Join me from December thru April for an inspirational food journey through this land of great food and fantastic wine.
You can enjoy one of my fun, informative and oh so tasty 1-day culinary workshops. Don’t see anything quite what you’re looking for? Have me create a custom itinerary for your interests.
Wine & Cheese Taste Feast
Meet me at Olhão market where we’ll start the day with a coffee, then proceed to shop for cheeses, breads & olives. We’ll proceed to my country abode and spend a leisurely lunch and afternoon sampling our purchases, plus wines and Ports. We’ll discuss Portugal’s wide range of cheeses and wines, talk about the unique food culture of this small, dynamic country and thoroughly a food-focused day.
Market Ramble & Meal Making
We’ll meet and tour the Olhão market, one of the regions best. Over coffee we’ll talk about what seasonal food delights are on offer and develop a menu for our meal. We’ll then shop for ingredients and proceed to my country abode where we’ll cook a collaborative meal. A light lunch will be served as we cook. I’ll demonstrate local food prep techniques. We’ll feast alfesco (weather permitting) on our dishes as a late lunch/early dinner, with appropriate wines and spend the early evening watching the sun set.
Regional Culinary Explorations,
Water, Sky and West Coast Magic
We’ll begin our day’s explorations by heading into the hills for a visit to historic Caldas de Monchique, a revitalized Victorian Spa Village. If we’re lucky, they’ll be cooking bread in the massive wood-fired outdoor oven! Then we’ll head cross country to the famous wild West Coast. We’ll visit spectacular beaches and drive along the cliffs for stunning views of water and waves, and perhaps encounter surfers and kite surfers en route. We’ll rattle around Aljezur, drive up to its Castelo and lunch in a picturesque restaurant. Continuing down the coast we’ll drive to Sagres and Cape St. Vincent for more stunning views, refreshments and a visit to the whaling harbor. Depending on time and interest we can visit a 12th Century Church established by the Knights Templar or visit a sheltered beach, stopping to visit a Neolothic Standing Stone. Count on coffee and perhaps an aguardente under the crescent of palm tress before heading back home.
Saturday Mercado and Roman Roots
We’ll drive through salt flats and farmer’s fields to arrive at Olhao’s Saturday Morning Mercado. Situated right by the Rio Formosa inland waterway, this is a gem for food lovers. One building is filled with the freshest possible fish and seafood. Another fruits, vegetables, meats and cheeses. Surrounding both buildings are local farmers who supplement the offerings with their colourful stalls bursting with local produce, honey, flowers and entertainment. After Mercado we’ll wander into Olhao which is a rabbit warren of alleyways and small squares that reflect its strong connections to North Africa. If we’re lucky we’ll see one of the old fishermen’s wives who still haunt the back streets garbed entirely in black. We’ll lunch in Olhão and then head inland to Estoi where we’ll view the Milreu Ruins, site of a 3rd century Roman villa. You’ll see Roman baths, well preserved mosaics and a house that has been continually occupied since Roman times. We’ll close our afternoon by scooting a little further into the hills to a small town renowned for its cork production and a late afternoon refreshment stop.
A Sample of Spain, a ‘different’ Portuguese Town and Eastern Beauty
We’ll explore the furthest eastern reaches of the Algarve, take a short ferry ride across a tidal river and indulge in a spot of that uniquely Canadian love of cross-border shopping, this time in Spain. So different in terms of language, food, architecture and people’s character, it is obvious upon arriving in Ayamonte that you are in a different country. After a good ramble through this shopping haven, we’ll head back to Portugal and lunch in the Naval Club right on the shores of the Guadiana River. Then we’ll walk into Vila Real de Santo Antonio and discover a town built on the grid system, rather than having grown organically with the usual higgledy-piggledy assortment of alleyways and squares. Vila Real is a survivor of the 1755 earthquake and was completely washed away in the tsunami that followed. It’s a great place to shop for housewares if you are so inclined. Then we’ll head West, stopping at a number of points along the coast where you’ll get to view the glories of the inland waterways before arriving in Tavira and spending time in this gem of a small city.
Custom Culinary Tours
– your interests, your timeframe
- Discover great, off-the-beaten-track restaurants specializing in delicious, authentic, honest Portuguese cuisine, one of the greats in the ‘slow food’ tradition
- Explore the local wine culture through tastings or specialized pre-meal seminars
- Learn about Port, Aguardente (local brandy), and other little known local liquid specialties
- Be amazed at the variety and quality of local cheeses, breads, olives and sausages
- Visit local orchards, bakeries, farmer’s markets, salt makings, and hill towns
- Listen to local music as you dine
- Become immersed in culinary and cultural magic
Gwen McCauley is your guide
- A knowledgeable, experienced Algarve & Portugal expert since 1975
- Supportive & fun-loving, Gwen delights in sharing her vast knowledge of local food, culture, people and places with newcomers
- Max 3 guests; trips of 1-7 days
- A welcoming atmosphere for people traveling solo
- A schedule that allows a leisurely start to each day, plus time to explore on your own
- An itinerary that meets your specific needs, blending food & dining with culture, history, sightseeing or shopping, as you prefer it
- Local transfers, meals, gratuities, local tours & house wine included
Taste the joys of life as you discover a little-known cuisine and explore a bucolic world that is rapidly disappearing. A Taste of Algarve gets you off-the-beaten track. You’ll experience life as we long to live it: slowly, with humour, goodwill, great food and gentle people. Then again, you may prefer the more cosmopolitan side of the Algarve filled with trendy shops, galleries and cafes. Whatever your preference, we’ll make it happen. You’ll have time to ramble around villages that tumble down hillsides, to seek out hidden beaches, to explore whimsical shopping arcades and to settle into small cafes where staff encourage you to stay awhile and watch the world go by, as well as dine well in family owned and operated Portuguese cuisine restaurants.
Fun and instructive wine, Port and food information is provided throughout your trip. We’ll visit local farmer’s markets as well as bakeries, hill towns and glorious beaches.
The Algarve Region
Rich with history dating back to Neolithic times, depending on your preferences, you’ll see ancient standing stones, medieval churches and castles, Roman ruins as well as modern markets, art galleries and craft stores.
Count on quiet, peaceful evenings after dinner – if that’s your preference. Or head out to enjoy the nightlife just down the road.
Whether you are a novice or seasoned traveler, if real food is an important part of your life, you are sure to love A Taste of Algarve.
Click any of the hotlinks below for more information. Book early. Space is limited!