Santa Luzia – King of the Octopus 🐙

Hello again my lovely readers, it’s been a while. It’s too easy to slip into lazy habits, bumbling up and down the Algarve, when the sun is shining. We’ve been chilling in the dunes by the Marina in Lagos for the majority of the last week or so. As most of you know, the draw of the beach is like a magnet to me, particularly when the weather has been so good. The sea has been like a millpond and I have very much enjoyed my morning run with the dog, barefoot in the edge of the gently lapping surf. I’m determined to get back in shape now. The pastries and wine are taking their toll on my waistline! I have no excuse here. The daily fish markets offer an abundance of reasonably priced, healthy food as do the weekly fruit and veg markets. I have stocked up on tuna, prawns, home made hummus and loads of veg and salad so here I go.

Matt and Lucy are now in Vietnam. They have been handing down some brilliant recipes after attending various cookery classes. I do find Asian food very interesting and aromatic. I cooked a spicy prawn dish with toasted coconut rice and satay noodles a couple of nights ago. It was easy, even in a Motorhome, healthy and absolutely delicious. We dined at sunset in the sand dunes listening to the sea. Does life get any better? Want the recipe? Ok, here it goes:-

First, boil the noodles for just a couple of minutes, drop them into boiling salted water. Drain them, drizzle with a little peanut oil or toasted sesame oil and set to one side.

Next toast 2 tablespoons of unsalted peanuts and two tablespoons of desiccated coconut until golden. Crush the peanuts when cool and set aside. Cook enough Thai Jasmin rice for two portions. You need about a generous mug full when cooked. Rinse and set aside.

Chop a red chilli, a stick of lemongrass, 3 cloves of garlic, a good handful of coriander and two kaffir lime leaves (leave these out if unavailable) and blend with the juice and zest of a lime, a tablespoon of caster sugar,2 tablespoons of toasted sesame oil, 2 tablespoons of Thai fish sauce and a tablespoon of light soy sauce. Add a little water if necessary just to loosen. Marinate the raw king prawns (I allow 6 each but they are big here) for about 20 mins. Add a further splash of sesame oil to a wok and fry a thumb sized piece of sliced ginger. Stir in the prawns then pour on the marinade and warm through being careful not to over cook. Add a handful of shredded spring onion.

While this is cooking, put the soften noodles into a pan and stir through a couple of tablespoons of satay sauce. Don’t start warming until everything else is almost ready. They only need a quick flash to reheat.

So to the rice. Add a very small amount of oil to a pan and grate half a cauliflower head into it when warm. Stir in the cooked rice, coconut and toasted peanuts. When warmed through, add finely chopped red and yellow pepper, cucumber and a couple of tablespoons of pomegranate seeds.

You’re ready to serve! It does take a bit of coordination but the taste is worth the effort! Add wedges of lime to squeeze over. Enjoy!

It wouldn’t take too much persuasion for us to stay here for the rest of our trip. Lagos has so much to offer. Town is just a short walk away with great shops and restaurants. The Marina is buzzing and lively with music at weekends. There are several beautiful beaches, (we favour Meia Praia as it’s least populated) and the markets and supermarkets are fantastic. The Aire offers all services including laundry and the BP garage on the N125 has LPG. All that said, we decide it’s now time for us to make a move and head for pastures new. We need a change of scenery. We had been out the night before with Marion and Tony to Dynasty to celebrate Chinese New Year. Another great night with our good friends. We said our goodbyes and arranged to meet up again in Manta Rota near the Spanish border in a week or so. Another firm favourite.

Today we are travelling some 72 miles south. We are going to a small place we first read about in The Guardian believe it or not, called Santa Luzia. It is described as a down to earth fishing village affectionately known as King of the Octopus. We have an uneventful journey there, (my favourite sort) sticking mostly on the A22, and the sat nav is playing fair for once. We arrive at a small, free Aire on the edge of the village. It’s very busy with Motorhomes and we only just manage to squeeze on. First impressions are better than good. It’s a very pretty, traditional Portuguese village, quite a step back in time. We had a stroll along the palm lined waterfront and checked out the Octopus traps along the jetty. Lots of little boats were moored along the river. It’s just idyllic. There are lots of little cafes and seafood restaurants and a few better quality trinket shops selling handmade ornaments etc., mostly Octopus based!! There is a bakery, a small fish market and a well stocked supermarket with a butchers at the back. A cycle trail goes to Tavira one way and Fuseta the other. A little old fashioned train goes from the bus stop and Carpark next to Pedras d’el Rei over the lagoons to Barril Beach on the Ilha de Tavira. The fare is €1.50. You can walk over if you prefer. It’s a tranquil, sleepy little place. I love it instantly.

We decide in the afternoon to move the van to the paid Aire further down the road at Pedras. Not only does it look safer, it has space right on the edge of the waterfront and facilities to dump your grey and black waste. All for €5 a day. We bag an amazing spot and settle down to enjoy the blazing sunset and watch the many wild birds returning back to roost on the nature reserve in front of us. I’m actually blown away by this place. It’s Portugal at its absolute best.

The next day we decide to take the train and head to the beach for a picnic. There are a couple of nice little cafes on the Ilha if you prefer to lunch out and the beach stretches for miles of silver sand and turquoise sea. It’s stunning. Just off the boardwalk is the Anchor Graveyard. It’s quite eerie!

If you walk to the left along the beach you can easily get to Tavira. The little ferry takes you over to 4 Aguas (NB. No dogs on the ferry) and it’s a short walk to the market building. You can do the same route back or alternatively take a bus or jump in a cab. We’re going on Saturday to the market ( I never miss a food market opportunity!!). So, today, off we go on the little choo choo! It doesn’t take long. Do bring your binoculars if you’re a bird spotter!

Wow that beach though! It’s a wonderfully hot day with not a cloud in the sky. We walk back as the sun is sinking and the lagoon is turning from blue to pinky gold. All you can hear is the dusk chorus of birdsong. What a find this place has been. No wonder our friends stayed here for the whole of December, it’s divine.

We sat outside the van with a G and T (obligatory) and watched the end of the sunset. Once darkness falls, there is no light pollution and I am mesmerised by the inky blue incredibly starry sky. Heavenly. We are having a simple supper of smoked salmon, blue cheese and spinach omelette with salad tonight so not much cooking to be done. For once I sleep like a log. Hardly surprising in such a peaceful spot.

Next morning I’m so inspired, I pull on my running shoes as the sun is rising and take a jog along the Barril pathway and back over to the beach with the dog. There are several people shoulder deep in the sea dressed in wetsuits hand fishing for Octopus. Other than that, it’s just me and I enjoy a people free hour before jogging back for breakfast. Loving life! A quick shower and hair wash and I’m ready for Friday!

On that note my dear friends, the weekend is upon us and most of you will be packing up your desks and longing for 5pm! I am prepping a Tuna Nicoise Pasta for ‘fish Friday’ supper and I have a good bottle of palest pink,crisp Rose wine chilling which should go perfectly. Wishing you all a very pleasant weekend. Will report back on Tavira and Fuseta once we’ve done a bit more exploring. Cheerio for now folks and thanks for reading. Peace and love from Portugal 🇵🇹

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