Search Results For -algarve

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Sweet Tooth in Portugal: A guide to Portuguese desserts
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Purple Hearts… Albufeira Portugal
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Purple Pick: Post Exam Holidays
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Purple Tips: Family Holidays Abroad

Sweet Tooth in Portugal: A guide to Portuguese desserts

The Portuguese sure like their food. Although a relatively small country, their cuisine is somewhat diversified and distinctive in each of the different regions. They value their meats, their seafood is some of the freshest in the world and their vegetables are cooked to perfection, but most of all – the Portuguese love their desserts. You will never have your plate cleared in a Portuguese restaurant without being asked, “What would you like for dessert?”

For those of you that have visited Portugal, you will have probably noticed that every street has at least one pastelaria (pastry shop), usually occupied by a line of locals and tourists alike who have followed the sweet smells of fresh bread and toasted almonds. Dessert specialities include more than a whopping 200 different types of pastries. This national penchant for sweets seems to have originated during the Moorish occupation; in the 15th century, there was the sugar cane planted in Madeira. Then, sometime in the 17th and 18th centuries, Portuguese convents began to be known for their sweet pastries, including specialities such as “toucinho do céu” (heaven’s lard) and “barriga de freiras” (nun’s belly). The convents would frequently compete to see which could produce the best sweets and desserts. There are even stories of the famous Belém pastries, whose recipe remains a closely guarded secret, or the ‘Abade de Priscos Pudim’, dating back to a 14th century legacy from one of the best Portuguese cooks.

There are simply too many desserts to list them all, but if you have one week in Portugal, this is a list of the best seven Portuguese desserts – one for each day of your stay:

The seven best Portuguese desserts

Toucinho do Céu | Translating to ‘Heaven’s Bacon’, this dessert was originally made with pork lard by convent nuns. These were women who understood the intrinsic ingredients of any good dessert: ridiculous amounts of sugar, a boat load of egg yellows and of course, more calories than you can imagine.

Differing from modern almond cakes, Heaven’s Bacon is extremely moist, rather than battery. You can find Toucinho do Ceu anywhere in Portugal, but for a more traditional (and delicious) version – head north to the city of Guimaraes.

Aletria | You will be surprised to hear the main ingredient for this dessert – a very thin kind of noodle (like vermicelli) that was brought into Portugal when the Moors settled. The Portuguese, sweet-toothed by nature, then turned these noodles into a sugary treat by boiling them in milk and adding butter, egg yolk, lemon zest and a sprinkle of cinnamon, creating something a little similar to rice pudding. A very traditional dessert, no Christmas table in Portugal is complete without a generous tray of Aletria.

Ovos Moles | Another dessert that centres on Portugal’s favourite ingredient combination: sugar and eggs galore. Ovos moles means ‘soft eggs’, which pretty much sums up what this dessert is. Portuguese nuns once used egg whites to iron their garments and create this recipe accidently – so as not to waste the remaining egg yellows. Ovos moles come in rolled cakes, inside traditional clay pots or, more famously, inside light wheat dough in the shape of items that symbolize Aveiro and its river.

Azevias de Mertola | Another dessert with origins inside religious institutions, Azevias de Mertola originates from the southern town of Mertola, where nuns devoted themselves to God and to making heavenly treats. The dessert is made up of fried dough pockets, filled with a smooth and creamy paste made of mashed chickpeas. Don’t worry, it tasted nothing like humous; Azevias are super sweet and extra delicious.

Egg threads from Purple Travel

Image via @ Wikicommons

Bolinhos de Amendoa | Aside from sun, white sands and crystal waters, the Algarve is famous for the creative use of almonds. 
Marzipan is taken to a whole new level by Algarvian sweet makers, filling the almond paste with an egg and sugar concoction known as “fios de ovos” – egg threads. Bolinhos de Amendoa is one of the most attractive sweets in the entire country, being most popularly presented in fruit shapes.

Blog Pastel

Image via @ Wikicommons

Pastel de Belem |These egg custard tarts are probably one of the most popular desserts amongst tourists. Originating from the area of Belem in Lisbon, Pastel de Belem is found all over Portugal, under the name Pastel de Nata. Pastel de Belem has been elected one of the “7 Wonders of Portuguese Gastronomy” (yes this is a real thing!); people queue up in Belem to taste this cake where it was originally created, served warm straight out of the oven, with a burnt crust on top, a crumbly pastry base and a sprinkle of cinnamon on top. This take-away treat is the perfect companion to a cup of coffee or tea.

Bolo Rei from Purple Travel

Image via @ Wikicommons

Bolo Rei (King Cake) | A traditional Portuguese cake that is typically made at Christmas and eaten up to Dia de Reis (the day of Kings). Its shape resembles a king’s crown. Made from soft, white dough, raisins, nuts and crystallized fruit, it is not so dissimilar from an English Christmas cake. When families bake this cake, they usually include a little prize within it and whoever slices the piece with the prize has to either bake or buy the next cake the following year.

You should read… Purple Hearts… Albufeira

Purple Hearts… Albufeira Portugal

When you think of Albufeira Portugal the tourist capital of the Algarve, you first think of its golden beaches and pulsating nightlife. These features attract droves of holidaymakers from all over Europe, particularly during the summer months when you can’t swing a lilo without banging into another tourist. Coming under the municipal area of Faro, Albufeira covers an area of approximately 140 km², with more than 40,000 resident inhabitants including a whopping 4,000 foreigners who have chosen to live here. But how has Albufeira earned so much popularity and yet retained its traditions? Read on to find out why, this week, we heart Albufeira Portugal…

The history of Albufeira

Back in Roman times, bustling Albufeira was called Baltum, up until in the 8th century when the Moors who occupied the town renamed it Al-Buhera – The Castle on the Sea. Today, vestiges of aqueducts, roads and Roman bridges can be still be seen in Paderne and Guia. Much later, in the middle of the 19th century, the fishing industry did much to revive the economy of the town, soon becoming the principal means of income for the region. Tourism only began to flourish from the ‘60s onwards, providing a new breath of air for the locals, leading to the town becoming a city in 1986. Thanks to an ever-growing tourist industry, Albufeira has become one of the most desired holiday destinations in Europe.

Best beaches in Albufeira

Albufeira beaches are the most popular in the Algarve, yet with more than twenty golden, sandy beaches to choose from, many of which are blue flagged, they never get too overcrowded. The most well-known is Fisherman’s Beach, where many of the Algarve’s summer parties are held. Despite this, the beach has managed to retain its traditional appearance, of which the fishing industry is still very much a part – expect to see colourful Algarve fishing boats dancing on the waves both day and night. Falésia Beach, a huge length of fine golden sand running from Albufeira to Vilamoura, is another great spot, particularly if you’re bringing the kids as its blue flagged. Similarly, Olhos d’ Agua or “eyes of the water” as it translates to, is a safe beach that’s very popular with tourists due to its myriad resort places to eat and drink along the beach. It gets its name from the freshwater springs underneath the sands, which can sometimes be seen to bubble up at low tide. Praia do Túnel, is situated at the front of the old Albufeira town. It is a magnificent wide stretch of golden sand, embraced by soft golden-red cliffs and boasting striking rock formations in the water. Access is through a ‘tunnel’ in the cliffs under a hotel just past the tourist office with a few steps down to the beach – hence its name.

You should read… Getting Married in Portugal, a Bride’s Guide

What to see in Albueria

Albufeira’s old town centre has a charming traditional feel. White-washed houses and narrow, cobbled streets lined with cafés and boutiques lead to a picturesque central square. In the square, you will find yourself surrounded by bars and restaurants where you can taste some of the local fish-based gastronomy. The historic centre exposes Albufeira’s Arab past through its impressive architecture. The charming, meandering streets are narrow and the jasmine-scented air makes walking through the neighbourhood a pleasure. You can walk to the Castillo del Mar from here – the ‘castle by the sea‘ – a fortress built by the Arabs as a significant point of defence. Culture enthusiasts will enjoy discovering the rich heritage of Albufeira, particularly if they visit the Museum of Archaeology. The museum showcases fascinating artefacts from the pre-historic, Roman, Muslim, medieval and modern periods. The Church of São Sebastião on Praça Miguel Bombarda has an impressive Manueline doorway that provides an excellent photo opportunity. From there, Rua 5 de Outubro leads through a tunnel to the Fisherman’s beach, where you can see Albufeira’s colourful fishing boats surfing the waves. One of the best attractions in Albufeira is the Zoomarine Aquarium, where visitors can watch animal shows and even have a chance to swim with dolphins. Go-carting and horse-riding are also popular activities.

Where to party in Albufeira

And if you’re looking for some late night revelry, there’s plenty of it in fun-loving, lively Albufeira. The Strip is the place to head to – a succession of booming bars, restaurants and clubs – and the hub of Albufeira’s nightlife scene. The owners of the bars and restaurants are frequently expats, who make you feel at home straight away and enjoy nothing more than a good natter. For adult holidays there are happy hours, strip clubs and late night partying on balmy summers evening. And the best bit? Drinks are seriously cheap.

What to eat in Albufeira

In the foreground of Albuferia’s dining scene is its fishing industry.  Traditional Algarve dishes include the famous Cataplana, a seafood and shellfish dish, and grilled sardines. Tuna, sea bream, monkfish, horse mackerel or alimados, squid and many other delicacies are prepared mostly in stews, ragouts or grilled, or boiled – any of which is sure to be excellent. You won’t find fresher fish than here. Desserts are another strong point; cakes are mostly made from dried fruits, and other titbits are made from almonds, figs and carob beans. There is an ice-cream of carob, the Dom Rodrigo, and we recommend you try the Almond Liqueur, Alfarroba (carob) liqueur and Medronho.

You should read: Sweet Tooth in Portugal: A guide to Portuguese desserts

Purple Pick: Post Exam Holidays

Hours of study? Check. No social life for months? Check. Itching to get out and party? Double check. We’ve been thinking the exact same thing ourselves. There are plenty of places to go for a last minute get away for a bit of sun, sea and sand. But, of course there are things that make that post exam holiday extra special, how about foam parties, bangin’ tunes and great cocktails? From what we’ve heard that’s what makes your cheap holiday in the sun extra special. So grab your mates and head off to the sun for a few weeks of completely getting away from it all.

Here are some of our top picks for Post Exam Holidays…

Beach shoes

Beach shoes (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

Beaches, babes and tunes: Greece has long been a favourite with revellers looking to unwind and Zante AKA Zakynthos is probable one of the most well known. You’ll find a belter of a deal on the Greek Islands as now more than ever there is a big drive to get tourists in. The weather is a big part of it; think the mid 30s from June onwards. Laganas has its own mile long strip of bars, clubs and restaurants so you can try a different one (or more!) every night. Lounging on the beach with a cocktail is the perfect way to recover after the night before.

Superclub superfans: Well, it’s said Ibiza is the home of the superclub, so if you want awesome nights that last ‘til dawn, then this Balearic Island is well worth a go. Amnesia is home to the legendary Cream parties, with residents like Paul Van Dyk and Deadmau5. While, Space in Playa d’en Bossa attracts crowds from all over the world and it’s won a pile of gongs. There are tonnes of accommodation options on the island so you’ll find something to suit any budget, which leaves more money for spending out on the tiles.

Splash and party: Albufeira in Portugal’s Algarve has everything you want for an awesome holiday. Think gorgeous pools and a beach just minutes away. The New Town is home to a strip that will give you some unforgettable nights out, while the nearby water parks are just as good for kids or grownups. If you’re into your cuisine, there are plenty of tip top restaurants to keep you going, as well as simple takeaway places for eating on the go. A week’s fun in the sun in Portugal and you’ll be ready for anything.

The original party city: Head for Barcelona. Not only will you find great bars and clubs there is a quality city beach to die for. A visit to the Nou Camp (home turf of Barcelona football club) is well worth it, it’s the biggest stadium in Europe! At night the vibrant main street, the Ramblas is perfect for people watching, seeing the sites and maybe making friends.

So, If you’re heading away this year somewhere for a post exam bash, we’d love to hear about it, or if you’ve been away the last while, let us know where!

Ps. A few things to remember, if you go a little further afield, be sure to check with the country you’re visiting, as unaccompanied under 18 year olds can get a grilling, or even end up deported!

Purple Tips: Family Holidays Abroad

Whether you’re an old pro at travelling with children, or this is your first trip with a new baby, it can be a daunting experience. How to keep them busy for two weeks and not go stir crazy yourself, will the food be alright, will there be other kids to play with and will the facilities be up to scratch? If you haven’t really thought it through and would like some ideas, then stay tuned for some top picks for family holidays abroad.

Young cheetahs in Masai Mara

Young cheetahs in Masai Mara (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Let your little ones take a walk on the wild side in Kenya. Imagine introducing your young one to the stunning scenery of Africa, seeing gazelles rave across the planes, or elephants feeding in their natural habitat. The Masai Mara is probably the best known safari destination and there you could get the chance to see the so called big five: lions, elephants, rhinos, buffaloes and leopards. Not for the faint hearted, it’s all early starts, and a little bit of roughing it, so maybe it’s best to wait ‘til your budding zoo keepers are a little older before heading to Kenya.

Tunisia’s well known for practically year round sunshine, so if you’re after a couple of hours on the beach every day, dig out your bucket and spade and get going. Hammamet is a great choice, because there are a tonne of kid friendly activities, from clubs, babysitters and crèches. Older children will love the food, evenings of football training, singing, dancing and making plenty of new friends.  If you’re the nerdy type of mum or dad, why not take a day trip to the Sahara desert, where you can check out the sets of some of the Star Wars films among others. Well, if it works for us…!

The stunning island of Antigua in the Caribbean might be a bit of a trek, but it’s so worth it. Antigua prides itself on being home to enough beautiful beaches that you could visit a different one every day of the year. It’s incredibly low key and relaxed, and is a perfect place to spend some quality time together. If you fancy a bit of activity, Half Moon Bay is fab for snorkelling, while Stingray City is an aquarium with a difference. Children are encouraged to stick their hands in the tanks and get up, close and personal with the tropical fish. It might not be a top choice for mum and dad, but we reckon youngsters will love it.

Praia da Galé; Albufeira, Algarve, Portugal

Praia da Galé; Albufeira, Algarve, Portugal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Portugal is surely one of the most family friendly holiday hot spots around. From the historic capital Lisbon, to the long stretches of sand on the islands of Madeira or the Azores Archipelago, there’s something to impress even the pickiest child. We think the old reliable Algarve is a top choice. There are water slide parks to beat the band, top notch sandy beaches to spend lazy days and a great range of family friendly accommodation options. Albufeira is a top pick for its lovely Old Town, with views right out across the ocean, a beautiful, sandy beach and great atmosphere.

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