon you won’t be charged by using the bridge, therefore there are 265 kms to cover up to Albufeira (where the high way A2 ends) and that is toll, which will come up to €22.80 as i’m writing this notes, August 2020, in a small car.Prices change according to the size of the car. However, this is the fastest itinerary and you’ll be asked to exit here and there for some visits.Important: if by mistake you missed the green line Via Verde, remember to pick up a ticket when entering on the other lanes.This is needed to charge the corresponding miles of highway you have used, by the time you exit!

Step three
If you would drive straight, at the normal allowed speed of 120 kms/hour you would reach the Algarve’s coast 2 hours and 25 minutes later.In this case you won’t since there are places you don’t want to miss.There are 5 gas stations along the way, almost every 40 kms so no chances to dye hungry or thirsty. Prices tend to be higher indeed.

So, let’s hit the road!

Itinerary one- Western ways
Nature & Wild life

This is one of my favourites. For many years when my son was younger we did not miss a summer visit to the ‘’Costa Vicentina’’. As we live in the Algarve we used to do this road up instead, proceeding then to Lisbon where we have some relatives.
If you’re traveling with children there are two moments they are going to love:crossing with the car on a ferry in Setúbal and visiting Badoca Park.I think this can please everyone, anyway, regardless the age.

For this day you would do better taking April 25th bridge. Now, these are the guidelines:

Exit in Palmela and visit the ancient castle .Magnific views!!

View from Palmela Castle

I know you’re driving but someone has to do the Bob, why not stopping at a winery and join a wine experience? Experts say the morning is the ideal moment to have a clean palate to assimilate the real flavor of a good wine. Here are some of the choices:

The next destination is Setúbal. If it is closer to lunch time now, please do not go any further. You’re at the best place to try ‘’caldeirada’’, fish stew, and ‘’choco frito’’, fried ink fish.Nova Taberna and Ratoeira are my favourite restaurants, price wise a good deal.

Now it’s time to give yourself a break and leave the wheel. Afterall, it was not really a long mileage but the wine, the lunch, you start understanding why we, southern people, talk so much about siesta.The best way to go down the coast towards Algarve is to try and keep an eye on the water as much as you can.This itinerary helps you to rest a bit and eventually to enjoy a show, live, if the dearst dolphins from Sado bay decide to escort you from Setúbal to Tróia. The Atlantic ferries is a reliable company that provides you the crossing every half an hour. Please do not forget that due to the pandemic times, masks are mandatory!

Dolphins in Sado River Photo from Nautica Press

And there you are, at one of the longuest sandy beach areas in western Portugal!If you believe you have time to stop and refresh, why not, go for it! You’re 3 hours far from the Algarve and with 7 places to see before you end there, but this is a full day experience.Remember, TIME IS PRECIOUS and that is priceless!

The distance between Tróia and Santiago do Cacém , our next discovery, is 83 kms which can take one hour and seventeen minutes. What is so special over there that can take you out of the car again? Well, have you ever thought about doing a safari in Africa sometime? If yes, Portugal has an open trailer that rides in a 90-hectare safari park with 600 animals from around the world.Name? Badoca Park. It has been opened since 1999 , It’s a great ride to do with the kids, there are attractions with explanations that make all the difference for them.

Safari in Badoca Park

Safari is very interesting for everyone and on hot days the rafting is refreshing, bring extra clothes for everyone, as they will get wet.
There is a restaurant, but there are many places to picnic, great option.

For keen walkers Porto Covo is one of Europe’s best known long-distance trails – the Rota Vicentina. This runs from Santiago do Cacém , just north of Sines, to Cabo Sao Vicente near Sagres covering over 450 km of track. One particular section begins in Porto Côvo, the Trilho dos Pescadores (Fishermen’s Trail). As the name suggests this route follows the coast passing Vila Nova de Milfontes, Almograve and Zambujeira before continuing into the Algarve with spectacular scenery en route.So, these are 3 other places to add up tom your top 10 sure they are open regarding the instability of the present times.

Around 33 kms is the distance till Porto Côvo. If the archetypal traditional Portuguese fishing village still exists then maybe Porto Côvo is this. Even the name translates as port of the fishing net. A jumble of whitewashed cottages, cobbled streets and pretty squares perched on the low cliff tops of the Alentejo coast between Sines and Vila Nova de Milfontes.

The straight line distance between Vila Nova de Milfontes and Odeceixe is 32.63 km, but the driving distance is 43 km.

It takes 38 minutes to get from Vila Nova de Milfontes to Odeceixe that lies on the south bank of the Ribeira de Seixe, which here forms the border between the Algarve and Alentejo.It is a MUST SEE place so i recomend to stop somehwere, overlooking the water and have a good sagres or superbock beer.You will not regret!

Now it is time to check the GPS to see how far you are from your hotel.You’re 55 kms far from Lagos, if it was the choice for your holiday. In this case i would say leave the road and stop at Praia do Amado or Amorosa before proceeding to the Algarve’s coast. Breathtaking!!

Thank you for traveling, event hough virtually, with Precious Time.Hope you’ve enjoyed it to the fullest and wish you an unforgetable holiday!

Hope to see you in a close future!

Carob bean- healthy food. Algarve’s black gold !

Hi everyone, hope you’re well.

Today, as promised, i am bringing to you some information related to a fruit that grows mostly in southern Portugal where i live.The tree is typical in the southern Portuguese region of the Algarve, where the tree is called alfarrobeira, and the fruit alfarroba. Looking at it hanging from the trees, you may have a first wrong impression: how come the portuguese grow green beans in trees? They also may look like vanilla beans but slightly bigger. Well, right now it is a product that may bring some extra wealth to a region as the Algarve, where tourism plays the main role as far as economy is concerned. Only 3% is the percentage of the importance of agriculture.

What is it ?

But, what is the history behind this interesting legume? Yes, Legumes produce a botanically unique type of fruit – a simple dry fruit that develops from a simple carpel and usually dehisces (opens along a seam) on two sides, that’s why this is considered a legume.

Legumes are notable in that most of them have symbiotic nitrogen-fixing bacteria in structures called root nodules. For that reason, they play a key role in crop rotation.

It grows to about 15 m (50 ft) in height and has dark, evergreen, pinnate leaves. The small, red flowers have no petals. The fruit is a brown, leathery pod about 10 to 30 cm (4 to 12 in) long and contains a syrupy to biscuity flesh of an agreeable sweet taste, in which lie a number of seeds. The pods are edible and are often used for livestock feed. The seeds, which are remarkably uniform in size and weight, are thought to have been the original standard carat weight used by jewellers and goldsmiths.

Where does it grow?

Archaeological evidence suggests that these peas must have been grown in the eastern Mediterranean and Mesopotamian regions at least 5,000 years ago.

Carob grows well anywhere that citrus is grown, and it prefers dry climates that receive more than 30 centimeters of rainfall–ideal mediterranean-type climates.

Portugal is the largest producer of carob in the world and more than half of its production is exported. In addition to its socio-economic value, the historic value of this century-old culture is added, particularly striking in the Algarve.

What is it used for?

Every part of the fruit is able to be consumed.

The Italians use the seed to make rosary beads. In Israel they have an annual Carob Festival. This seed was also used as a weight measure for gold and gems because seeds are very even in weight.

That use has come down through the centuries as the ‘caret weight’ (should be carob weight) and 0. 5 carob seeds equals one gram. A caret weight .02 of a gram.

Sometimes you may find it in shape of a chocolate bar, in health food shops . In English, it is also known as “St John’s bread”, as well as “locust tree, because the pods were once thought to have been the “locusts” that were eaten by John the Baptist in the Wilderness.

Apart from the health benefits obtained by substituting Carob for Cocoa and synthetic sweeteners in our diet, Carob also has excellent nutritional value. Along with up to 80% protein, it contains Magnesium, Calcium, Iron, Phosphorus, Potassium Manganese, Barium, Copper, Nickel and the vitamins A, B, B2, B3, and D. It also has medicinal uses including the treatment of coughs and diahhroea.

A significant part of these applications are related to gum extracted from locust bean seed: an additive of biological origin to which no adverse effects are known, E-410, used as a thickener, stabilizer, emulsifier or gelling agent in medicines and foods, including formulas for lactating women, but also in textile and paper printing or cosmetics, for example.

The carob pulp, crushed and roasted, gives rise to carob flour (or carob powder), now recognized as a substitute for cocoa. The carob fart is used to make dozens of food products, including bread, sweets or ice cream.

The crushed are also used in the production of beverages, from liqueurs to spirits and even craft beer. They are also raw material for animal feed, one of its oldest applications, although today it is used in new food solutions for pets .In Faro, where I live, there are some new industries opening up to the use of this special fruit in this field, so thinking already in every pet lovers.

Something new and tasty, apart from healthy to try on your next visit to the Algarve!

Portuguese ‘’Azulejo’’ – Hand painted tiles A precious legacy from the past

A big hug to all of you hoping you’re well and safe!

Allow me today to introduce you to something else we can call Precious Art: The portuguese azulejo.Many are the visitors who believe that the word derives from the color in which most of them are painted : blue , in portuguese language azul, so a-zu-le-jo. Nothing more wrong!
Actually, do you happen to know why we tend to say royal blood is blue? And why the royalty has been side by side with church linked to the use of this expensive work ? That is what i am going to explain, making a very long story short, of course, since it is all going back to one thousand and three hundred years ago.

So, once upon a time, the region where Portugal was born, was invaded, dominated and developed by different civilizations that left a deep mark, sometimes deep enough to be part of our environment nowadays. We are still using some utensils or technics introduced to the Iberian Península on roman times, cartaginian times or, in a more recent past, moorish times. And that’s where the story of azulejo starts.
It arrived in Portugal in 1498, by King D. Manuel I, on one of his trips to Spain. Portugal learned the method of manufacture and painting, and Portuguese tile became one of the strongest expression marks of its culture.

The brightness, exuberance and fantasy of ornamental motifs came from the East. The blue porcelain arrived from China, which, in the second half of the 17th century, gave the tile compositions without repetitive character, full of dynamism and forms in movement.

At the end of the 17th century, Portugal imported large quantities of tiles from Holland, absorbing the purity and refinement of the materials, as well as the idea of specialization of painters.

Although prominent and resurgent in Portuguese culture, the tile has Arab derivations in its own semantics. The term azzellj means small polished stone, and was used to designate the mosaic itself used in Byzantine art. However, as far as we know today, it designates a piece of ceramic of small thickness, usually square, with one of the faces glazed. Traditionally formatted in 15 × 15, it results from the enamel firing, which coats and makes this square piece waterproof and resplendent.

Interestingly, even in the days of Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, the use of tiles is evident, having experienced a geographic and expressive expansion from the Islamic presence and manifestation in the Mediterranean region, spreading throughout the Iberian Peninsula. It is in the East that the production of coatings for Chinese porcelain is consecrated, and its art, in proportion to the dynamics of Islamic enlargement, reached the regions where it was felt. Thus, Muslim artisans settled in various parts of the peninsula, and, tending, they planted the seeds of Mudejar architecture on Spanish soil, and of the art of tiles in Portugal. All of this right in the middle of this millennium. Meanwhile Portugal which had already a long ceramic tradition, gave up importing from Spain to make its own tile, and which propagated this same device to the colonies it held then. The feeling of enchantment was immediate, and there was a prospect of an eternalization of these mosaics in what would be a legacy for Iberian artisans.

It is the ruling classes that cultivate the taste for tiles first, choosing the most appropriate theme for the decoration of the buildings; from military campaigns, historical episodes, to everyday scenes, religious, mythological and even some satires. The potters were responsible for satisfying requests, copying models, adapting fashions and styles. At the end of the 17th century, the quality of production and execution is higher, there are entire families involved in this art of making tiles and, some painters begin to assert themselves as artists, starting to sign their works, thus beginning the Masters Cycle .

From the 19th century onwards, the tile gains more visibility, leaves the palaces and churches for the façades of the buildings, in a close relationship with architecture. The urban landscape is illuminated by the light reflected on the glazed surfaces. Tile production is intense, new factories are created in Lisbon, Porto and Aveiro. Later, already in the middle of the 20th century, the tile enters the railway and metro stations, some sets are signed by established artists. The tradition has become even more popular, presenting itself as a decorative solution for kitchens and bathrooms, in a test of resistance, innovation and renovation of this small piece of ceramic.

Now, answering the first question made in the beginning, why people had the tendency to say royalty had blue blood? This term refers to European Royal nobility and is a metaphor that describes the profound blue appearance of the veins and skin. The term Blue Blood (aka sangre azul) has origins that may predate recorded history. With majority strugling to acsess to water and shower, no doubt the white clean skin of the wealthy ones would stand out the veins that look like carrying blue blood.

Some places where you can see Portuguese tile panels:

São Bento Station, Porto;
Santo Ildefonso Church, Porto;
Church of the Congregates, Porto;
Capela das Almas, Porto;
Church of Nossa Senhora dos Remédios, Lamego;
Convent of Santa Cruz do Buçaco, Buçaco;
Convent of Christ, Tomar;
São Quintino Church, Sobral de Monte Agraço;
Quinta da Bacalhoa, Lisbon;
São Roque Chapel, Lisbon;
Graça Convent, Lisbon;
São Vicente de Fora Convent, Lisbon;
Palace of the Marqueses de Fronteira, Lisbon;
National Palace of Queluz, Lisbon;
Ferreira das Tabuletas House, Lisbon;
Mitra Palace, Azeitão.

And..last but not least, at Saint Lawrence church in Almansil, Algarve.I leave you with some pictures, including my sister’s wedding and my son’s christening just to have you writing this place on your list for when you’re visiting Algarve.


WHY I LOVE PORTUGAL ? And not only me…

I know a country:

• That in 30 years went from one of the worst infant mortality rates (80 per thousand) to the fourth lowest rate in the world (3 per thousand);

• That in eight years built the second most important European registry of bone marrow donors, indispensable in the fight against leukemic diseases;

• Which is a world leader in liver transplantation and is second in kidney transplantation;

• Which is a world leader in the application of immediate implants and fixed dental prostheses for total edentulous patients;

• That there is a company that developed software to eliminate paper as a support for the clinical record in hospitals (Alert), another that is one of the largest Iberian companies in the computerization of pharmacies (Glint) and another that invented the first Portuguese anti-epileptic (Bial );

• Which is the world leader in the renewable energy sector and the fourth largest wind energy producer in the world, which is also building the largest dam plan (ten) at European level (EDP);

• That invented and developed the world’s first prepaid mobile payment system (PT), which is a world leader in identification software (NDrive), which has a company that corrects and detects flaws in NASA’s computer system (Critical) and which has the best business incubator in the world (Instituto Pedro Nunes of the University of Coimbra);

• That wears one hundred million people worldwide and produces the second most expensive footwear worldwide, right after the Italian. And that manufactures innovative sheets, with different odors and anti-germ properties, where, for example, 30 million Americans sleep;

• Which is the “state of art” in plastic molds and the world leader in technology for energy transformers (Efacec) and which revolutionized the concept of toilet paper (Renova);

• That it has one of the best Multibanco (ATM) systems in the world and that it has developed an innovative system of paying at motorway tolls (Via Verde);

• That revolutionized the distribution sector, which won awards for the construction of shopping centers in other countries (Sonae Sierra) and which leads the “hard-discount” sector in Poland (Jerónimo Martins). * In addition to this, it is the largest producer of cork (Amorim Group) that leads production and processing worldwide;

• That manufactures the swimsuits that broke records at the Beijing Olympics, worn by ten of the equestrian teams that were at those Games ,that is the world’s largest producer of sport kayaks ,that has one of the best football teams in the world, the best coach on the planet (José Mourinho) and one of the best players (Cristiano Ronaldo);

• That has a Nobel Prize for Medicine (Egas Moniz), and a Nobel Prize for Literature (José Saramago), one of Mozart’s most notable interpreters (Maria João Pires) and several internationally recognized painters and sculptors (Paula Rego, Júlio Pomar, Maria Helena Vieira da Silva, João Cutileiro);

• Which has two Pritzker Prize winners – Nobel Prize for Architecture (Siza Vieira and Souto Moura), and had a Pope, João XXI (Pedro Julião Rebolo);

This country is Portugal. It has everything written above, plus …. a wonderful sun, a dazzling light, fabulous beaches, great cuisine and a lot of warmth to welcome everyone!

Welcome to this country you don’t know: PORTUGAL

Text from Nicolau Santos in ”Revista da TAP”

Algarve & The Mediterranean Food (part 2) . Top 4 traditional recipes.

Hello everyone!

As promised, i’m back just to let you know that life is much better with good food and too short to drink bad wine!                                                       

But first i need to show you some pictures taken recently, outdoors, away from crowds or noisy people. You know, despite the terrible times we’re all going through, i believe i live in Paradise, not only for the weather, yes you can drive for 10 minutes out of the city of Faro and be at the sea, but because of the people.It’s the simplicity of the genuine human beeings that makes me love home, even when i travel out of the country!

Cuca, my lovely PET

So i went to walk Cuca, my lovely female Spaniel Breton yesterday in the neighborhood of Faro. Since she loves the water and the temperature is warming up right now, i made a short cut before Praia de Faro, our island in Ria Formosa. Just before the entrance and the first roundabout with a big statue of a crab, you have the starting of a trail that for more incredible that you may think is private property!! For more than 20 years it has been my route to be in contact with nature and now is  one of the most popular trails in Algarve  to do bird watching! A stopping place for hundreds of different birds during the spring and autumn migratory periods it is a MUST SEE spot when you visit the region!

Making a long story short, i was enjoying her company and childish plays ( she is only 4 month old ) when a gentleman comes by after beeing with his legs inside the water up to the knee for some time.I had seen him, in a glimpse,  at a distance but not knowing what he was looking for. I do know a lot about the activity of ‘’mariscadores’’people who are expertized in seafood nurseries, either as a guide or by talking to fishermen . There are seafood farms ( including grooved carpet shell harvesting ) in this Natural Park, however this man was too far for me to distinguish. Our Ria Formosa has been, undoubtly, along the history, an immense source of seafood and fish. The Ria Formosa is a lagoon, located in the Algarve, in southern Portugal, and works as a system of barrier islands that communicates with the sea through six inlets. Five of these inlets are natural and have mobility characteristics. The sixth is an artificial inlet that was opened with the purpose of allowing easier access to the port of Faro.

So, what was this man carrying out of the water with him? Well, something not to common for the rest of the world..legs of crabs, simply and only one big leg taken out of a crab that stays alive regardless.It’s ok, another one will grow on its place, and many many people will pay good money for this tasty seafood! Each person can only take 3 kilos. I think he was carrying more, therefore he made me promise i wouldn’t catch him on the several pictures i took meanwhile.

A lot of our grandma recipes are based on that: ameijoas ( big black clams ), caranguejos (crabs) camarões ( shrimps ), lingueirão ( seafood in shape of knives ). And they are all coming from this side of the sea ( yes, it is salted water from the Atlantic, not Rio (river) but Ria ( branch of the sea ) that washes our coast from Faro till Cacela Velha ( another MUST SEE spot in the Algarve!)

In this way let’s open the chapeter of traditional dishes of the Algarve that can be included in this Mediterranean Diet. Hope you’ll be able to find the ingredients where you live, otherwise let me know how can i help you.

And the first or perhaps the main dish our region has to offer you is the queen at the table: Cataplana! The cataplana is traditionally made of copper and shaped like two clamshells hinged at one end and able to be sealed using a clamp on either side of the assembly. Cataplanas can also be made of aluminium.However when we order one, we have a long list to choose from as we cook several recipes on it.In this way, before you order, make sure which are your favourite ingredients and if you have no allergies to seafood.Most of them are based on seafood.

Also, if it is coppermade you can use it on the stove ; otherwise for glass-ceramic you need to buy one made of steel.

I will not talk about the item itself, that i usually show you on my tour ‘’Meet the artisans’’ It is definetly with pride that i walk you to the artisans working place and let you travel back in time, to see and understand how  some arts and traditions should be kept alive.

I will share with you  my way of cooking it! I just made two the past week- end for relatives from the north who die for it!

CATAPLANA ‘’a la Rose’’


Ingredients for 4 people :

( Please buy fresh, not canned )

3 big onions

6 well ripe tomatoes

2 red fresh peppers



400 grams of chicken brest chopped in cubes (you can change it for pork meat if you prefer)

500 grams of clams

500 grams of shrimps ( size 60/80 from Nigeria  or Mozambique )

1 red sausage

1 black sausage

White wine – 1dl

Tomato sauce


The way to cut the veggies is always the same: rings.

Start by placing the onions at the bottom.This is going to be done on layers:first onions,then tomato and finally red pepper.Upon them, a full hand of clams, the freshest you can get as this is the sea taste you want to have on the meat.Shrimps come after.

Meanwhile i season the chicken meat with garlic and black pepper and a few drops of lemon.In small cubes you can add it row.Otherwise you would have to pre frie the chicken to put in the cataplana. After this last layer of chicken you just have to start it all again, adding here and there the aromatic herbs.

The top should have a nice set up of shrimps, as this will show how artistic you became when you open the cataplana in front of your guests.

Take it to cook slowly for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile prepare a sauce with white wine, tomato sauce and maizena.Open the lid 20 minutes after cooking and pour this sauce on the top.Shake, shake, shake and leave it cooking for another 10 minutes.

Voliá! It’s ready to eat!! – Food & Wine Tours

You can also cook a vegetarian Cataplana, with veggies, mushrooms and tofu.

Any doubts please ask me filling up the form on this blog.Always available!

If you ever come to Faro let me know that i can take you to a cooking experience where you’ll learn by cooking it yourself.

Recomended wine:
Sparkling Quinta dos Abibes sublime


Do you happen to know italian cusine? If yes, you must know polenta for sure! We are not imitating but xarém is a very algarvian dish result of the marriage of land and sea. Probably dishes based on corn and bread like xerem and açorda, so popular nowadays, are a result of difficult times, crisis or wars when people had not much more choice to eat than what they were planting. Later on, and believing human beeings were more fair and generous in trading, farmers would negociate their products with fisherman and splendid and rich dishes came real.This is one of them. Earlier, only people from inland Algarve would cook corn. Until someone started using their creativity to add suasages or clams . Xarém or Papas de Milho can even be a side dish of grilled sardines.

Here goes my favourite recipe:

Ingredients for 4 people :

  • 1 kg of clams;
    100 grams of smoked bacon;
    100 grs of chorizo;
    100 grams of ham;
    200 grs of corn flour;
    1 dl of white wine;
    salt to taste;
    hot pepper

Wash the clams carefully to to free them of impurities they may contain. Normally i bring sea water from the market that the sellers are so happy to hand me. However you can cover them with salted tap water for 4 or 5 hours.That should be fine.Here in the Algarve all the fresh ones sold in markets have been in specific facilities for that purpose so that work is done.

  • Cut the bacon and ham into small strips and the chorizo ​​slices.
  • Fry them in a frying pan over low heat.
  • Remove the clams from the water.
  • Bake them in a pan, covered with water, for about 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Drain the liquid where you cooked them, taking care to pass it through a fine strainer.
  • Take the kernels out of the clams.
  • Pour this into a pan, add the cooking broth, add the wine and bring to the heat, letting it boil a little.
  • Sift the flour using a sieve.
  • Remove the pan and, outside the heat, add the flour to avoid lumps.
  • Bring to the heat again and let it cook, stirring occasionally.
    Add the meat and serve very hot.
  • If one day you’re hanging around doing nothing and feeling hungry please call me that i will take you to the closest lovely village to enjoy a full plate of xerém.


What about wine to go along? Still white is the best choice, may be a dry young white.


BSE 2018




As far as starters is concerned we love ‘’azeitonas’’ black or green olives.When we have a
friend owning orchards we volunteer to help on the harvesting season, around November, with the guarantee that we’ll return with a full bag of them to prepare. Algarvian people are known for their skills on making a special preparation that we call: Azeitonas Britadas



  • Olives “manzanilha’’ – green
  • Water
  • Oregano
  • Lemon
  • Blond
  • Salt
  • Bay leaf

Preparation Crush the olives (it means crushing the olives lightly, without breaking the wagon, with a stone. Then wash and place the olives in a container with water. The water must be changed every day to remove the bitter taste of the olives. Then season with oregano, bay leaf, lemon and salt. The olives are kept in a cool place and last for about two to three months.    





  •  8 eggs 
  • 500g of sugar (I used sugar cane yelow )
  •  1 c. (soup) of orange zest
  •  1 c. (soup) of lemon zest 
  • 100 g of honey
  •  0.5 dl of extra virgin olive oil

 Preparation :

Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Butter a cake pan with flour and set aside. In a bowl place the eggs and sugar and incorporate with your hands so that the sugar is completely broken (alternatively use a mixer and a wire stick and beat at low speed). Add the orange and lemon zest, honey and olive oil and mix until all the ingredients are well connected. Pour the preparation into the pan and bake about 45 to 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan. 

You see, we portuguese love to socialize, specially around a big table .It is a lot of work you may say, but the pleasure of chatting and eating, and drinking is for sure worth it!!  


Hope you’ll have as much fun as i do on your gastronomic experiences! Take your time to prepare everything and put your love and care on it!

There is no way you can fail!


Good food matters! The Mediterranean Diet in Algarve.

Hi everyone!

Reading the first words i believe you thought i was going to talk about calories,nutrition, way!I am going to introduce you to a marvellous world of color and flavor called Portuguese Cuisine.
Often Portugal is a zero in the big three European countries when it comes to food.Spain,France and Italy are at the top of the list either by the famous tapas(our petiscos)the sauces or the pasta.

It’s a shame, because Portugal’s contribution to the culinary world is immense!

In the 15th century, during the Age of Discovery, Portuguese explorers took to the sea in search of new lands. They sailed down to, and around, the African coast in pursuit of black pepper, gold and the riches of the Far East. It wasn’t long before Portugal had staked claims from Macau in China, to Goa in India, to Brazil in South America, to Mozambique and other African nations. The discovery of these new lands dramatically affected cooking in Portugal (and around the world, for that matter).

I was born in Africa, Luanda the capital of Angola, one of the early portuguese colonies just 14 times bigger than Portugal.The smell of this spices in the air, and the use of it in my mum’s cooking is still in my DNA as i keep using it despite living in Faro since my childwood. You can tell by the photo how much i loved food. We say you’re a good fork (és um bom garfo) when people like eating in quantity.

Acctually, we talk a lot about piri-piri in Algarve wondering how this spice came into our habits. Some believe the pepper was brought back on Christopher Columbus’ voyage to the Americas. Others are convinced that the Portuguese took the chili to the colonies of Mozambique and Angola, where it naturally cross-pollinated after being given a Swahili christening.
Eventually, the pepper made its way back to Portugal. May be due to the return of so many portuguese when the war for independence forced them to leave after 1975, it spred faster in the touristic area of the Algarve. No matter who’s wrong and who’s right, piri piri looks like a good marriage between Portuguese colonization and African social culture.

It is a regional speciality in the town of Guia, in Central Algarve.I can recommend you ‘’o Ribeirinho’’ and ‘’O Teodósio’’ as two choices of good restaurants to try it.

Other common ingredients are salt, spirits (namely whisky), citrus peel, onion, pepper, bay leaves, paprika,pimiento, basil, oregano, and tarragon.

But, what brings us here today is ‘’The Mediterranean Diet, classified as World Heritage by UNESCO, and part of the identity of the Portuguese gastronomy.

Its basis is plants, including vegetables, fruit, good quality bread and largely unprocessed cereals, dried and fresh legumes (beans, chickpeas, broad beans, etc.), dried fruits and nuts (walnuts, almonds, chestnuts, raisins, etc.), but also olive oil as the main source of fat, and fish at the expense of red meat.

All of these foods, that we prefer to consume in season – and buy in local shops, if not in traditional markets, following the rhythm of the harvest and the working of the fields – are part of a simple and frugal cuisine that prepares them in such a way as to preserve their nutrients. So we have soups, stews, casseroles and chowders, which retain the antioxidant properties of the ingredients, contributing to a longer life for those who eat them.

The Mediterranean diet is further distinguished by the moderate consumption of dairy products, the use of herbs for seasoning instead of salt, the moderate consumption of wine and only with meals, the consumption of water as the main drink during the day and, not least, the companionship around the table. Indeed, a well-established characteristic of the Portuguese is to share meals, a ritual that brings together family and friends and is a mark of our hospitality.’

Extracted from

What is the Mediterranean Diet?

“The Mediterranean diet is a set of skills, knowledge, practices and traditions related to human food, ranging from land to table, covering crops, crops and fishing, as well as the conservation, processing and preparation of food and, in particular, its consumption.

The nutritional model of this diet has remained constant over time and space, the main ingredients are olive oil, cereals, fresh or dried fruits and vegetables, a moderate proportion of meat, fish and dairy products, abundant condiments and whose consumption at the table is accompanied by wine or infusions, always respecting the beliefs of each community.

The Mediterranean diet – whose name derives from the Greek word daily, which means way of life – does not comprise just food, as it is a cultural element that promotes social interaction, verifying that common meals are a cornerstone of customs celebrations and festive events. The Mediterranean diet also gave rise to a considerable body of knowledge, songs, choruses, tales and legends.

Thus, an attitude of respect for the land and biodiversity remains and guarantees the conservation and development of traditional and artisanal activities linked to agriculture and fisheries in many communities in the Mediterranean countries (…). Women play a fundamental role both in transmitting specific practices and knowledge about traditional rituals, gestures and celebrations, and in safeguarding techniques. ”

Some suggestions:

Ink fish with sweet potatoe
Rice with octopus
Beans with seafood

Products and Producers

Sacred trilogy.

Homemade bread
Olive oil

Bread, olive oil and wine are the trilogy of Mediterranean food culture, but other products are equally important.

The Mediterranean populations attributed to these foods values of collective survival, therefore sacred, symbolic and aggregators, always present in the practices, rituals and festivities of the communities.

Since antiquity and in various civilizations, the dead were deposited in the food company for Eterna Viagem and funeral banquets were held.

Excessive food was condemned by religion and in Catholicism gluttony is one of the seven deadly sins.

Culture and Heritage

The Algarve is an amphitheater exposed to the south, protected by the mountains and influenced by the Mediterranean climate. The municipality of Tavira has a mosaic of cultural landscapes, created by the interaction of man with nature over the last thousand years.

The schistose mountain range, with poor soils and undergrowth, developed successively “unregulated” areas that allowed fields with rainfed crops, cork oaks, holm oaks and some cereals such as wheat and barley, family gardens, livestock and the use of wild resources.

In the peripheral depression through which the Gilão River flows, there are floodplains and irrigated areas, vegetable gardens, orchards dotted with olive groves, almonds, fig trees, carob trees.

Zone of transition with the coast, called barrocal, benefits from underground aquifers, from the mild climate in winter, without frost or low temperatures and more protected from the salinity of the sea. Vegetables, citrus fruits, figs, carob, olives and soft-shelled almonds predominate.

Next to the sea, the city built for many centuries from a Phoenician village located on the genetic hill, descended in the 15th and 16th centuries to the river, followed it, occupying wetlands and both banks to the estuarine area.

On the coast, the lagoon system and the barrier islands of Tavira and Cabanas stand out, integrated in the internationally classified Natural Park of Ria Formosa, a very lively area with tuna and artisanal fishing, shellfish, mollusc and bivalve catching, saliniculture and nurseries . In the vicinity of the sea the vine is planted and some areas of mixed cultures persist.

Cultural landscapes are part of the region’s historical identity. It is essential to UNDERSTAND, PRESERVE AND VALUE its high heritage value, playful and economic potential.

With sedentarization, agriculture and extractive activities, natural spaces were transformed into cultural landscapes. These give us precious historical information about our relationship with the places, in many cases of great beauty, capable of integrating the classified cultural heritage and attracting visitors.

Olive groves, vineyards, mounts and crops are striking images of the Mediterranean landscape.

Tavira – wonderful roofs and marvellous churches

If there is a town in Algarve that has been doing a great work to promote this type of food on people’s diet and its benefits to health and wellbeing it is Tavira! On your next visit to the region save some time to walk the splendid old streets and why not, try to do it in early September when this annual event takes place. For 4 days you will get a closer look (and maybe buy) to the products and taste food, participate in lectures and seminars. Plus there will be music, dancing, theatre and plenty of activities for the kids.

Well, that’s all for today!

I will bring you soon some recipes from my mum’s cooking delights which include African dishes, northern portuguese, where she comes from and my own ones that i consider a well worth secret to share with you!

Stay well, stay safe!

Portugal, Algarve – a good destination post Covid-19 ?

Highly concerned with what is happening to humankind lately,i want to update you on what is going on at the moment in Portugal,mostly after May 4th when the doors of the portuguese homes started opening slowly. However, Portugal will emerge from lockdown with its reputation as one of the safest and most stable countries in the world undamaged.

We’re all ansious to welcome our happy customers but we have a great sense of responsability too,in relation to the others.That is why i care for your quality and safe Precious Time!If and when you’re ready to travel for a short break, willing to be in a private small group,yourself and your family,and have a memorable experience, be sure we are prepared to assist you and more than ever,tailor a specif program,away from the crowded and busy touristic places.

Before that,please read some of the most recent news from the portuguese governement that will help you take the best decision while packing.I will bring you soon the latest new Precious Programe designed to pump you!

Be happy, be safe!