Monchique chicken Sundays

Having lived here in the Algarve for the last 37 years, there are some gastronomic outings that have become family traditions over the years and a drive up to Monchique for a tasty chicken lunch, followed by a trip to the top of the mountain and a coffee in Caldas on the way down is a firm favourite. But until this last Sunday, it had been quite a few years since I was last up there.
Our chicken pit-stop had always been A Rampa, on the road from Monchique town up to Fóia, where the stunning view of the coastline was complemented by consistently good grilled chicken and the best chips to be found anywhere.
But my last few visits have been to the more humble Café Imperial, located on the left just after Caldas de Monchique. There is no view to speak of and the chips are nothing special, but the grilled chicken is as good as I have tasted anywhere and the prices are particularly appealing.
Our lunch for four persons on Sunday (with five portions of chicken) including a few beers, a jug of the very drinkable house red, some soft drinks, local presunto and cheese to start plus a couple of desserts, coffees and even two cheap brandies came to just €15 per person.
Fortunately, we had a designated driver, a necessity these days since the drink driving laws were tightened up and rolling down the hill became legally classified as driving!
After lunch, a drive up to Fóia, my first visit in at least 10 years, revealed a forest of telecom towers but the view of the coast, bathed in soft blue haze was as stunning as ever.
Driving home in the passenger seat, it occurred to me just how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful part of the world and how the simple pleasures of the Algarve are still some of the best. 
By Patrick Stuart [email protected]