Sun on Saturday: Vila Nova de Milfontes

Not long after depositing our bags in our apartment, we were off out again heading towards Villa Nova de Milfontes, the nearest largest town for supplies and to eat. What is it about travelling that makes you hungry? Well in our case it was probably the crack of dawn EasyJet flight, our decision not to eat the plastic food on the plane and wait until we got there, and the large queue at the car hire pick-up!

After parking our lovely little white Fiat 500 - I'd definitely drive another one of these - we headed down the main street and first things first, food. This was our second time in the town, our first was during our first visit when we had an overnight stay. Then we had little time to explore as we'd walked along the Rota de Vicentina and to be honest extra walking was definitely off the agenda. Neither were we in the market for restaurants as that holiday we spent it eating, and walking, and a bit more eating for good measure!

This time though we wandered down the main street and choose to stop in one of the small local restaurants, and our view out of the restaurant was mostly this tree.  Sheer bliss!

One of the local websites about the town says it's a charming place between Lisbon and the Algarve and it's undiscovered by foreign tourists. While it's true there's not many, I wouldn't say it's totally undiscovered, but it's not well known. It's surrounded by a stunning coastline of rugged cliffs and sandy beaches and it's a bit of a hidden gem.

Our food - we opted for fish, well when in Rome (or even the Alentejo) and all that - was cooked on the grill in the restaurant. At this point we weren't sure what we were ordering and we really didn't care that much. When it arrived I preferred the look and taste of what MOH ordered and as that was put in front of me that's where it stayed!

After lunch we headed off to explore a bit more of the town, heading down towards the front, past many of the traditional buildings. This isn't a town with high rise buildings and for that reason it retains its charm.

We headed down towards the Mira River and the small port area - just look at those blues, and the cobbled road too.

The terrain close up is quite rocky, but it seems this tree was quite happy to grow there.

I was rather taken with this roof, although I think it'd seen better days - but with the purple flower (most likely a weed) it looked much prettier!

At the bottom of the hill we spotted these huts, most likely working huts of the fishermen not beach huts as we'd expect here in the UK. But I think their rustic-ness makes them equally as attractive as the painted ones we're more used to.

After a walk around, a sit down and more photos we decided we should head back up the hill and get those supplies we came for. But as soon as we turned we were immediately wowed with this view. So remember Vila Nova de Milefonts isn't for non-Portuguese tourists, and for that reason alone we love it!

Sun on Saturday: Portuguese food

Yes, this post is dedicated to food, and holiday food at that - well food's part of our holidays, and often just tastes better in the sun. So you'll know from the title that it's the food from our trip to Portugal last June I'm going to write about. We had a chalet-apartment with its own kitchen - which was very well kitted out, it even had a Nespresso machine which MOH was dead pleased with. Yes dear, just as I planned!

And unusually our board basis was self-catering with breakfast included - it sounds strange but it worked. We'd stayed here overnight on our first trip to Alentejo and remembered how good the buffet-style breakfast was, and I wondered how they were going to replicate that. Well when we arrived the fridge was stocked with milk, cheese and ham and other breakfast essentials; there were oranges for juicing on the side (as well as an electric juicer) and fresh sourdough bread was delivered almost daily. 

With mornings starting with freshly squeezed orange juice courtesy of MOH and this view, how could you ever have a bad day? 

As I said before fresh bread was delivered almost daily, and was hung in these patchwork bags on our front door. We weren't too sure how this would work so on our first morning we were surprised and pleased to discover our bread delivery. At times during our stay we'd open our door cautiously to find that another loaf had been delivered and less often to find there hadn't been a delivery. At one point we were stockpiling loaves, which as it was sourdough goes against all my principles so more cheese was bought and the evenings after a lunch out a simple supper of bread, cheese and quince marmalade (part of the breakfast essentials) did us very nicely indeed. And I *may* just have put a loaf in the case to bring home... sans patchwork bag as my plan was to make some of those at some point. 

The oranges and the Nespresso capsules were replenished daily much to MOH's joy. My joy lay elsewhere, and if you remember at the time I wrote about how Bolo was my favourite new (and essential) breakfast item. Yes cake for breakfast is legit in Portugal, did I mention just how much I like Portugal? I'm pretty sure I've mentioned how much I like cake... 

When we weren't gorging ourselves on bread or cake and then trying to look slim(ish) in a bikini - that's me, not MOH - or out sightseeing, we went off to discover what the local shops and supermarkets had in store.  Food shops abroad are just fascinating aren't they? In this one there was a serious amount of bacalao (or bacalhau in Portuguese), piles of the stuff.  I like bacalao, but I've not cooked with it and I didn't think this was the right time to start, so I just admired it.  And took some photos, which got me some odd looks.

I'm also pretty fish-phobic it must be said and there were some ugly mugs looking back at me from the fish counter.  I've no idea what the ugly ones are and you'd be right in thinking they didn't make it into my shopping basket either.  I do like how the fish on the right are packed into the ice, rather than laid on top of it though. And I did eat fish for most of our evening meals, sometimes because there was little other choice!  But either way I like to know what it is I'm eating and be sure about that before I order, so the phrase book was out a lot in restaurants. Part of the reason for my nervousness is that I'm allergic to most shellfish, so I like to be sure...

I love the colours of the fish below and wish more fish available to buy at home looked like this, rather than in the sterile plastic packets.

And just when I thought I'd seen all the bacalao in the shop, I turned the corner and spotted some in packets for those that like their fish that way.  Seriously so much bacalao in one place!

We bought some padron peppers and had our own game of padron pepper roulette back in our apartment one evening along with some of the local beer (and no not that much). Another simple but tasty and relaxing supper.

We ate out a few times too as well as eating in the apartment; I had these sardines in Porto Covo and they were fantastic. They're just the type of food that tastes so much better in the sun. I had these towards the end of our holiday and MOH was still acting shocked (or maybe it was real) that I'd ordered fish as a main meal as it hardly ever happens in the UK, but if you're on the coast then freshly caught fish really is the best option. Although six of these were too much for me so a couple migrated over to MOH's plate, which he was definitely ok with.

Don't you agree, some food just tastes better in the sun?  

Black & White photo: There's a hole in my roof

Well not mine, thankfully.  This one, and it looks quite serious.  You may have seen a larger colour version in yesterday's post when we walked to the windmill in Odeceixe in Portugal.  I thought this would make a nice black and white image, with the texture of the tiles, the hole and the window.  Apart from that "small" hole in the roof it looked perfectly normal and habitable.  

Characterful, wouldn't you agree?