Coffee with a local in the Algarve

Wednesday, 15 February 2012 2:15 PM heads to the sunny southern coast of Portugal - the Algarve, to get the insider knowledge from local Ross Kelly.

So, you’ve brought me to your favourite cafe/bar – tell me about it.
Well, I’ve brought you to this one, but in fact most of the cafes along the beach fronts here are my favourites. They are well known for their fresh cakes and baked treats, including the world famous “pastel de nata” custard cakes, which are exported worldwide. The atmosphere in the cafes here is laidback and relaxed, people are in no hurry to rush off somewhere else.

Mmm... this is good, what are we drinking?
It‘s called a “Galao” and is very popular amongst locals and expats. It’s a 50/50 blend between freshly filtered coffee and white foamed milk, served in a tall long glass.

What are your favourite local dishes?
One of my favourite dishes is simply chicken & chips, which is the Algarve’s most traditional, popular and successful dish. This is where the likes of Nando’s recipes come from, and you just simply can’t go wrong with a tasty marinated grilled chicken. I also recommend pork with clams, which sounds like a weird combination, but actually blends quite well.

And where would you suggest I go to find these?
Fortunately you will be able to find these dishes in almost every single restaurant in the Algarve. If you drive along the coastline you will spot restaurants everywhere, from beach side to road side. Road side restaurants generally do not sound appealing, but due to their location they are extremely affordable and usually family run which means the recipes are finger-licking delicious.

The sky is blue and the sun is shining, what’s the best thing to do on a day like today?
The best place to go without a doubt is the beach or out to sea. If you’re into golf than maybe make the most of the great weather and play a round. There are lots of water sports activities, biking, horse riding and outstanding boat cruises to fill your day.

And if it rains?
You would have to be very unlucky to spend a rainy day in the 300 days of annual sunshine that the Algarve has to offer! But if this is the case then perhaps head to the capital, Faro, which has museums, galleries, exhibitions and plenty of history about the country. Portugal was invaded by the Romans and the Moors and traces of this history can be spotted across the Algarve.

If there’s one thing I should do while I’m here, what is it?
You should definitely visit the award winning beaches and depending on your taste, enjoy some local seafood such as clams or prawns over a nice glass of wine. There are so many fantastic beaches here, a few of my favourites are Vale do Garrao, Praia do Trafal and Falesia, but as long as get your toes in the sand, your mission is accomplished. 

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