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Mission Europe 2: The Cornucopia of Algarve

15 products!  That is the number of items I sampled in a workshop called Terra Madre Network: Cheeses, Cured Meats and Wines from the Algarve.  That doesn’t even include the wines from Quinta Dos Vales!

I had never heard of Algarve.  I have never been to Portugal.  It is now a place on my culinary-to-visit list.  Chef Augusto Lima representing Slowfood Portugal lead the taste workshop with lots of energy and enthusiasm.  He never sat, he paced in front of the audience and spoke fervently.  He spoke of a land has a poor economy but a rich wealth of culture and cuisine.  He explained that his people are “creative, because poor necessity makes creativity.”

Algarve is located in the Atlantic but their culture and cuisine is very Mediterranean in character.  Chef Augusto Lima who claims to “make passion” introduced each panel member and each product that graced our tables.  The representative of Azeites Monterosa explained that most of their oils are monovarietal and cold pressed.  I have the upmost respect for companies and individuals who go the extra mile.  Azeites Monterosa feeds imperfect olives to local pigs and any unsold oil is made into soap.

We met Rui Simeão from Rui Simeão Tavira Sal, an artisanal salt company with an enviable product.  This Flor de Sal is harvested traditionally thanks to the transmission of information over 5 family generations.  The Rui Simeão Tavira Sal has garnered many awards and justly so.  Mr. Rui Simeão himself proved to be very knowledgeable and charming.

Then there was Rosa Dias.  A woman with a story.  Her quiet manner and dedication to her products made her a magnetic force.  Everyone listened attentively to her anecdotes of product perfecting and finding inspiration.  She takes pride in her carob based products, all organic and all delicious.  I have currently been devouring a jar of carob almond butter from Quinta da Fornalha for breakfast each day and it is quickly and sadly diminishing.  I highly recommend you try some!

As for the 15 products I sampled:

  1. Roasted sweet potatoes with smoked morcilla (from acorn fed pigs) with olive oil and oregano
  2. Garlic bread, rustic and wonderful
  3. Blood sausage made with rice, cumin and coriander
  4. Goat cheese aged for 3 months
  5. Smoked black foot ham, aged 8 months
  6. Chorizo baked with wine, garlic and paprika
  7. Raw chorizo with wine, garlic and paprika
  8. Algarve dried fig
  9. Almond carob cake cookie
  10. Cookie made with carob and raw cane sugar
  11. Fig and carob truffle
  12. Carob cake with almonds
  13. Carob cake
  14. Chocolate, fig, carob bonbon
  15. Honey fig liquor

Barely able to catch my breath between bites, I managed to write down the whole list!  Yeah me!  Algarve proved a very interesting subject.  I hope you investigate it.  I know I will…and hopefully perhaps experience more of it in the future first hand.

Tenha um bom dia!

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