this is the archive for the ‘foooood’ category:


rota do petisco

for a few years now, a local association has been organizing the rota do petisco, a food festival in which you can taste small dishes from 300 or so restaurants. instead of putting them together in a single location though, the event takes place over a month in the restaurants themselves, all over algarve. this year we finally gave it a go, and i was a bit surprised to discover how much i enjoyed it! :D here’s five things i like about it.

1. the passport! you need a passport to have access to the food, and though it’s just a little book, it’s actually kind of fun to collect the stamps and see where you’ve been. there’s also a picture/description of the dish, and useful information about where the restaurant is or when it is open (something we always forget to check). at the end of the rota, you can use it to vote for the best dish of the year.

2. every dish costs €3 (for a main course) or €2 (for sweets or desserts) and includes a drink, no matter how fancy the place is. i really like this simplicity, as it removes all the guesswork and uncertainty out of the equation and makes it really easy to give new restaurants a try.

3. the dishes are small, usually focused on local stuff, but very tasty! one probably won’t fill you up, but if you have 2, or 2 + 1 dessert, you should be good for that meal. this gives people the incentive to try different nearby things, in a more informal setting that doesn’t require sitting down for a long time, like a proper meal. i’ve seen groups of friends hopping from one restaurant to the next, in a sort of happy “rally da tascas” (but with less drinking).

4. while you wait for the food, you’re encouraged to draw! the restaurants have paper placemats that double as drawing paper, and this year they requested fishes. our talents are a bit questionable… but it’s a fun way to spend the time while we wait for the food. the restaurant owners will collect these at the end of the meal and send them to the organization, who will exhibit some.

5. and finally, the timing! i like that it happens in the shoulder season, just before the heat and the wave of tourists come. it would be impossible to pull this off in the summer, when restaurants are full to the brim, and stress is high for the chefs and waiters. as it is, it feels like a very relaxed event, something that happens at algarve’s own pace.

so that’s it! it’s been a brilliant month, we’ve tried quite a few new restaurants, and found some that we shall be returning to. see you again next year, rota do petisco! :)

çılbır

i usually stay away from milk-stuff, but çılbır is one of those things that makes the lactase pills worth it. we discovered it first in berlin some years ago, but as soon as we knew its name, we started seeing these turkish eggs everywhere. i finally gave it a try myself when i stumbled on a recipe on all about eggs, and it was a-ma-zing!

it takes 10 minutes to assemble: mix crushed garlic with yoghurt, poach eggs, foam some butter with chili flakes. then put everything in a bowl and voilà! serve with bread if you like, or just eat it spoon by spoon, every single one of them a delicious mix of yoghurt and butter. :)

we like this garlicky yoghurt with spiced butter concoction so much that it has quickly become a staple around here. nigella has a video recipe on youtube — give it a try!

khao soi

khao soi is a northern thai dish that i had never heard about before but which was everywhere in chiang mai and super yummy:

it’s a mix of soupy egg noodles topped with crispy noodles, and meat or egg. double noodles sounds like a winner already, but the mixture of curry and coconut milk of the broth makes this dish. you can add stuff on top, but in the end we concluded it’s just complicating something that is perfect already. why bother?

it’s just sooooo good that i wonder how come pad thai gets all the fame outside of thailand, but not khao soi?

the cooking class

turns out, thai cooking is a lot of prep work, followed by a very quick cooking process. everything needs to be minced, peeled, squeezed, measured and mashed beforehand — mise en place is everything here.

afterwards, it’s a matter of heating up a wok and throwing stuff there in a specific order. voilá!

under the close supervision of our host/chef, we prepared soups, curries, stir fries and even mango sticky rice, all deliciously filling but way more stuff than we could eat…

… so we ended up bringing pad thai and some other noodle dishes home for dinner. :)

we were also treated to a tour of their beautiful gardens, where the host grows a lot of the ingredients for the lesions like chillies, mushrooms and ginger. he had all kinds of plants there, and it was pretty cool to see a coffee tree or taste stevia leafs for the first time.

near the end of the tour, we were introduced to this funky plant that turns its leaves when they’re touched:

they’re so cool!! aptly named “touch-me-not”, they’re a common weed in thailand. after this encounter, we started touching lots of plants on the side of the road, just to see if we could make that trick again! :D

a trip to the market

going to markets and supermarkets has long been one of my favorite activities abroad. they can be a overwhelming at times, but i still enjoy looking at all the produce and finding new things. here’s a quick walk around a market near chiang mai.


rice, rice, rice! glutinous, fragrant, brown… it all has a different purpose.

aaaaaall the veggies! some are funky and some are familiar. i was especially impressed by all the ginger-like roots they seem to use on their cooking, and which i had never seen before. oh! and those little green balls are fresh peppercorns… who knew they looked like that?

curries are what we associate with thai cooking, but making your own curry paste is hard work as we later discovered. so at the market, you can buy them already made or give your specifications to the seller, and they’ll make you a batch.

stinky but delicious fish sauce!

the variety of noodles they sell makes the pasta in a portuguese supermarket pale in comparison.

the fresh section was also well stocked, both with meat (the whole nose-to-tail), fish and frogs! to keep the flies away, ribbons of plastic were attached to the skeletons of fans, and made to spin above the meat. it’s pretty efficient actually, and super hypnotic! :D

so now we got the produce — let’s go cook it!