20 Years From Now...

"20 YEARS FROM NOW," Mark Twain said, “you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than the ones you did.”THIS online journal is dedicated to our next 20 years!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

It's All About The Food

No doubt you've heard Meghan Trainor's hit song "All About That Bass". Well, this post is all about the food. The joy of experiencing a different place and culture naturally involves eating. There's something intimate and enticing in discovering the variances of what is familiar and there's nothing better than becoming acquainted with something new and unexpected. 


Let's begin by stating the obvious. We're not food critics or gourmet aficionados. We're just two Canadian retirees who know what we like and what we don't. Offer us a simple yet tasty meal made with fresh, natural ingredients served in an unpretentious setting and 99.9% of the time we'll leave happy and satisfied and will rave about it ad nauseam.  

Shrimp with Avocado

The downside is we rarely eat out at home. Being served a frozen, lifeless entree that can be purchased in a grocery store and thawed in our own home is not our idea of time or money well spent. Being expected to pay an arm and a leg for said meal is also a turn off. Since our arrival in Europe I've only become more critical and dismayed at the state of our so-called food industry. I don't look forward to returning to Canada and having little real choice about the food I eat. Consumers should be allowed to make up their own minds about the unhealthy amounts and of sugar, salt and hormones injected and added to our food, and all contents should be printed on the label in large letters. 

Okay. Enough ranting on my part. From here on in it's all about the food in Portugal's Algarve.

We've enjoyed many restaurant meals in Albufeira and every single one has offered mouthwatering, wholesome food. Our very first evening we savoured chicken piri-piri (barbecued Portuguese dish) at Donaldo'sIf not for George, the greeter, who enticed us off the sidewalk and inside we might have missed this delightful traditional dish. Thank you, George. We enjoyed every morsel including the complimentary glass of dessert port.

Right next door is the Tamariz Restaurant. What makes it unique is locals outnumber tourists and that suggests (to us at least) the fare meets with their approval. 

The grilled fish served with almonds, orange and banana is my favourite while John keeps going back (again and again) for the Albufeira Delight. 

Albufeira Delight

JoJo's Restaurante in the old section of town has both an indoor and outdoor eating area as well as a roof top terrace. We sat at the upper table far right overlooking the street. 

I ordered grilled sardines while John had the spareribs. We didn't stop to take photos before digging in, but I did snap one of John - although I caught him off guard. (At least he's smiling!)

The Borda D'Aqua restaurant and bar's strength is its oceanside location. 

From any table it's possible to soak up the sun and listen to the waves crash onto shore. The menu is geared to those who prefer fast food with a beverage, but the thin crust Hawaiian pizza made a satisfying and tasty lunch. 

This lemon meringue pie is homemade. Rich. Creamy. Delicious. Mmm!

Best of all it's guilt free as one has to trek down and back up the steep and curvy 'coronary hill' as the  Borda D'Aqua Restaurant is at the very end of this street.

The Castelo do Mar, perched on a hilltop overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and Albufeira marina, is a favourite with tourists. 

Besides serving local Portuguese fare it also offers a traditional Sunday roast. We can't say enough about the slow-roasted Black Iberian pig served with apple chutney, stuffing, potato wedges, fresh veg and Yorkshire pudding. Wow. What a feast. 

We were determined to eat at the Atrium Restaurant (header photo) and as luck would have it we stopped by on a Wednesday. Not only were we able to grab a table by the balcony AND on the menu that day was the one dish John wanted to try (Cataplana, shown above) but our meal included Fado - live music. It was truly one of those moments we'll cherish forever. If you cannot view the video below it's on Youtube.  

Of course, the apple dessert was literally the icing on the cake - or in this case pie!

At times we were downright giddy at having discovered the Atrium. It's old world charm is evident in its architecture, elaborate stage, and intricate ceiling and chandelier.

Talk about relaxed and enjoying the moment. I didn't even flinch when John pulled out his camera.

Another memorable lunch took place at The Beach Basket. The exterior of the building gives no clue as to the spectacular ocean views.

As you can see everyone bypassed the inside tables and headed toward the terrace.

John ordered the grilled sea bass while I selected penne with salmon. My meal was delicious, but I did manage to get one bite of John's bass. I give him credit for sharing because it's the best fish I've ever tasted. So good in fact, it's a temptation for the gulls who do their best to convince customers they're part of the ambiance. 

Sometimes they're a little more brazen. This one calmly joined a couple beside us, getting as close to the table as it dared. The waitress warned them to be careful. Given a chance the gull would snatch the fish right off their plate. I wonder if that's why he's got his eye on us. Did he spot John's sea bass?

We've been told there are thousands of restaurants in Albufeira and to be honest we're grateful only half are open this time of year. Otherwise our bank account would be thinner while our waists would  definitely be thicker. The memories, however, truly are priceless!

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  1. We loved the chiken piri-piri so much so we bought a bottle of the sauce to bring back home with us. I can now find the sauce in some of the stores in Canada, just not so sure it is as good as the real stuff in Portugal. We also got a complimentary glass of port at the end of our meal. :-)

    Your meals and desserts look delicious and I am so happy that you are both enjoying it there.


    1. We're having a wonderful time, Ruth. Traveling slow is so much easier at this stage of life and it's an absolute joy to experience Portugal in all of its facets - and foods! I can well imagine you've perfected the chicken piri-piri recipe as whenever Kevin posts a photo of one of your dishes they always look so delicious. :)

  2. The lemon meringue pie looks wonderful!!! But... I am surprized about the Yorkshire Pudding being available in Portugal!! You've mentioned twice, I believe, so it must be part of their cuisine. Didn't know that!

    1. Hi Alan, I don't think it's part of the Portuguese cuisine, but there's a close history between Portugal and England after England helped them kick out the Spanish back in the 1500s. Also, quite a few Brits live here permanently and between those who just want a taste of home now and then combined with the seasonal tourists from the UK those Portuguese restaurant owners who want to entice customers will offer UK dishes. It's a win/win!

  3. Hi Dianne,

    I totally agree with your assessment of European food -- everywhere is great. I love being able to step off the street into any little restaurant, even with plastic chairs and tables, with confidence that the meal will be fresh and well-prepared.

    Your choices look just like the places we might choose while discovering a region. Thanks for letting us accompany you through Albufeira -- quite lovely!

    Wishing you safe and happy travels,

    1. Oh, you're so right, Josie. We've not had a bad meal anywhere, and it's so easy to tell everything is made from scratch AT the restaurant. If it's not, we've had a waitress try to discourage us by stating the dessert was made elsewhere. Talk about honest!

  4. This all looks and sounds so wonderful! You guys look amazing. Loved the video. We heard a Fado singer in Lisbon - it was wonderful. Keep posting ...