The Algarve is one of the most beautiful and peaceful regions in Portugal. With its mild weather, natural abundance of the land, and valleys protected from harsh winds, this region has a rich cuisine based on fish and seafood. Most dishes are heavily influenced by a number of factors such as history, geography, and cultural influences. While most people are familiar with its pristine beaches and superb landscape, there is much more to the region than just that.
Food plays a major role in the Portuguese culture. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the Algarve. Even though there are hundreds of restaurants to choose from, traditional home cooking has taken on a vital significance. Most recipes are passed down through generations. The Algarve cuisine is based on traditional home cooking. This region has many foreign restaurants, so you can easily find British-style fish and chips.
The crown of the food in the region is its desserts whose main ingredients, which are made with figs and almonds. If you have a sweet tooth, local pastries include the traditional custard tarts and almond cake. Popular desserts in the Algarve include Folhados de Olhão, Morgado de Lagos, Nógados, and Morgadinhos. Many of the local desserts were created in Middle Ages monasteries. Arroz dolce, a favorite dessert, is a must for Christmas time parties.
Most dishes contain meat, fish, vegetables, and fruit. If you go to a local restaurant, you will receive three course meals, including a soup, a cold gaspacho or a warming caldo verde followed by fresh grilled sea bass. You may also order crabs, shrimp, goose barnacles, oysters, and mussels. In the Algarve, two popular dishes include shellfish cooked in a copper cataplana with spices and pork, and grilled tuna.
The Algarve's wines are worth a try. The most famous red wine is Dão. You may also try Buçaco and Colares. "Green wine" or vinho verde comes in white, red, and rose varieties. This type of wine is low in alcohol and has a slight effervescence.
Beer is very popular in the Algarve. There are three national brands, including Sagrees, Cristal, and Super Bock. The house wine in red (tinto) and white (branco) is always good value. Alcohol in general tends to be very affordable in the Algarve. After a good meal, make sure you try a glass of port. This region is famous for its spirits – the most popular ones are Medronho and Aguardente.