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Holidays in Portugal offer food lovers the chance to enjoy some of the best-kept culinary secrets anywhere. And with luxury villas in Portugal offering a perfect base from which to discover this wonderful country, there has never been a better time to experience everything that makes Portugal special. The Portuguese are food fanatics. Portuguese cuisine is characterised by rich, filling and flavourful dishes that rely heavily on a Mediterranean influence but also incorporate a spice-influenced direction to create a unique blend unlike anywhere else. Because of Portugal’s links to the Spice Islands of Indonesia and the Pacific Rim, spices like tumeric and vanilla feature heavily in Portuguese deserts and pastries. The most popular deserts in Portugal are rice pudding flavoured with cinnamon and vanilla, caramel custard and sweet pastries, originally developed by nuns to generate revenue.
With many fishing fleets operating along the coast, fish is a major part of Portuguese cuisine. The country has the highest fish consumption per capita of any country in Europe and is one of the top four fish-eating nations in the world. As a result, Portugal is a mecca for lovers of fishy food, with a huge selection of fish dishes from soups through to stews and boiled or fried recipes. Sardines and Atlantic tuna are the most popular ingredients in many fish dishes, although dried and salted cod is still an important part of the cuisine. Shellfish also features heavily on the menu, and one of the most basic forms of Portuguese cuisine is a fish stew that allows visitors to sample a wide selection of flavours in one simple meal.
Self-catering holidays rather than hotel stays make trying different cuisines easier.
Portugal’s villas can be very luxurious, offering visitors premier quality accommodation whilst still retaining a real ‘feel’ for the true Portugal. Portugal’s clement climate allows villas to be designed with an airy layout, making them light, airy and luxurious, with all modern conveniences. This includes the cooking arrangements, so for visitors who prefer to do their own catering the opportunities to explore the markets of the local towns and fishing ports and combine the best local ingredients into their own dishes are well catered for.
Meat lovers are well looked after too and although traditionally eating meat on a daily basis was the privilege of the upper classes, it is now universally found on restaurant menus across Portugal. Whereas many Mediterranean menus major on poultry and even goat, the Portuguese favour their beef and pork, such as the Algarve speciality of fried pork with clams. Red wine is used extensively in Portuguese cooking, giving meat dishes a rich, full flavour that is complemented by the use of herbs and spices such as onion and coriander.
Getting to Portugal is amazingly cheap these days. Portugal holidays offer food lovers the chance to try a totally different cuisine, and only a couple of hours from home. Links to Portugal are convenient, with modern, efficient transport systems and plenty of international flights to the main centres such as Faro. A combination of fantastic sporting facilities, luxury villas and a rich and varied culture make Portugal a popular destination for those seeking a more exotic holiday experience without travelling out of Europe. In the major resorts many people speak English, but for a real taste of Portugal, try visiting the local markets with a travel guide book and a willingness to try out new flavours, new ingredients and a warm, Portuguese welcome.
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