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Algarve in Jan / Feb

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Hello.
My husband and I will be travelling through the Algarve area end of Jan / early Feb '11. I have already seen some good suggestions for local Portuguese food here, namely Restaurant Gabriel, Vila Velha and Eira do Mel for the Sagres area.

We will have a car and are staying in Praia da Luz for part of the trip and Tavira for the other portion. We plan to visit faro, then going west to portimao, lagos, sagres, aljezur, marmalete, silves, caldas de monchique, monchique, foia. Then in the east explore the coastal road between olhao and tavira.

I'm looking for any good cafes where we can get nice coffee and perhaps a custard tart near the hotels.

Also, any portuguese local restaurants to try along the way? We're also interested in some piri piri chicken which I've read is good around the Monchique area.

If there are any good food markets, stalls or stands to check out along the way, we'd like that too. Especially if there's anything local like honey, sauces, etc, to bring back to London with us. :)

Lastly, we have a collection of cookware type items (e.g. mortar and pestle, tools from SE Asia, tagine etc) and are wondering if there's anything particular to Portugal we could bring back home?

Loads of thanks!!!!

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  1. Taberna Tipica Quarta-Feira in Evora. Best meal of our lives, and we didn't even order anything. We were ushered in, given house (actually made for the house!) wine and starters and finished with his and hers nut liquors. My next trip to Portugal will be planned around Evora mainly for this gem. Magical, I tell you!
    Have a really fantastic time, I can't tell you how jealous I am!

    1. January is not the best month to visi the Algarve unless you play golf... February normally nicer and the ealmond trees are in flower... Lots of places will be closed, specially beach bars / restaurants.
      Cafes, you will have to follow your nose, there are thousands to chose from ranging from the local "hole in the wall" to the Irish pub.
      Don't miss Marisqueira Rui's in Silves for the best fish and shellfish (behind the market). Silves is well worth spending a day to visit the castle. "A Rampa" on the road to Foia is the best for chicken piri-piri. If it is closed, go to "Luar" instead

      Check the dates of the local markets at the tourist office. Each town has at least one big market a month (Monchique being on the 2nd Friday). Fruit and vegetable / fish markets take place every morning except Sunday in every town & village. Olhão and Aljezur are 2 of the best for fish.
      Goods to bring back: "Flor de sal" from Tavira, marzipans from everywhere, medronho (arbutus fire water) from Monchique, olive oil, wine...
      Cookware: You went to bring back a "cataplana" (copper preferably). This is a cooking vessal which looks like a large clam, a sort of ancestor of the pressure cooker, and is used to make the dish of the same name which you must try. Normally based on clams and pork, but you will find many different "cataplanas" on the menu.
      Hope it helps!