Lying outstretched on a sun lounger alongside my private pool at Four Seasons Fairways in Quinta do Lago, I relaxed in the Portuguese sunshine on my terrace feeling absolutely stuffed!
For I had just enjoyed filling fish dishes at 2 Passos (Dos Passos), a restaurant on Praia do Ancão, famed for its tiger prawns. This quirky restaurant perched on stilts is accessed by a boardwalk and, inside, floor to ceiling windows make the most of the amazing views across the Atlantic Ocean – out towards North Africa.
Dos Passos was the first place on my gastronomic Algarvian adventure.
Naturally, tiger prawns were consumed at Dos Passos and washed down with a bottle of locally-produced Joao Clara white wine, before a fishy feast of crab, salmon, white bait, clams and (my favourite) seabass.
A walk along the deserted sandy beach at Ancão helped work off the Portuguese carob cake dessert which is a great alternative to chocolate!
I stayed in nearby Quinta do Lago – an affluent resort located a 25-minute drive from Faro airport and 165 miles south of Lisbon – but unlike many of Four Seasons Fairways’ guests and members, I was not there to swing a golf club. Instead I wanted to sample the culinary delights of this area which is emerging as a foodie’s paradise.
That evening, after freshening up in my recently-revamped three bedroomed villa at Four Seasons, I dined at Bovino, a steakhouse that’s only a 4-Euro taxi ride away. Dining in the restaurant that has a cosy country pub feel with a luxurious twist, I enjoyed the Bovino burger cooked medium-rare, just the way I like it, while my fellow guests tucked into a selection of signature cuts, including fillet, rump and ribeye.
The following day I signed up for a guided walk along a 15km stretch of the Barranco do Velho (hill of the old men) route. A stark contrast to the Algarve’s beaches, this mountainous route winds its way up and down the landscape through oak forests. It’s just 20km outside the city but feels much more remote. On the walk, I learned that Portugal is the world’s biggest cork producer as we were shown the trees where the cork is harvested – and I could not resist buying quirky cork postcards to send home!
⚠️BEFORE YOU BOOK ⚠️
At present, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office currently advises British nationals against all but essential international travel, unless the country is on the exemption list.
At the time of publication, Portugal is not on the list. Travel insurance is likely to be invalid and you will have to quarantine on return.
There is no date set for Portugal to be added to the list. Restrictions are subject to change at short notice, visit gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice for updates.
In Portugal, you will be subject to local Covid restrictions.
There’s a beautiful little restaurant at the start of the route on the N2 Faro to Chaves road, called Tia Bia. Run by local chef Nuno and wife Catia, Tia Bia serves traditional homemade food in pots – perfect for sharing – symbolising the ‘Algarvian way of life’. From deer to wild boar to pork cheeks, Tia Bia’s menu is a must-try for meat-lovers (vegetarian options are available).
In nearby town of Loule, another walking challenge awaited me. This time, I was joined by local tour guide Joao who spoke about the history of the salt mines underneath the town; pointed out the Arab influences; and explained how Loule’s Projecto Tasa is keeping crafts (like basket-weaving) alive before we pop into Café Calcinha, a stunning Brazilian-style coffee shop with marble-topped tables and art deco interior that dates back to the 1920s.
Shattered, I arrived back at Four Seasons Fairways for drinks with fellow guests (including former BBC sports commentator Steve Rider, a member of the resort) before I dined in one of its two on-site restaurants, Vivo. Diners can also enjoy Michelin-star-quality cuisine at Amara.
As if I had not tried enough delicious cuisine, the next day, I ended my ‘eating my way around the Algarve’ trip with a Fisherman’s Food Tour around Faro with entrepreneur Joana Martins, who helped launched the business three years ago.
‘Five hours seems a long time to be walking around the city for’, I thought to myself. However, this tour – which included around eight food stops – was both engaging and interesting, time just flew by! The first stop was a traditional snack bar in the Mercado Municipal (market) where, I was reliably informed, the Mayor visits once a week, then on to a bakery, a cheese producer, a café, a restaurant and a museum. Our final stop was a private property where we demolished our desserts on top of the city wall looking out over southern Portugal’s multi-inlet lagoon system, just as the sun began to shine. Life does not get much better than this!
For foodies, the golfers’ paradise of the Algarve is a place where you can enjoy traditional cuisine cooked to perfection by people who are as passionate about food as they are about its origin. Head here for an un-fore-gettable gastronomic experience!
There are plenty events coming up in the Algarve this summer including: the Seafood Festival in Olhao (August 10-15) and Noite Branca (White Night) in Loule (end August).
7 nights at Four Seasons Fairways (www.fourseasonsfairways.com) starts from 1,200 Euros (£1,045) for a 2 bedroom villa (sleeps 6) with choice of pool or jacuzzi and access to the main clubhouse, restaurants and facilities.
Flights available from Glasgow (EasyJet) or Prestwick (Ryanair) to Faro for around £150 return.
Book a 5-hour market and Fisherman’s food tour at www.eatingalgarvetours.com (89 euros per person).
For more information on the destination visit www.visitalgarve.com