this is the archive for the ‘algarving’ category:


gum rock rose

these days, the hills of algarve are covered with the beautiful white flowers of esteva, or gum rock rose. everywhere you look, the landscape is peppered with an explosion of white dots!

the sticky bushes where they grow are tough and not much to look at, but the flowers are such delicate things, tissue-thin and blowing in the wind.

this is such a beautiful season!

salicornia

moving south and next to a salt marsh has introduced a dozen new species of animals and plants into our vocabulary. geckos and chameleons are cute, as are the skittish flamingos that eat all the pink algae in the salt ponds. but it’s not just new animals that inhabit these salty places, special plants too — like salicornia!

also called sea asparagus or pickleweed, salicornia is a halophyte, a plant that is adapted to salty environments. when you bite into it, the saltiness immediately floods your mouth… like eating bits of the sea! the flavour is pleasant enough and the surprise saltiness in every bite makes for a fun addition to salads and other dishes.

it’s a bit of a gourmet thing these days, which is funny because for much of history, salicornia was considered a worthless weed. it reminds me of a Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote on the back of one of my field notes:

“What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.”

sounds about right!

maios

in the north of portugal, the first of may is usually greeted with “maias”, showy yellow flowers that bloom around this time of the year which the local people hang in doors… but in the south, the tradition is much more convoluted! meet the maios:

they’re like “scarecrows” that the local people make and sit in the streets or in their doorstep, usually accompanied by a short rhyme telling of a wise tale or sometimes a bit of political criticism. we passed these in a nearby town that was filled with them in every corner… and so we had to stop to have a look. :)

analogue wednesday #136

river crossings.

dom rodrigo

yesterday at a restaurant over lunch, a british lady sitting with a group of friends on the table next to ours asked the waitress for a dessert recommendation, “something typical!“, she said. the waitress pointed to one of the few items on the menu that didn’t have a photo and said “try this — you’re going to like it. if you don’t, you don’t have to pay!“. she laughed and ordered it.

while we waited for our food to show up, i wondered what she had recommended… and then when she came over carrying a mysterious tinfoil pyramid, i knew she’d made a good choice. the group of friends ooooh’d and aaah’d at the contraption while she twisted and unwrapped the surprise package until an unappetising “nest” emerged. urged by the waitress, she hesitantly scooped a bit onto her fork… and then proceeded to gobble the whole thing in a flash! :)

dom rodrigo

dom rodrigo is a traditional sweet from the south of portugal, consisting of (what else!) egg yolks and sugar, sprinkled with a bit of almond. the yolks are turned into angel hair, delicate golden strands drenched in a syrupy concoction of almond and more yolks.

here’s the boy opening his:

it looks like a mess and would probably be a hard sell were it merely scooped onto a plate, but the fanciness of the package gives an almost dignified air to the whole thing.

not that it matters how it looks because the taste of it… goodness. those gooey strands are the thing of dreams! they melt in your mouth and leave nothing behind but sweetness, the faintest hint of cinnamon, and a crave for the next hit.

dom rodrigo

a couple of scoops later and it feels like it’s over before it even started. soon enough you’ll find yourself trying not to lick the paper!