I just got back from the Algarve. It’s always hard to leave but all the more this time because strawberries were coming into season. Mmmmm . . .at the Loulé market vendors were flogging mountains of these sweet, fragrant seasonal treats. Is there anything more succulent than a locally grown, fully ripe strawberry? Here in the great white north it’ll still be 2 months before we even think of local berries and then we’re lucky if the season lasts a month. Those lucky Portuguese start early and seem to have a way of getting fresh berries for a very long time.
We were especially blessed because not far from our apartment is a lovely lady who sells freshly grown produce at her garden gate. We loved to buy berries in small trays for a Euro. Just enough to munch on over 2 days . . .and then back for more. Mind you, we also had to pick up some oranges and lemons for good measure. There is something that satisfies the soul about getting regular supplies from a roadside vendor. Not only is the produce unbelievably fresh, but every day or two we could notice how much softer and more tasty the berries became as the warmth and sunshine of spring intensified.
And I must admit that part of the adventure of this particular spot is figuring out how/where you’re going to park the car for this short shopping trip. You’re on the busy main road into town, there is no official parking spot . . . so I practiced parking like a local . . . driving right up onto the curb and letting my little rental car hang out into traffic. Getting off the curb always seemed more challenging than getting up onto it. You just wait, one of these days I’ll drive like I was born here.
But back to our luscious berries. We cooked our own Easter dinner of pork, fresh broad beans, new potatoes and a roasted beet salad. It was tough narrowing down our choices in a land where so much great food is always on offer.
For dessert I marinated fresh strawberries and some other berry that looked like a blackberry (but wasn’t) in a splash of wine and sugar. I added some chopped fresh mint at the last moment and opened up one of the Algarve’s fluffy, crispy, intensely sweet meringues, slathered on some crême fraiche . . . and the angels sang!