The new British Ambassador, John Buck, and his wife, Jean, were the special guests at a cocktail party and dinner held at Le Méridien Penina Hotel last weekend. Organised by the Algarve committee of the British Portuguese Chamber of Commerce, the theme was ‘The Best of the Algarve’ – and, as the 100 or so guests agreed – the Algarve has food, wine and music to be very proud of!
During the cocktail reception guests had the opportunity of talking with the region’s leading wine-makers. A white wine from João Mendes and a rosé from Rui Virginia complemented reds from Nuno Magalhães and Carlos Silva e Sousa, and showed that the Algarve has both quality and variety in regional wines.
The challenge for the chefs at the Penina was to produce their version of ‘the Best of the Algarve’ and they certainly came up trumps! Traditional Algarve dishes have rarely looked or tasted as good as this – and probably came as a relief and very pleasant surprise to those who were dreading something far less appetising!
Live music was provided by the Sahara Baby Jazz Band, a group of youngsters aged from 14 to 21 who played and sang their way through a selection of classical jazz – as well as some of their own creations – to the delight of everyone there. If the exchange of telephone numbers was anything to go by, some lucky people could be hearing more of the Babies in the not-too-distant future!
Marc Damon and the Kiss FM disco matched the mood of the evening perfectly. Gentle, easy-listening music during the meal was just right, and then Marc managed to get people up and on the dance floor as soon as the many prizes in the draw had been given out. John Buck and his wife opened the dancing, and were quickly followed by lots of others who strutted their stuff across the floor to the music of yesteryear.
Mistress of Ceremonies was Judy Sharp, who heads the BPCC committee in the Algarve. She welcomed the Ambassador and his wife to the event, and thanked the major sponsors for the evening – Barclays Bank, Sovereign Group and MG Rover Portugal, who displayed four gleaming cars at Penina’s front door. In his short speech, John Buck explained that he and his wife had been based in Portugal once before, and were delighted to be back. He added that increased co-operation between the commercial department of the Embassy and the British-Portuguese Chamber of Commerce can only benefit companies of all sizes throughout the country, and will certainly provide the basis of further initiatives in the Algarve in the coming year.
Judy Sharp was clearly delighted with the success of the event. “I am really pleased that so many people came along, not only to welcome the new Ambassador, but also to have a good time. I’m sure that the excellent quality of the food, wine and music came as a surprise to a few, but we showed that we really do have much to be proud of. The local committee – Roger Nuttall, the British Consul; Mark Stilwell of Gericonstroi and Mark Rawcliffe of The Resident – all worked very hard to make this event a success, and I want to thank each of them for their contribution. I hope that we as a committee can look forward to welcoming lots of people to our various BPCC events during next year!”