Luís Figo’s hidden gem in the Algarve.jpg

Luís Figo’s hidden gem in the Algarve

By Mich Dressler

In 2007 the Suites Alba Resort, a property co-owned by former international footballer Luís Figo, was opened, and last Saturday, October 12, 26 members and guests of the Algarve Bailliage (Chapter) of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs visited its Morgadinho restaurant for the first time.

Our hosts, who have recently joined the Chaîne, were two young Portuguese chefs – Louis Anjos, the executive chef who won the ‘Chef of the Year’ competition in Portugal in 2012, and João Pereira, the assistant chef who won the highly competitive ‘Bacalhau’ chef’s competition in Portugal the same year. In September this year, he also successfully competed in the global Young Chefs Competition of the Chaine in Istanbul. This duo is supplemented by Rui Coelho, the experienced restaurant manager.

The Suites Alba Resort & Spa is set in a lovely location overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, a few kilometres east of Carvoeiro, and due to its fairly hidden position is not very well known.

The proceedings commenced in the Wine Cathedral, an attractive wine cellar with dining possibilities for a small group, with the Duc de Berieu Brut aperitif. We then moved upstairs to the restaurant to indulge in a very imaginative six-course menu.

It commenced with a light tuna, crab and lemon starter, accompanied by a 2012 Marques dos Vales Primeira Selection rosé from the Algarve.

This was followed by the second and very contrasting starter, foie gras with granny smith apple and carob. We were then served the third starter, which had local influence from the Serra de Monchique and consisted of egg, pea and sausages. These two dishes were supported by a very young 2012 Quinta do Melgaço Vinho Verde Alvarinho, which due to the strong acidity compensated for the richness of the starters.

The fish dish was a tasty Caldeirada with sweet potato and Ria Formosa clams, which was exquisitely presented. It was supported by a more fruity 2010 Castelo d’Alba Vinhas Velhas white from the Douro.

The meat course was a duet of farmed lamb fillet and lamb leg with Algarvian carrot puree and braised vegetables. The two cuts of lamb together showed great contrasts in taste. To support the succulent lamb, the wine was a powerful and full 2011 red Montaria Reserva from the Alentejo.

Finally onto the dessert which Louis included in his winning 2012 national competition. It consisted of berries with sweet rice and carob, together with a 10-year-old tawny from Quinta do Porto Ferreira. Altogether this was a magnificent lunch savoured by all.

The next event in the Algarve will be the Christmas Dinner on December 14 at the Sheraton Pine Cliffs Hotel.

For those who enjoy the highest levels of cuisine the Algarve has to offer and have some charitable instincts to support the Gastronomic School Project for the less privileged young Portuguese in Évora, the Chaîne would welcome them.

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