A necessary introduction
In recent years, Gastronomy in Algarve has gained a lot of traction as a powerful tool to introduce worldwide travellers to local food and traditions. Unfortunately, every council has launched several festivals along the year, generating an excessive number of events, creating also a lot of confusion. Quantity has been the only driver at the expense of quality and attention to details. The idea behind many of the Festivals and Events around, is that you take a typical product from the region, you come up with a Menu focused on that product and finally ask the restaurants of that town to promote this Menu for one or few days. That's not exactly what a "Food Festival" should be...
So, in this post, we only mention the ones that are still unique and that are really worth visiting.
1) Feira dos Enchidos in Monchique (March)
Enchidos or chouriços are an unmissable part of the local diet. In Algarve, sausages are predominantly made of pork meat. Keep an eye out for the Iberian black pig, a.k.a. porco preto, which is the most flavoursome. The events run in the cozy and intimate town of Monchique, perched on the Algarve hills. If you are a real foodie, you have to try our culinary tour that we run every Friday from November to June to dive deeper in Monchique gastronomic heritage. Check the availabilities and book the tour here.
2) Rota do Petisco (Spread across the Algarve from September until mid October)
A brilliant initiative from Teia D’Impulsos association, born 8 years ago and always improved year after year. Today, it is one of our favorite festival, because you have the chance to try many different dishes on the same day for just 3 euros each. Jumping from one restaurant to the other, it's funny and tasting at the same time, perfect for getting a glimpse on Algarve gastronomy without emptying your wallet!
More informations about the town, restaurants and dishes proposed, by clicking here: Rota do Petisco 2021
3) Arrebita Food Street Festival in Portimão (August)
The event in 2021 has seen 15 chefs preparing a sweet or savoury dish especially for the festival, using local produce to make mouthwatering regional dishes as well as international classics. The dishes cost between €5 and €8 and are served to eat ‘on the go’.
Held outdoors at the town’s Praça da República square and adjacent streets, it features one-way corridors in order to avoid large gatherings.
The food is be served by the chefs directly from some of the town’s stores, such as shoe shops or opticians, in a bid to bolster local businesses which “have been hit hard by the pandemic”, says the local council, organisers of the festival alongside the innovative and explosive team of Amuse Bouche, event promoter of this kind of festival in several towns in Portugal.
“Stimulating the local economy and commerce, breathing new life into towns and encouraging national tourism” are the main goals of this new event.
4) Fatacil in Lagoa (August)
This huge fair takes place every in Lagoa at the Fairs and Exhibition Park. It’s the biggest fair in the Algarve about everything this region is able to offer, from handcrafts, touristic services, agriculture and regional industry and this makes it interesting, for both holidaymakers, locals and people moving to Algarve to live. Entertainment and gastronomy every day, from morning to midnight for more than a week. More infos about the dates here: FATACIL 2020
5) Bolo de Tacho (Monchique, 1st of May)
This cake and its celebration in Monchique is linked to the culinary tradition of farming families. It originated in medieval times. The recipe was perfected in the Convent of Nossa Senhora do Desterro (founded in 1631) and developed by the Franciscan friars. The cake was eaten on walks in the fields, and it was also the custom to offer it to visitors. Every year we organize a cooking workshop to learn all secrets of this special cake that you can book here.
It is eaten especially on the 1st of May (May Day), accompanied by medronho brandy. The May tradition is reflected in the language itself. It is said, for example, to go "Desmaiar" in the countryside (a word of play that in english would sound like "to go may". We "attack the May", which means that first thing in the morning we eat a slice of cake with a glass of aguardente, "so that the May does not enter". As the recipes, from family to family, have their own secrets, the custom on the 1st of May was for neighbours to exchange their cakes and decide which was the best.
5) Festival da Sardinha in Portimão (AUGUST)
Portimão’s famous sardine festival is held in August and attracts many people from all over the country. Portuguese can't wait to listen to their favourite singers while tasting the best Sardine in the world (as people from Portimão strongly believe). Watch out this video from a Master Grilling during Portimão Festival jsut to get an idea about how serious they are about this special food: VIDEO
6) Festival do Perceve in Vila do Bispo (End of August or September depending on the seafood availability)
This fair is an amazing event for the shellfish lovers, but also a great chance to taste this excellent seafood: goose barnacles. Its ocean flavour is something you would die for! The organisation is managed by ‘Associaçao dos Marisqueiros de Vila do Bispo’, who are very proud to offer very fine quality seafood, which is a gem of the local gastronomy.
7) Sweet Potatoes festival in Aljezur (November)
A very nice fair celebrating a star of regional pastry: the sweet potato.The ‘batata doce’ from Vicentine Coast is a high quality produce, guaranteed by the IGP label and has great reputation among estimators.Enjoy an extraordinary atmosphere with a delicious smell of baked or fried potatoes rising and spreading all around, within an unconventional frame of Algarve, during the fall, when the days are sunny, but not hot.Experience a traditional fair, where the families used to go to buy some ‘doce de batata doce’ to eat on the go and meet people in the streets, which reminds us of past times. Know more about traditions and nutritional properties of this delicious product
8) Semana Gastronómica in Messines (November)
A recent initiative, but quite interesting, considering that Barrocal (the inland Algarve) has a lot to offer in terms of authenticity and traditions, especially for those who are escaping the mass tourism of the coast. That's why we run our E-Bike Tour of Rural Algarve in this area, still unspoiled.
Every restaurant in the parish of Messines proposes one or two dishes reminding their grandparents culinary abilities. Food proposed is very difficult to find any other time of the year because it takes many hours to prepare and is not very rentable from the owner perspective...