Food Musings

A Winnipeg blog about the joy of preparing food for loved ones and the shared joy that travel & dining brings to life.

Daily Breakfast at Pestana Dom João II Beach Resort, Alvor Portugal


We have been on many holiday trip packages that included a hotel breakfast and the range of the offerings have been varied to say the least. The breakfast buffet at our Alvor hotel was one of the best we have experienced.

All you had to do as you walked down the stairs to the expansive dining room, was leave your room number with the host at the door. From there you picked up your plate and strolled through the variety of food stations.


First up was fresh fruit and yoghurt. There were always oranges and melon and then on a rotating basis would be apples, bananas, kiwi and pineapple. If you wanted fat or sugar free yoghurt that was in a different spot with Becel margarine and a couple of other items. You may also notice bottles of champagne in the foreground. This too was absolutely free but we actually never indulged. One of our hotel friends did and had to go back to bed for the morning. You could mix the champagne with orange juice if you desired. The juice as well as the coffee came out of machines. This struck us as odd because whenever we drove through the country side the orange groves were everywhere and absolutely laden with fruit.


Next were a couple of fresh vegetable items, meat and cheese. I fell in love with the cheese with the red rind and then didn’t sample any further. There was an entire section devoted to cold cereals , breads, buns and croissants. I sampled each one of the breads and then keep going back to a dark bread that looked like pumpernickel but had a very subtle taste. It toasted up beautifully.


From there you could enter another room with hot items: boiled eggs, potatoes, baked tomatoes (foreign to me as a breakfast offering), sausages and bacon-stacks of both.


At this station the staff would make you crepes, custom made omelettes or this case, freshly made scrambled eggs as I am not fond of eggs that have been sitting.


With all this selection it may seem strange to you that I had this simple breakfast almost every morning-toast, cheese and peach jam! I couldn’t get enough of it.


Although I did sample the scrambled eggs once and I attempted to make patatas bravas on another occasion.

Coffee as I said came out of a machine and I didn’t notice until later in the week that when you pushed the cappuccino button you actually received 1/3 coffee, 1/3 milk and 1/3 hot chocolate. No wonder I liked the cappuccinos so much.

If we had eyes bigger than our tummies, we might take an apple or other item with us when we left. The hotel was full of golfers and at one breakfast I saw a gentleman sneaking boiled eggs into his pocket! The breakfast was more than enough to hold you over to a late lunch.

Kath’s quote: “When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?” “What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?” “I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet. Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said.” ― A.A. Milne


Love never fails.

Algarve Portugal, Trip Report, End of Arrival Day and Full Day One


When we arrived in Faro in the Algarve the sun was low and by the time we pulled up to our hotel an hour latter, the sun had set. As a result, it was tricky at first to get our bearings. We would have explored the community by car but our rental agreement didn’t commence until the following day. So we decided to walk into town to find a place that we could purchase some essentials in case our luggage never arrived.  We followed one couple who veered west and we didn’t come upon anything, so we retraced our steps and went east. Since we had been travelling for hours and were getting hungry, I was concerned about getting really grumpy when we gave up the search and headed back to our hotel. Of course the next morning when we did have the rental car, we saw that we had not been too far off the mark. The walk invigorated us and we headed downstairs to the dining room.

An extensive buffet was set up but because my camera was in my luggage and my cell phone required charging and I didn’t have the correct adapter, I missed out on the pictures. Suffice it to say I remember chorizo sausage, salads, veggies, bread (lots of bread) and a dish that we later came to learn was called cataplana. It was a casserole of potatoes, clams and beef-an unusual concoction I thought.

The best thing about the $20 euro dinner was that it came with unlimited beer! Very good beer in fact. We very quickly became enamoured with Super Bock. Our poor server didn’t know who he was dealing with! I guzzled 3 small glasses and D 3 large ones. They really took the edge off and when we went up to our room, I had the brainy idea of ordering a bottle of vino tinto. It made the world seem like a less chaotic place and we settled in for our first night’s sleep. You will be happy to know that we didn’t finish the bottle.


When I awoke the next morning and looked up and past my toes, this was the glorious sight.


The sun was shining and our first views from our balcony were stunning!

We enjoyed the first of many breakfasts in the hotel (more about that later) and then walked into town to find a local market set up by the docks. We bought pasteis nata, figs, almonds, peach jam and cheese to keep for snacks in our room as it came complete with a little refrigerator. I spent the rest of the morning walking the beach while D put the finishing touches on acquiring a car.

We made the hour trip to Faro in enough time to do a bit more shopping. We bought electrical adapters, water, chips AND the best purchase of all…5 litres of Algarvian Red Wine for 5 euros. The wine was exceptional and try as I might I couldn’t finish it during the week we were in Portugal, so we ended up bringing it home with us!


Grocery shopping made us remember that we hadn’t eaten lunch so we wandered through the Faro mall trying to find a café as we had already planned to go out for dinner that evening. We nipped into this beautiful “fast food” place explaining that we wanted coffee and a pastry.


This is what arrived. We think that the meat was pork. The greens may have been kale and the starch….fried bread? Hunger overcame our hesitations and we shared the plate which came with a glass of red wine!


We went back to the café in the grocery store to enjoy a chocolate croissant and latte. Next stop was the airport where we retrieved our luggage.

By the time we got back to Alvor the sun had set again so we got the contents of our luggage all unpacked and went out for a late supper. We met two girls at our hotel from Kingston, Ontario, the province next to us in Canada. We hit it off and shared tips and stories about our discoveries. They had eaten the previous evening at a place called A Tascado Taberna and Restaurante. That was where we were headed when a local stopped us to encourage us to go to the restaurant that she was hired by. It too was A Tascado so we absolutely knew that would be our destination.



From the inauspicious looking façade we had no idea it would be so lovely a spot. When we dined that first evening (yes it was so good we went back!) there was only one table besides us. This was a Sunday evening. No wonder they are only open from Thursday to Sunday. Alvor is very sleepy if you go in January.

The brochure that we had been handed said that the restaurant would provide real Algarve cuisine like hake, black pig and Atascado steak and we did not know what any of these items would taste like. We could choose between canapés, tapas or full meals and they also served a traditional meal every day.


We started by sharing a fish soup which encouraged us  for the rest of our choices.


We shared two small plates, one being these amazing garlic prawns


and the other baby squid fried in olive oil. Both dishes were simply prepared and stellar. Little did we know that the best was yet to come.


Our shared entrée of Moules et Frites were the best Mussels I have ever had including a dinner in Paris! Butter, cream, garlic and flat leaf parsley-once again simple but superb! And by the way, the hand cut fries dragged through the cream sauce were pretty darn good too.


Upon mopping up our plates with the basket of delicious Portuguese water bread, this friendly sight arrived at our table- a treat from our server. This scene was repeated in many of the restaurants we visited. They would ask if we would care for bread and olives and we would find the cost of such, unexpectantly on our bill but they would give away free booze at the conclusion of the meal! We asked and were told that we were tasting Jin Jin (or so we thought). Upon researching the liquer so D could buy some for our stay, we discovered it was actually Ginjinha or simply Ginja. The drink is a Portuguese liqueur made by infusing ginja berries, (sour cherry) in alcohol and adding sugar together with other ingredients. Ginjinha is always served in shot form. We walked back to our hotel and finished the bottle of wine we had started the night before and dug into a couple of our treats that we had purchased in Faro. When we finally turned out the light is was very, very late.

When I wrote all this in my travel journal, I could not believe that it had happened all in one day. But such is the case with time spent in a country new to you. New sights, new tastes, new sounds, new aromas.

Kath’s quote: “If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay home”.-Unknown


Love never fails.


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