Now nine months since our arrival in Portugal. Were feeling very blessed to be able to do this and grateful for the opportunity to experience what life has to offer from this perspective.
The Weather here has been really great this month. A constant mix of warm sunny, cool and crisp, rain and postcard like clouds provides an ever changing background for the spectacular landscape and views. Feeling like spring already with fields of wildflowers blooming everywhere, Almond and Walnut trees dot the landscape with their snowy white flowers, and green grasses providing a nice backdrop.
Portugal's economy continues to expand with inflation declining slowly and economic growth continuing to outpace most of the rest of Europe. It's remarkable to be here and watch this country rebound from near bankruptcy only a few years ago to its ever improving condition today. There is a long way to go for sure but progress is being made.
On the farm... Not much harvesting right now but planting for spring harvest is in full swing. Teresa´s fava beans are getting taller and have flowers on them, onions are coming along slowly and newly planted radish, carrots, green beans, spinach, and potatoes are already reaching for the sun. The winter crop of oranges and mandarins continue to provide us with abundant fruit for juice and snacks. It seem like we have citrus available year round!
We were able to get out and enjoy a few things in the local area this month and experienced several new restaurant. Our appointment to finalize Mary's residency is coming up in March so were diligently planning travel outside Portugal for the upcoming months. So many choices it's hard to decide where to start. Italy, Greece, Amsterdam, France, Prague...plenty of time to see all especially with there close proximity and ease of travel.
This months activities and Photos
The small village of Alte located in the foothills about 45 minutes east from our house. We visited in early February so it was very quiet. Beautiful little village with a tranquil river area that looks perfect for a picnic or summer concert. Well return this summer for time under the shade trees along the river.
Following our time in Alte, we stopped into the town of Loule for lunch at Adega da Vila. Located along a narrow alley just off the main plaza in Loule. We enjoy coming here for the great food and wine they offer. Prices are very reasonable and the service is attentive. Tapas style dishes are great for sharing and allow for sampling of a variety of menu items
Wine tasting at Quinta da Falésia just west of Lagos about 25 minutes from our house. Great views, good wine, and friendly people. Couldn't have asked for a better way to spend a sunny afternoon. We arrived a little early and walked the path along the cliff tops on Trilho dos Pescadores (Fishermen's Trail) between Luz and Lagos. Fantastic views and we were treated to a show by a group of hang gliders. Quinta Falésia is Portugal's southern most vineyards high on the cliffs overlooking the Atlantic. Tasting was a bit pricey for Portugal standards at 30€ each, but the pours were very generous. The wines were very good, the charcuterie was average, but the setting looking out over the vineyards to the ocean was priceless.
Our neighbor/landlord invited us to dinner out with their son and his fiance. A casual night out at Churrasqueira Das Cardosas, said to have one of the best Piri Piri Chicken in Portimao.
Dinner at Rolha wine bar, one of our new favorite restaurants in the area, creative well prepared food, good service by one of the owners who also owns a small wine distribution company. At Rolha he pours many selections from his wine business and retails them at very reasonable prices. Duck Croquettes, Iberian Pork Lardo on Toast, Quail Piri Piri, and a three cheese board.
The town of Silves located in the foothills above Portimao is famous for its imposing medieval Castle, Cathedral, and Silves Oranges. Oranges grown in the district of Silves are known as the best in the Algarve. The annual Orange festival highlights the products from the region which of course features everything made from oranges.
A low key Valentines Day/Marys Birthday. Not quite the hype of Valentine's day in the States but is widely celebrated here. We usually avoid dinner out on this day due to the chaos and crush of everyone else doing the same. A bit more low key here so for the first time in many years we enjoyed a night out on Valentine's day. Mary's request for her birthday was Pizza so we headed to L´Angolo in Alvor. We enjoyed conversation with a couple sitting next to us from Toronto Canada who come here for six weeks in the winter and have been doing so for 18 years.
A hike along the boardwalk and path near Ponta da Piedade in Lagos. It feels like spring in the Algarve with wildflowers, and nut trees in bloom everywhere!
We ventured out to see the Flamingos in the area today and found them in two spots, one in the estuary that is practically in our backyard, the other was the mouth of the Alvor river. Along the way we found a few other curious creatures.
We were invited to our neighbors house for Sunday dinner along with another couple who are friends from the neighborhood. Our first home cooked Portuguese meal that lived up to the traditions we have heard about. Enough food for a crowd twice the size, very few vegetables in sight but plenty of meat and sweets for dessert. Teresa is a very good cook and represents the traditions of her Portuguese and French background very well. She must have spent the entire day in the kitchen preparing Couscous, a Caldo of beef, onions, potatoes, and carrots, Portuguese chouriço sausage, roasted chicken, a dish similar to meatloaf, and plenty of olives, bread and cheese to start. Sobremesa (Dessert) included an apple tart and Portuguese pudim (Flan).
Good Portuguese wine and our first Medronho (known as Portuguese fire water due to its often high alcohol content) after dinner. Teresa's husband Luis and his brother in law make their own Medronho next door so it was a treat to share their results. This version, although you could tell it was high in alcohol, was very smooth and just a slight sweetness to it, similar to grappa but much smoother.
It was an interesting night with an abundance of languages spoken; Portuguese, French, and English seemed to be spoken at the same time around the table along with plenty of hand gestures for emphasis! Teresa speaks French, Portuguese, and a little english, Luis speaks French and Portuguese, no english, Their other guests speak French and a little english, Teresa's son Tony speaks English, French, Portuguese, and Spanish, while his girlfriend Speaks English, Portuguese, and Russian! With all that going on her cat Faiska slept soundly in the window near the dining table.
Pre Carnival snack in Loule at DaJesus Pizzeria Artigianale. Hand tossed artisan pizza with authentic Italian ingredients. Our salad was great with Buffalo Mozzarella. we'll have to come back for the pasta as it looks very good too...
Carnival in Portugal is a pretty big deal! Not quite as big as Brazil or New Orleans but widely celebrated with reverence across the country. We learned that the town of Loule near Faro in the Algarve was the best place nearby to capture the essence. Off we went and spent the day wrapped up in the music, floats, dancers and party atmosphere.
Dinner at Mediterraneamente just outside of Alvor. We pass by frequently and have wanted to try them out mainly because of the inviting outdoor space. I don't often like very thin crusted pizzas, but the high quality of ingredients used here made this one a local favorite. The Tagliatelle with Pesto was equally as good. The homemade Pistachio ice cream is fantastic
While we were in Faro we stumbled across the Ponto Smokehouse. Curiosity got the best of us so we stopped in for lunch. After living in the USA I have a high standard for anything barbequed or smoked, this one in comparison is just okay. The quality of the products were very good but the smoked flavor just wasn't there. No Carolina style sauce for the pulled pork sandwich is a tragedy!
Random Photos from the Algarve
Our favorite Portuguese pastry from the Mercado in our village
Barney and Sonny are happy in their new home, saying hello from Portugal
As always we hope everyone is doing well, healthy, happy, and thriving. We miss you and love you all...A lot!