Amarguinha is a traditional Algarvean drink that’s produced from an old recipe for bitter (amarga) almond liqueur. Ideal as an aperitif, digestif or in a cocktail, Amarguinha is aged in Amazon oak barrels and tastes best served cold or with an ice cube and lemon. The brand Amarguinha is owned by wine producer Companhia das Quintas.
The oldest living tree in Portugal is over two millennia old – an olive tree that lives in Santa Luzia, near Tavira. Although not as well known as its neighbouring Alentejo for producing olive oil, the Algarve is rich in olive groves and is wellknown for its Maçanilha olive. In 2000, the Swede Detlev von Rosen began producing high-quality olive oil in Moncarapacho. Since then, Monterosa has won countless prizes and has even graced the tables of Queen Silvia of Sweden and France’s former first lady, Carla Bruni.
Founded in 1968 by the Irish painter Patrick Swift, Porches Pottery has helped keep alive the traditional art of pottery in the Algarve. From vases to countless ornamental pieces and traditional azulejo tiles all painted by hand, this pretty space has a bit of everything, including a café/bar that serves seasonal dishes and is decorated with tiled panels hand-painted by Swift himself.
Chic Monchique Water
The benefits of Monchique water have been recognised since the Romans settled in Portugal, but, in 2008, they received the gourmet treatment with the launch of Chic – Monchique. Owned by Sociedade de Água de Monchique (whose expansion plans were revealed earlier this year), Chic water stands out for its elegant bottle and alkaline content, whose properties are beneficial for the human body.
It was once one of Portugal’s major industries, with hundreds of factories exporting delicious fish in vintage-looking tins, with designs dating back to the First World War. While there were around 200 fish canning factories in the Algarve in the 1940s, today only a handful remain. The industry, however, is re-emerging and reinventing itself: the historical Algarve brand La Rose returned to the market 40 years after closing its doors, and Companhia de Pescarias do Algarve and Saboreal were two brands to debut in the tinned fish business – the famous conservas – in 2015.
Medronho & Melosa
Medronho is the famous firewater that has been distilled manually in the Monchique hills for decades. The clear liquid, with a fruity smell and taste and an alcohol content of between 40 and 50%, is traditionally drunk with a bica (espresso). A sweeter version is melosa, where the addition of honey is further enhanced by a touch of lemon and cinnamon.
Perhaps the best way to describe muxama is that it is a kind of tuna presunto, or cured ham. Produced from the loin of tuna that has been cured and salted – a technique used by the Phoenicians and the Romans more than 2000 years ago –, muxama is prized as a snack (with bread and olive oil) or in more elaborate creations. Conservas Dâmaso in Vila Real de Santo António produces this delicacy.
Queijo de Figo Fig Cheese
Rather than fig cheese we should say sausage in this case, referring of course in both cases to theshape. Compressed dried figs mixed with almonds and other local ingredients are perhaps the most typical of Algarve of sweet treats. There are many variations but we love these “sausages” from Casinha da Avó, in various different flavours. Our favourite is the fig and almond with carob variety shown in the photo, look out for them at local fairs, events and weekend markets.
Portugal remains the world leader in the cork industry – thank you, Corticeira Amorim –, but Algarve cork has shone on its own accord on the international stage, thanks to Sandra Correia and her brand Pelcor, created in 2003. It’s in São Brás de Alportel that the brand extracts the fine cork leather that is exported worldwide and which has graced the catwalks of Paris in the form of elegant handbags.