this is the archive for the ‘algarving’ category:


the fish basket

back in berlin, we had a weekly delivery vegetables in a basket. i’ve always liked the concept and it made sense when we lived there… but around here, with a market brimming with fresh stuff practically around the corner (including bio produce), i can’t really justify the indulgence. that said, i do miss one of the aspects that i liked the most about the basket, which was that it removed the choice element, forcing us to improvise and try new things.

enter… fish.

fish is one of those things that took some time to acclimatise once we moved here. we knew we wanted to try eating more of it (hence #54 on the list) and the market is filled with fresh stuff, but frankly, for a beginner, it’s more than a little daunting to pick and choose what to try… so why not leave that choice to the local fishermen and go with whatever they catch that day? i’m a fan of the throw-yourself-to-the-deep-end approach sometimes.

and this is how we now we have a semi-regular fish basket! :) it comes from fuzeta, a seaside parish of olhão around 15km from here. whatever their group of fishermen catches the day before, it’s delivered in less than 24 hours, gutted, sealed in vacuum and covered in ice — and that’s what we’re having throughout the week.

we’ve only had a couple of deliveries so far, but it has been working brilliantly, and the feeling of supporting the local community on their traditional trades is a great one. plus, we’ve also been trying quite a few new species with yummy results. this week: cuttlefish, ray and horse mackerel.

let the adventurous culinary exploration continue! :)

walking on history, XI: a really old tree

when i started this walking on history series, i was inspired by all the sidewalk memorials we stumbled upon in berlin. but what about other kinds of history… like natural history?

there’s this olive tree a couple of towns over, in the middle of a touristic resort by the ria formosa. it’s huge and gnarly and falling apart a bit, the trunk wide and open enough to fit someone inside. and it’s also mind-blowing…

…because it’s one of the oldest trees in the world, with over 2200 years old. just let that sink in for a minute.

this tree was here before the visigoths invaded the peninsula from the north, before the moors took their place from the south, before the christians kicked them out. when portugal officially came to existence in the 12th century, this tree was already a thousand years old, bearing fruit and witness to it all. it “saw” the first sailors leaving towards the unknown a few centuries later, saw the empire rise and fall… and these days, it mostly sees tourists and hears their children’s laughter, splashing in the nearby pool.

it’s still here after all these years, like it’s always been, stretching our perspective of time and making us feel tiny in comparison. a few years ago, we planted a small olive tree on our backyard and now i wonder how long (hundreds of years? thousands?) it’ll live and what things it’ll see. i guess we’ll never know… and i’m ok with that. :)

festa das chouriças

the early months of the year are our hiking season. the days are bright and blue, and the sun is just warm enough that after a few kilometers on the hills, your coat or sweater ends up tied around your hips. by mid-january, the fields are covered in clover, and almond blossoms explode in white and pink confetti all around. it’s the perfect time to tie the shoelaces and do some wandering.

the season needs a start though, and for the past few years we’ve embraced the “festa das chouriças” (smoked sausage fair) in querença as the launch of our hiking season. on the third sunday of january, the little town gets together to celebrate their culinary heritage with a barbecue in their plaza. they bring out the sausages, wine and cheese, and people from all around algarve (including tons of foreigners) climb up the hill to taste all the deliciousness. it’s great!

this year’s event took place last sunday, and there we were for the calories and motivation. the hiking season is off to a good start!

analogue wednesday #118

the traditional chimneys of algarve, as seen through the holga’s plastic lens.

8 o’clock

we called her “8 o’clock” because that was around the time she landed on our balcony. a tiny little swallow that gingerly hopped onto paulo’s open palm and wasn’t eager to leave. she seemed okay, though perhaps a bit lost. she drank water, ate all the ants she could reach… and stubbornly refused to fly. our more knowledgeable bird-watching friends suggested we give a call to the animal rescue center in olhão, which we did and they promptly took over.

RIAS (aka the Centro de Recuperação e Investigação de Animais Selvagens) takes care of all sorts of wild animals from the southern region that were found hurt or mistreated. things like wildfires, birds falling off their nests, road accidents or the idiot that decides to keep wild animals as pets… they were happy to take care of our tiny swallow for a while, feeding it and patiently waiting for it to gain some strength to fly, before it was ready to be released. they gave us a tour of the place, and we got to peek at all the birds and other animals they were currently nursing back to health.

RIAS

RIAS

we were so impressed with their operation that we decided to sponsor 8 o’clock’s recovery, becoming her “godparents”. one of the perks of being an animal’s godparent at RIAS is being able to be there when it is released into the wild — so when they called us some time later and asked if we wanted to come and see it being released, we jumped at the opportunity!

8 o'clock!

it was over in the blink of an eye, but the feeling of having done something good lasted for a long time afterwards. it might be just one tiny swallow… but did you know that a single swallow can eat up to 300,000 mosquitos per year? i bet you wish you had saved a few of them too! :P