Monday, 18 March 2013 5:16 PM
If your idea of the perfect holiday consists of tucking into great-tasting food and drink, Portugal is definitely one destination worth considering. Coming here not only enables you to sample a fabulous range of cuisine, but you'll also get to benefit from the country's year-round pleasant weather. The Algarve region of the country is an especially wonderful place for food-loving tourists. To find out more about what this area has to offer, read on.
Given the fact that large stretches of Portugal border the Atlantic Ocean, it should be of little surprise that the country is a fantastic destination to try seafood. Choose to visit the Algarve, however, and you'll find that octopus is an especially popular component of the local fare.
This particular delicacy can be prepared in a range of ways, including being fried and grilled. You will also discover that octopus is found in feijoadas – a kind of stew – and octopus rice. Although there are many variations on the latter across Portugal, it is worth seeking out the version from Santa Luzia. This eastern Algarve region is often referred to as the capital of octopus among locals, so it should be the perfect place for seafood lovers to try the dish.
Head to the area from your luxury Algarve villa (which you can book when clicking here) and you will find a number of restaurants that serve the dish. Here, you'll get to taste pepper, chilli, red wine and garlic alongside octopus, so it is certain to appeal to those who enjoy spicy cuisine.
Seafood fanatics should also try cataplanas during their holiday. This stew can be made with various types of fish and shellfish, so the particular ingredients that you will encounter are likely to vary depending on where you choose to eat. No matter where you go, however, you will find that the dish is prepared in a cataplana. This is a traditional deep copper pan that enables the food to cook at a low temperature, something which helps to retain its natural aromas and juices.
If you're looking for a traditional dessert to finish off your meal, give fig cheese a go. Although it does not actually feature cheese, the blend of sweet and savoury ingredients that it contains are bound to tantalise your palette. As you might expect, figs are present – as is cinnamon, anise, lemon, almonds and arbutus berries.
To really round off your dessert, you should eat a slice of fig cheese along with a glass of medronho. This is a locally-made brandy that also contains fruit from arbutus trees, though you may know these as strawberry trees (a nickname given because the fruit they bear looks similar to strawberries).
Salt is another key component of Algarve cuisine, with the region's saltpans creating ideal conditions to produce numerous varieties of the ingredient. Among the most popular types is flora de sal (also known as salt flower), which is deemed to have a slightly sweet and delicate flavour to it and is often found in carpaccio and salad dishes.
If you're keen to make your own meals, meanwhile, you might want to buy Sal de Mar salt. Recommended for use in pasta and potato dishes, this salt is free of additives and is perfect for creating authentic Mediterranean cuisine that is both delicious and nutritious.