When we announced to family and friends that we'd booked a short autumn break in the sunshine it's fair to say that there was one assumption made by many.
That we would have opted for an all inclusive break. After all these offer good value for money and if you're in need of some rest and relaxation you barely need to move from your Sun lounger. What's not to love?!
Since taking on a small coffee shop I've become so much more aware of the challenges faced by small business owners. A few visitors to the village can boost takings and morale massively. We've sometimes said that if a new hotel were to be built in our town, bringing in many new faces, it would be a massive help to the local economy. Imagine however if it turned out to be all inclusive and how that could impact not just ourselves but the pubs, chip shops, pizza places and curry houses.
Thinking about our holiday I had the idyllic idea of walking down to the beach, finding a little cafe, chatting to the owner and sampling local delicacies with a glass of something they recommended. Fantasyland maybe?
Well after landing in Faro and driving to our self catering apartment we decided to wander to the beach. Finding a cafe with tables set outside we asked if we could get a drink and maybe something to eat. We'd had a croissant on the plane at 9am and it was now around 4pm. Hunger pangs were starting...
Within minutes we were seated. No menu was necessary as the waiter suggested we sample some fish. Sea bass caught off the beach where we sat, enough to share.
Perhaps sensing our hesitation he suggested I go with him to take a look...
He proudly displayed the catch and spoke to the chef. I joined in the conversation as we discussed how it would be prepared and cooked, and what it would be served with.
Whilst the chef got to work we were presented with a basket of assorted breads, olives, a fresh soft cheese and honey. A local wine was suggested, produced just 60 kilometres away. Fresh and crisp and with the bonus of a cork to pop!
Chef arrived with salad and virgin olive oil, then serving plates piled with baby new potatoes and the grilled sea bass on a serving platter. As promised he then filletted it for us, customers at the next table looking on appreciatively.
What did it taste like?
When food writers talk about tasting the sea, about flavours fresh and distinct, it's sometimes hard to imagine what they might mean. We had a little taste of that on the beach in Monte Gordo today.
Whilst we waited and as we ate we chatted with the waiter and chef. After many years this will be their last here on the beach. New restaurants are being built. The language barrier prevented an in depth discussion but we suspect they may be shiny and feature burgers and chips...
I'm not going to make any points or try to draw any conclusions. We simply had a wonderful meal and hope there will be many more to savour this week.