The Algarve is often renowned for its golden beaches, luxurious resorts and fantastic golf courses. However, another aspect which shouldn’t be missed in Portugal’s southernmost region is without a doubt its cuisine. Various delicious dishes are on offer coming from both land and sea, thanks to the region’s coastline. There is a collection of different flavours and tastes to the Algarve’s dishes which make the culinary experience here truly unique. So, when you book your Algarve holiday thinking about the warm climate and great beaches, let us tell you what else you have to look forward to in terms of cuisine.
Due to the region’s proximity to the sea, of course fish and seafood are a huge feature in the Algarve’s cuisine. Very often you’ll see fresh sardines being grilled near the beach and garnished with herbs. Another popular fish to eat is Bacalao, a type of salt fish which appears in many Algarve recipes. Try Arroz de Marisco, otherwise known as seafood rice. This dish consists of rice along with various seafood from prawns and crab to clams, cooked together in a pot of tomato and white wine.
Other dishes like tuna steak is popular in Tavira and is often served up on a skewer. Check out the octopus dishes in Santa Luzia, it can be cooked in many different ways and with several flavours. Octopus is often grilled, breaded or stewed in wine and the same can be expected of squid and cuttlefish.
Meat is yet another favourite when it comes to bulking up meals. The further inland you travel in the Algarve the more meat dishes you’ll come across as opposed to fish and seafood. In the Algarve, you’ll find lots of Frango Piri Piri or Piri Piri chicken, which is essentially grilled chicken doused in a spicy, tasty sauce. Piri Piri has become a culinary favourite around the world with many restaurants and fast food stores offering this type of cuisine. But, of course, if you’d love to try the original make your way to Portugal where you can indulge in this delicious dish.
Other meat dishes range from galinha cerejada (braised chicken) and cozido de grão (boiled meats and chickpeas). Various types of meat are used in Portuguese stews, so be prepared to try something different that you haven’t tasted before.
Sweet tooth? Well, don’t miss out on the dessert in the Algarve! Almonds are widely grown in the southern region and they are heavily implemented within various dishes. Dom Rodrigo is a traditional dessert which consists of ground almonds, sugar and cinnamon along with threaded egg yolks. Dom Rodrigo has a Moorish influence and continues to be a favourite in the Algarve. Or why not choose a general Portuguese favourite in Pasteis de Natas. These custard tarts have a crispy top and a creamy inside and are simply wonderful to finish off a meal out.
Moreover, it’s not only almonds which are a favourite in Algarve desserts, figs and carob are too. All three ingredients are used in sweets and desserts around the region. Some tours around the Algarve spend some time highlighting the use of carob in dishes and allow you to taste it. Carob remains a healthy staple and alternative to other sweet treats like chocolate. Thanks to its lack of stimulants like caffeine, carob is often sought after to replace cacao.
When we think of a local drink in the Algarve, we think of their wine which goes down perfectly with their traditional dishes. The Algarve is perfect territory for growing grape vines and the Portuguese region in particular produces a lot of wine using different varieties of grapes. In fact, the Algarve is fast becoming a popular wine producing region. There are four main regions in the Algarve which produce wine, often known as Denomição de Origem Controlado (DOCs). These regions are Tavira, Lagos, Lagoa and Portimão. The fact that these regions are classified as DOCs means there are strict controls over the quality of the wine. From the alcohol content to the variety of grapes and aging time.