Sunday Sevens #95 6.8.17

Hello there, please excuse the brevity of this week’s Sunday Sevens. I had loads to tell you about our trip to Portugal but the slowest wifi known to man meant I couldn’t write it on holiday (think 12 hours to upload a single photo) and sadly, since we returned yesterday, I have been rather poorly with a very unpleasant bug. I’m starting to feel a little more human this evening so here goes…

Holidays start here!

Last Saturday we arrived on the beautiful Algarve coast near to Alvor. After a five and a half hour drive from Gibraltar it was great to be back in the same place where we holidayed two years ago. It’s still as picturesque as I remembered.

Lovely Lagos

Just a 20 minute drive from our resort is the town of Lagos, we didn’t visit it last time, so paid it a visit to see what was there. With heaps of character and narrow streets, along with moorish architecture it reminded me a lot of Tarifa, which is close to Gibraltar on the Atlantic coast.

Cheers!


Dinner at a beachside restaurant, or chiringuito as they are known close to us in Spain, meant a chance to sample some beautiful food and a gorgeous Algarvian rosé as the sun went down.

Back to Alvor

Our favourite destination on our last visit to this part of the world is the fishing village of Alvor. So quaint and characterful, and home to lots of lovely places to eat!

Taberna 

Talking of eating… While we were in Portugal, we timed our visit to coincide with friends who were visiting from England. One of our friends is Portuguese and has been visiting this part of the world for her family summer holidays for 40+ years. She took us back to her favourite restaurant, ‘Taberna’ in Portimão for a beautiful meal in a truly atmospheric place.

Beach life

I have never visited tropical beaches, but I can’t imagine they are any more beautiful than the beaches of the Algarve, with dramatic cliffs, clean sand and crystal clear turquoise water. We spent many happy hours jumping Atlantic waves and building sand castles.

Heading home

If you have seen the news lately about the heatwave in Central Europe, you will know things have been pretty warm in these parts of late. We set off at 8:15am in an attempt to beat some of the heat, but it wasn’t early enough. The sun was beating down on us just over an hour later as we crossed the bridge from Portugal back into Spain. The highest temperature I read on the car dashboard thermometer was 41.5 C as we crossed the hills south of Jerez. It isn’t a patch on the record highs elsewhere in Europe, but it was rather toasty.

Sunday Sevens is a weekly blog series for bloggers which was created by Natalie at Threads & Bobbins. It features seven (or perhaps more) photos from the last seven days of your week. If you are a blogger and would like to join in with the Sunday Sevens community, then pop over to Natalie’s blog to find out how you can get involved.

Calentita 2017


Calentita This is a baked pancake-like dish, the Italian farinata, also known in Genoa as fainá. It is made with chickpea flour, water, olive oil, salt and pepper. The word calentita is the informal diminutive of the Spanish word caliente which means “nice and warm (or hot)”. 
Wikipedia

Visitors to Casemates Square early on last weekend couldn’t fail to spot the signs that something interesting was about to happen. The Calentita food festival is now in it’s 11th year and after a hiatus of six years, we decided to pay it a visit this time. On our return to Casemates on Saturday evening it was clear that many others had decided to come too.

Back when we had our first Calentita experience, seven years ago, it was a much smaller event to the one we visited this weekend. It featured a number of food stalls selling a wide variety of foreign food choices and was centered around a stage in Casemates Square. 

On the night, we joined some friends on a large table at one of the nearby restaurants and made an odd foray towards the food tents. With two small children (one in a buggy) the whole thing was an assault on the senses, loud, crowded and really not the best or easiest environment to steer little people through, and the long queues at the food tents put us off waiting to try the various delicacies on offer.

That said, many of our fellow festival goers had a thoroughly good night. Those with older children (who revelled in being trusted to head off to the stalls without parental supervision and buy their own dinner) and those who came without children had a great time. 

We tried one more time, the following year, and gave it up as a bad job. Fast forward to 2017 and we had three children to bring with us and they were all a good deal older. The venue itself had changed as much as our family in the intervening years – it had grown bigger. 


Now the event not only covers Casemates Square (albeit in a less crowded way and with a  less densely populated tent arrangement) and spills over into the area beyond the Grand Casemates Gates and into the Market Place, Bus Station and beyond. My word, what a difference that means for overcrowding – a huge improvement for us to start with.

This next photo isn’t very clear but you should be able to make out the large stage at the far end (complete with performers) and a very long table in the foreground. It was busy with people but there was room to move – what a huge improvement.


Now down to the nitty gritty – food! (Well it is a food festival after all.) There were over 40 different food tents to choose from catering for all tastes from hot dogs to hog roasts, Pad Thai to popcorn and Calentita to craft beers.

We decided that the best way to deal with the queues and three hungry boys was to split up, I queued for Margarita pizza slices (we have one Little Postcard who isn’t overly adventurous in the food stakes) while Mr Postcard headed to an Asian stall and returned with a lovely samosa for me (below) and quite possibly the best onion bhaji ever to have tickled my tastebuds.

We headed out of the Square and into the Bus Station area beyond, which now had craft stalls standing where the buses usually wait. All along the road were many more stalls on both sides. 

I was on a mission; one Little Postcard was adamant he wanted noodles. I joined the queue at the Phillipino food stall and waited for my turn only to discover they had run out! I got a couple of pork kebabs though and they were delicious. One kept the wolf from the door for our noodle lover as we continued on our quest.

Bingo! Noodles!


They were even cooked in front of us…


They got a big thumbs up, as did this rather tasty spring roll!


For the grown ups there was plenty of choice in the beverage department, with any amount of drinks to wet your whistle.

There was even a cocktail bar sited atop the old sea walls which encircle this part of town (below). Needless to say we didn’t visit and made do with a rather nice lager in a plastic cup.

Heading back into Casemates Square, and the crowds were growing. A number of local bands took to the stage to entertain the Calentita-ites and the atmosphere was buzzing. We did sample other culinary delights but I can’t for the life of me remember what they were – suffice to say, we didn’t go home hungry.

As the sun began to set, we took our leave of Calentita for 2017. Little legs were wilting and it was time for our exit.

Calentita 2017 was by far our best Calentita to date as a family. As an event it was barely recognisable from our previous encounters and overwhelmingly for the better. Hats off to the organisers who clearly have honed the festival over time.

As a family with young-ish children, this year’s event doesn’t compare to our previous failed attempts at gastronomic family unity. I would recommend anyone who hasn’t tried it before to give it a go next year.

PS I have one shameful admission… almost eight years living in Gibraltar and I have yet to sample actual Calentita (hangs her head in shame). I promise I will put that right.

A final postcard from Portugal 

  
Today’s the day we wave goodbye to Portugal and head back home to Gibraltar. We have had a brilliant week and were  lucky enough to meet up with friends which meant the children had buddies to play with on the beach and in the pool. 

  
We have had mixed weather for our stay, some days scorchingly hot, on a couple of others we’ve even had rain but that hasn’t affected our enjoyment of this beautiful stretch of Atlantic coastline.

  
The aforementioned friends have been coming to this part of the world for many years and were able to introduce us to some lovely things like the red berry laden, white sangria above. It’s made with a fizzy white wine, spirits and strawberries, cranberries & raspberries and is divine. It also requires the drinker to have an afternoon nap!

We were also introduced to these beauties:   

They are local sweets made with marzipan and filled with egg custard. They looked fab and tasted delicious, from someone who doesn’t normally like marzipan that’s a BIG deal.

We’ve had great meals out, like the one in this atmospheric taberna in Portimão. I was ever so brave and ate clams and baby octopus (another BIG deal for me).   

There has also been plenty of time to be crafty and I’ve been making great progress on one of my cross stitch WIPs. The stitching session below was powered by the most gorgeous homemade strawberry smoothie made by Mr Postcard and ably assisted by the smaller members of the family.

 
On one of our drives to explore the local area we witnessed the sight of a shepherd striding out into the road, bringing the traffic to a standstill. He had a few goats among his sheep as well as a couple of weary looking sheepdogs.

   
My floral appreciation has continued in the Algarve. I have been very disciplined and only chosen a couple of the many pictures I’ve taken for fear of boring you!

 
 

I thought this plasterwork on the side of this building looked stunning.

  
   
Goodbye Portugal, thank you for having us to stay. We’ve had a wonderful time and hope to see you again one day!

 
Thank you so much for stopping by. Until the next time…