Centuries-old traditions and moments of conviviality around the fire that inspired our new Winter Retreat in Algarve.
The Algarve is not just a sun-beach destination. Surprisingly, winter is the best period to delve deeper into its Gastronomy and Traditions with pleanty of activities by the sea and in the fields that occur during this period.
We crafted this Retreat full of enthusiasm and with a great desire to make these special moments and people known, which enrich the winters in the Algarve and make it a unique time to visit the region away from the summer chaos and appreciate in its simplicity and authenticity.
Our top 5 list of things to do in Winter in Algarve
The magic of the gentle flow of Strawberry Tree (Medronho) fruit brandy, the sound of burning wood, the bursts of enthusiasm that bring families together around the Alembic. The Medronho distillation must be lived to be fully appreciated. Read more about Medronho distillation here. Number one on our top 5 list because it's a secular tradition, involving not only an incredibly flavoursome product, but because the moments spent around the Alambique, talking and listening to the stories of local people is just magic.
The Citrus Harvest
Winter is the season for citrus fruits in Algarve, although many people have forgotten about it due to the year-round availability in supermarkets of citrus fruits from South America, South Africa and other distant countries in the southern hemisphere...
The Algarve is blessed with exceptional climatic conditions, especially inland, suitable for citrus growing, such as large temperature ranges between night and day during the winter, which facilitate the growth and ripening of the fruit. (to find out more about the qualities of Algarve citrus fruits click here). We take part to citrus harvesting several times a month on our Picking Experience, following the ripening of different varieties like the Tangeras, the Bahia or Dalmau just to name a few, joining farmers on the picking and sometimes also in trasforming this swetness in delicious jams and chutneys. Drinking a fresh squeezed orange juice directly at the farm after the picking...goes straigt to number 2 on our top 5 list of things to do in Algarve during the winter.
Comfort Meals or Comida de Tacho, "pot meals", as they say...
Of the countless guisados (casseroles), cozidos (stews), estufados (pot roast?) , that feature in Algarve cuisine in winter, there are two that stand out for their use of typical Algarve coastal products in combination with seasonal ingredients: Caldeirada à Algarvia and Cataplana of Octopus with Sweet Potato.
Joining a Cataplana cooking class to learn all secrets about this iconc dish is one of the pleasure of a winter afternoon in Algarve.
There are several ways of cooking caldeirada in the Algarve, but they all have the same secret - the cooking time. The truth is that a caldeirada à Algarvia should not be made in a hurry so that the ingredients cook homogeneously and the sauce thickens.
The common way to prepare a good caldeirada pot is to arrange the ingredients in layers, as everything is cooked at the same time. The difference in the time it takes for each product to cook is offset by the layered distribution, as well as the fusion of flavours that is created by always keeping the pot covered. We dive into these meal on our Sundays walks to explore the highlands of São Marcos da Serra, a beautiful village behind Silves, surrounded by rolling hills. Here local families open the door of their homes to cook and share traditional meals with us....a true poetry!
Baking traditional christmas cake in a real wood-fired oven
Two times a year, one before Christmas and one in January, we organize a bakery class in a real bakery with a wood-fire oven, where professional bakers, António and Susana, teach us how to prepare the dough, how to decorate and most importantly, how to bake three different version of a traditional Portuguese Christmas Cake: The Bolo Rei.
A night of Fado and Wine
An unforgettable night, totally absorbed by the melodies of fado and Portuguese guitar while tasting quality wines in an old restored stable. What else to add...just a suggestion perhaps, reach the location by taxi so as to immerse yourself without any thoughts in the magical world of Fado and Wine. We organize this event on request for private groups of at least 8 people. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get a quote and more info about the 3 course Menu pairing.