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Posts Tagged ‘food’

Finding traditional food…

26 Jun

I want to windup my travelog on Portugal with this post. We usually do a bit of culinary research before visiting any foreign country. We often observed that in most touristic locations the local cuisine is customised for tourists. Sadly, many family run restaurants are taken over by investors. This lead to restaurants being pushed to be profitable by providing what tourists expects. This time we wanted to visit restaurants, that are only owned and run by families.

Our first of this kind is in a town called Loule and we got help from one of the shop keepers who readily suggested an authentic traditional Portuguese restaurant. It is called Bocage. It was bit warm on that day, it was nice to find this little cosy restaurant. This is run by a family and all of them work together. Mother of the family is chef accompanied by wonderful staff of kitchen Alinah. Daughter and father manage the customers. We introduced ourselves to the family and told our interests in traditional cooking. The chef was happy to take us to her kitchen and planned a grill platter for us.

Grilled fishes from Bocage

The staff, Alinah, surprised us with traditional Namaste. Later, we found out that she watched many hindi serials and picked up a bit of hindi. she was happy to strike a pose with a fish in grill to be posted in my blog. Here it goes Alinah..to your warm smile ūüôā

We thoroughly enjoyed our grill with salad and potatoes. The bill was moderately priced and worth all the penny.

Alinah in her kitchen

Our next visit was to a restaurant near Faro called ‘O chapparo’. We drove deep into residential area and finally found this hidden gem. The restaurant is run by husband and wife, who have a cute little baby. They only serve 2 menu for a day – no big hassle in choosing your food :). We tried both: Grilled chicken with fried potatoes and Gaucho (Brasilian Portuguese dish).

The cooked rice alone tasted good, along with chicken and cube fried potatoes was yummy. Angelika, the owner of the restaurant, suggested 2 of their desserts, drunken pear in wine and creamed cookies dessert. These two desserts were out of the world. The poached pear just melted in mouth  and wine sauce was delicious.

And the surprise part was the bill which costed less than half of the cost of dinner elsewhere.



Delicious drunken pear

Restaurant chef from O chapparo

Our next try was on our Anniversary day. We had two challenges to handle. One is to choose a family run restaurant and second, we don’t want to be disappointed with food on our anniversary day. While searching for restaurant we took a detour to this country restaurant between Lagos and Portimao. It is called Amigo de Baco.¬† We decided to check the menu and talk to owners beforehand. As menu was in Portuguese, the owner of restaurant helped us and patiently explained each one of them. Looking at her passion, we decided that it will be the right choice for us. we choose 3 of them from chefs suggestion. Prawns curry with rice, which is a fusion of brazil, African, and Portuguese. Beef steaks with black pepper sauce. Grilled jumbo prawns with a special sauce. They want to keep their sauce recipe as secret. The food was excellent and we couldn’t treat ourselves better than that on our anniversary. While chatting with the family, we came to know that the owner (around 80yrs young) personally goes to buy ingredients as early as 4am and has been in kitchen for many decades. The taste of food made us convinced that the family definitely has more secret ingredients in their recipes.

The dessert was Chocolate pudding and creamed cookies. Creamed cookies became our favourite, out of this trip.

Jumbo Prawns with secret sauce

Grilled Salmon with veggies and salad

Truly inspired by this 80yrs young man

No wonder, we love Portugal and its people!. These trips have given us plentiful experiences and we are moved by the warmth of the people. Moreover, if you are seafood lover, there is no other place than Algarve region in Portugal that can leave you wth lingering taste and memories. Certainly, some of greatest moments in our life :)…

 

Cataplana & Algarve Beaches

20 Oct

See food Cataplana.

Whats your traditional dish? A typical question any curious foodie would ask if one is in a foreign land. The famous one in Algarve region of Portugal is ‘Cataplana’. ¬†Its interesting to observe how the food is prepared and served. It also reflects the life style of Portugese fishermen. Cataplana is prepared by steaming mixed seafood, vegetables and other aromatic ingredients together in a special pot (also called Cataplana). Although simple, the dish tastes excellent. ¬†The process of steaming in a closed vessel retains all the juices from seafood & vegetables within the pot and it adds a natural taste to the dish. The fish doesn’t have to be perfectly cut. Just use whatever fish you may get it from sea. I liked the wholesome pot meal which is a balanced meal in itself. ¬†The sauce goes well with Portuguese bread.

Cataplana is a dish cooked with seafood(fish, shell fishes..) and some sausages along with onion, tomatoes,garlic, olive oil and white wine. There are slight variations on what goes as a main ingredient to this dish. Fish Cataplana or Shell fish cataplana or Meat Cataplana. I observed that the meat one is an adapted one over some period.

We tried it in a Restaurant called ‘Millennium’ in Lagos during our last year trip.. Soon the restaurant became our favourite and we visited again this time as well. It was surprising to find out the ingredients from restaurant staff. It is closer to one of the traditional dish, Meen Kuzhambhu, from south indian fishermen community. In India, the sauce is prepared almost in the similar way minus the wine, plus tamarind,and spice powders in a clay pot. In Algarve, Corriander leaves are used and in the northern Portugal, Parsley is used for garnishing.

We enjoyed the dish along with Ciabatta bread, which was very close to the bread served in Restaurants in Algarve.

Ingredients:

  1. Mixed fish – 500 gms
  2. Mussels – 100gms
  3. Prawns – 100 gms
  4. Onion – 2 big
  5. Tomato – 4
  6. Olive oil – 2 Tbs
  7. piri piri sauce -1 Tbs
  8. Garlic -5 pods sliced
  9. Salt for taste as required
  10. Coriander for garnishing
  11. White wine – 1/2 glass
  12. Boiled potatoes – 100 gms (cubed or sliced)

Victoria See Barsh fish, Salmon fish, Pangasius fish, Prawns and Mussels.

Method:

1. Place the Cataplana pot on heat, add oil and once it is hot add garlic and saute for half a minute.

2. Add onion and saute until it is transparent. Add 2 chopped tomatoes and saute for a minute.

3. Grind the 2 tomatoes in to puree and add it to the pot.

4. Now arrange the seafood in the order they cook. The one takes longer time should go at the bottom and which takes short time like prawns or Muschels should go on the top layer.

5. Add the fish pieces in a layer and sprinkle some salt. Then add potatoes, Muschel and prawns on top layer and sprinkle some salt for this.

6. Add piri piri and add white wine. Close the lid and cook it covered for 10 minutes on a gas stove. Garnish with corrainder and switch off the stove.

My ceramic stove took nearly 25 minutes to finish cooking whole dish.(you also get the special cataplana pot for the induction stoves.). It would perfectly fit for a gas stove.

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Algarve Beaches

The south and south west region of Algarve is surrounded by beautiful beaches with rocky cliffs. Literally every 0.5km to 1 km you may find a beach, which has its own beauty. Meia Praia in Lagos is one of the longest beach in Algarve covering 4kms. ¬†It is famous for water sports and wind surfing. The beach itself reminded me of ‘Marina’ beach in Chennai, India.

Meia Praia

Praia do Camilo Beach. This is one of our favorite beach with beautiful rocks and sea green water.

Praia do Camilo Beach.

Benagil Beach. A small beach but famous for Europe’s largest water caves (Will cover in next posts)

Faro Beach.

People enjoying last weeks of swimming period in Faro. (Swimming not allowed after September due to cold weather)

It was a beautiful experience to see Faro backwaters low tide and high tide changes. The boat happily floating during high tide and rests on sand during low tide as below.This change happens approx. every six hours.

Low tide Faro back waters.

Panoramic view of Porches beach.

Porches church and beautiful view of sea. Dont miss the beautiful sunset from here and bright fullmoon is an added bonus.

 

Kartoffelbrei turns into Dessert & (Charles Bridge – Prague Attractions)

18 Jul

I don’t know whether to call this a Fusion, a remake, a Czech recipe, or an experiment transforming into different yummy recipe…Today, I made Kartoffelbrei(Mashed potatoes) ¬†for our dinner. My daughter’s one of the most favorite dish in German cuisine. But after tasting a bit, she said it is not the one she used to enjoy in her KG and refused to finish the remaining. Reason, I made the mashed potatoes in low calorie version using low fat milk without adding butter and cream.

Our recent visit to Czech Republic  inspired me to learn their cuisine. One of those is Potato flatcakes. This traditional dish is prepared with few ingredients like Potatoes, Flour, Salt and Oil and topped with cream, cheese, youghurt and or fruit sauce.

As basic ingredients are same for Mashesd potatoes and Potato Flatcakes, without any delay I started making this cute little patties. For the toppings, I used low fat yoghurt and Jam. Jam used in this recipe were homemade by our dear friends, who are so nice to share specialties made from their garden.  I would like to thank them for sharing the delicious Jam with us.

Over to Recipe…

Ingredients

  1. Mashed Potatoes  Р1 cup
  2. White flour – 3/4 cup approx
  3. Oil for smearing on the flat cakes – few spoons
  4. Yoghurt – few spoons for topping
  5. Jam – few spoons for topping (Redcurrrant & Blackberry).

Method

1. Add the  mashed potatoes and white flour to make it like a smooth dough until it  is not very sticky.

2. Now roll the dough into small circles. you can also use a cookie cutter to cut in to your favorite shapes.

3. Heat the griddle and place these cakes and cook them on each side for 2 min. Smear few drops of oil on top of them while they are cooking.

4. Now arrange the done flat cakes on the plate and top it with your favorite Jam and yoghurt. Enjoy!!!

Tip: These potato flatcakes can be made little bigger and served with indian curries.

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CHARLES BRIDGE

One of the most famous attractions in Prague city of Czech Republic is Charles Bridge. The bridge tower  is a magnificent building which depicts the typical Gothic architecture. Speciality of this bridge, other than connecting the old city and Prague castle, is the alley of statues running through the bridge.  It was interesting to know that  people who touch  St. John of Nepomuk statue will get good luck and will return to Prague sometime in future. As every statue has a story behind it. You can find more information about each statue here in this links Southside Stautues & Northside Statues .

Tourists visiting Prague city should not miss Charles Bridge. Amazing  place to go for a walk and enjoy the art, music and little souveniour shops on the sides.

Some pictures from Charles Bridge……