Sunshine and Pastries

Having recently got back from a house-hunting trip in Portugal, I just had to share with you the incredible eye-opening, mouth-watering food journey I went on!!!

Portugal is known for its sunny climes, hundreds of Brits descend on the Algarve each year to escape the chilly UK winters, and now I see why. When you think of Portugal, it brings to mind, sandy beaches, rocky coves, golf, and of course wine. But did you know just how fantastic Portuguese food is? 

We started with the CATAPLANA during a day trip in Tavira. (Tavira is situated in the east of the Algarve, 28km from Faro, and near the Spanish border. It's a quaint, charming and unique town home to over 30 churches, well worth a visit.)


Cataplana de Piexe

Cataplana is the name for the copper pot that the meal is cooked in, there are several varieties, all of which are delicious, Cataplana with Clams and Pork, Fish Cataplana, Seafood Cataplana.....

Clams, Mussels, King Prawns, arrive steaming hot and fresh at your table, with arousing aromas, so that the guests at adjacent tables turn and twist to see what your having! (see simple recipe below)

Seafood Cataplana Recipe

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 ounce sausage or fresh chorizo, removed from the casing
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sliced shallot, optional
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 1 pound fresh clams
  • 1 1/2 ounces medium-size shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/4 cup crushed vine ripe tomatoes, fresh or canned
  • 2 tablespoons white wine
  • Smoked paprika
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges, for serving

In a cataplana pan or shallow-sided pot with cover, heat 1 teaspoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook until lightly browned. Add the shallots, if using, and garlic. Cook until softened and fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the clams, shrimp, tomatoes, wine and some paprika. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and steam gently over medium to medium-low heat just until the clams open and the shrimp are pink, 4 to 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Sprinkle with the remaining oil, chopped parsley and a squeeze of lemon. Serve directly out of the pan. Enjoy!

Everyone kept telling me how fresh and yummy the local fish was so I had no choice but to give it a try. We scouted out the local fish markets, all in our bid to find the freshest fish available....

Fresh Sardines from Quarteria Fish Market

We took our sardines home and grilled them on the barbecue on our balcony. Added a little salt and pepper to taste and lots of lemon. Delicious.

I had been told (warned) about the Pastel de Nata (Portuguese Egg Tart Pastry) before I arrived in Portugal, namely that they were dangerous and should come with a 'eat-me-and-you-will-want-more' sign. 

I visited a local bakery and bought half-a-dozen just baked tarts that were still warm - well half of those were eaten before we reached the car. I kid you not, the beautiful balance of light fluffy pastry and smooth, slightly sweet creamy filling does tantalizing things to your mouth.

Pastel De Nata

A trip to Portugal would be amiss if we didn't try the Peri-Peri Chicken - washed down with a hearty, full bodied and quite frankly generous glass of red wine - the wine here is delicious and also very cost effective!

Crisp, spicy, succulent chicken that we ate quickly, maybe too quickly, but it was so damn tasty. Paired with a tomato, oregano and sweet onion salad that was both refreshing and juicy.

Tomato Salad Recipe


3 Beef Tomatoes
1 Sweet Onion
2 Tsp Olive Oil

Slice the tomatoes and onion thinly. Mix olive oil, oregano and salt to taste, and pour over the tomatoes and onions, mix thoroughly and then serve.

Alas my visit to Portugal came to an end, I admit I was a little sad to leave, I'd had such a fantastic time during my short stay, my stomach growled a little in protest on the way to the airport, so I stopped for a cafe and pastry before climbing aboard my plane, ah, perfecto!