The squid is a sea socialite, always hopping from shrimp to smelt parties, elegant and glamorous in its pink-dotted design gown. This cephalopod has in recent years become a globe trotter. Every day, billions of squid travel by road, sea and air to the menus of fashionable restaurants around the world. But all this roving takes a toll on the delicate mollusk, which arrives tired and frozen, long on frequent-flyer miles and short on taste.
If you’re in Portugal, don’t miss the chance to try some fresh squid. The best way to cook it is “Algarve style” (lulas à Algarvia): the squid is lightly fried in olive oil, garlic, and bay leaves. It’s a simple preparation and yet, it produces sublime results that do justice to the squid’s diaphanous freshness.
The centerpiece of the 1940 Portuguese World Fair was a large plaster sculpture celebrating Portugal’s age of discovery. Two decades later, this sculpture was rebuilt in cement and stone. It has a terrace on top that you can reach by elevator. It is well worth the climb to enjoy the magnificent view of Lisbon.
The monument is shaped like a ship prowl. Both sides are crowded with statues of monarchs, sailors, scientists, missionaries, writers, and artists. They’re all jostling for a good position on the narrow decks, thinking that, if they’re going to stand still until the end of time, they might as well get a nice view of the Tagus river.
Prince Henry the Navigator secured the prime spot. He stands right in front of the monument with a stern look on his face. Some say that he’s thinking about the perils that Portuguese explorers had to endure. But a more popular theory is that he’s simply afraid of being pushed into the river. Despite his nautical fame, Prince Henry never learned to swim.
One of the simple pleasures of Portuguese cuisine is roasted chicken with piri-piri, a spicy sauce made with peppers that came originally from Africa.
Frango da Guia, a small roasted chicken, is very popular in the Algarve. But the best roasted chicken we have ever had is from Frango Saloio, a tiny take-out place in the municipal market of the town of Lourinhã, 70 km north of Lisbon. You see no tourists there, only locals who wait while their chicken is cooked to perfection over red-hot coals. Lines can be long during the Summer, so please don’t tell anyone about this place!
Frango Saloio is located in Mercado Municipal, Loja 2, Lourinhã, tel. 917 272 385.
Algarve is much more than gorgeous beaches and perfect weather. It is also delicious sweets made with eggs, almonds or figs. The most famous are the Dom Rodrigos. But the prettiest are doces finos (fine sweets) like the ones shown in the photo, made with the wonderful marzipan that only almonds from Algarve can produce. These local treats are one more reason why life in the Algarve is so sweet.
The doces finos in the photo are from Pastelaria Beira-Mar, Avenida Infante Sagres 61-A, Quarteira, tel. 289 314 748.