We’ve Got Dahlias

New in the garden…

P1020562

P1020563

P1020564

Here is a three-layered hibiscus…

P1020565

And the first flower from a clematis. We had a great one back in Santa Rosa, but did not think they would do well in this climate. But Soo found one at Q Garden, so took a shot.

P1020567

Bob and Soo

Back to Normal

After a grueling Detroit-Newark-Munich-Faro return home, all I wanted to do was to sleep. That Newark-Munich leg just isn’t long enough to get any rest. It is two hours before they are clearing dinner, and they start breakfast with about ninety minutes to go, so that leaves only about three hours for a nap.

After eating ribs, fried chicken, a burger, coney dogs and a Reuben, I was ready for some local Portuguese food. So, for Sunday Roast, we went to Atalaya down the street, I had a roasted pork shank and Soo had a fish stew.

P1020561

Getting back to normal means planning our life around workmen. When we last had the painters here to finish up the inside walls back in June, we arranged for them to come back during July to seal up a balcony and the roof terrace. Last year, the house painters used a rubberized paint to seal leaks. But over the winter, the paint split at the seams of tiles underneath. Two different painters told us that the first guys should have laid down a mesh before painting to prevent splitting. So, we have our trusted painters doing this right.

We made another trip to the Oasis on Thursday for Malaysian night. The same curries from a couple weeks ago were repeated. It’s still a nice change, but I can see where the limited Malaysian dishes could get repetitious.

The weather was very hot early in the week, but mid-week, the northerly wind started blowing and the temps cooled dramatically. On Saturday, we went to Naturalgarve, an upscale garden center near Almancil. They have a really nice inventory, more mature than most garden centers. Though their prices are high relative to garden centers near Lagos, they are still cheaper than US prices. The weather out east was very warm. Normally, Lagos is a few degrees cooler than the East, but on Saturday, the difference was dramatic.

Today, it’s back to Portofino’s for Sunday Roast on the marina.

Bob and Soo

Been Away

On Saturday, I returned from another trip to the US. This would be the final trip needed for the project I am working on for AHCA/NCAL. This trip was to Detroit. While there, several local people asked what I had heard about Detroit, and what were my impressions. I answered honestly that most of what I heard was pretty dismal up until the past few years, when the news became more optimistic. They generally agreed that was how they felt also.

We saw a central core that was trying to recover through sports venues, gambling and a convention center. The recovery seems to be moving in the right direction, though slowly. There appears to be a lot of opportunity to get aboard this recovery. The core in particular is full of beautiful retro buildings, many of which are vacant. There are fewer restaurants than one would expect given all the sports and tourist venues. We actually spent a lot of time talking with the owner of a relatively new restaurant, the Rusted Crow, located in the Kales Building, maybe three blocks from Comerica where the Tigers play. He proudly shared with us his vision and how he and his brother brought it into being. The restaurant enjoys great reviews, deservedly so.

In other news, last Sunday, we tried to break out of the Sunday rut by venturing away from the marina. At first, we considered returning to the golf course at Espiche, when we remembered an ad in Tomorrow magazine for Fontenario’s, also in Espiche. The reviews in Tripadvisor were great, so I called on Saturday night to book. I asked whether their Sunday Grill would include chicken or fish, since Soo doesn’t eat any other meat, and they said there would be no problem.

We arrived just after noon on Sunday and the owner, Debbie, immediately moved a table so that we could sit out of the sun on Fontenario’s broad patio.

P1020559

Once she verified that we were the ones asking about meat alternatives, she told us that her daughter had marinated a nice chicken kebab and that they would also put some chicken parts on the grill. Debbie then asked Soo if she would like some fish as well, saying that would be no problem. Soo said that the chicken alone would be fine.

P1020560

Dinner started with a home-made cream of broccoli soup. Three different salads came out next, followed by the grilled meats and home-made chips (fries). After bringing out Soo’s chicken, Debbie brought me a plate of grilled meat that could feed a small village, and then told me that they were still working on a couple steaks for me. The meal also included dessert, and we both selected a dish of bananas on top of whipped cream, caramel pudding and a graham cracker crust. We never asked for seconds on anything, and actually wound up taking the leftovers and bones for our friend Terry’s dog, who was in heaven for the next week.

We can now add another venue to our rotation: beautiful location, great food and a hands-on owner who couldn’t do enough for us.

Bob and Soo

Rediscovering Iceland

Catching up, we had our second Malaysian Night at Oasis last Thursday. Soo and I split a chicken rendang and shrimp sambal, each served with achaar on the side. The food was very tasty and a welcome departure from our routine. We learned that the Oasis also features a Thai night on Wednesday, so we will need to give that a try as well.

On Friday, we went to the new Iceland supermarket in Portimao. We had been looking forward to its opening since we heard about it several months ago. This saves nearly a half-hour each way versus going to Guia. It opened a couple weeks ago, but we still hadn’t checked it out because we stocked up at Guia Iceland just before our London friends came to visit.

P1020557

The location is perfect, one roundabout over from Jumbo and another roundabout over from AKI hardware. The footprint is larger than the Guia shop and the aisles are much wider. The inventory was pretty close to the other store, though the beer and wine selection was larger. Also notable was a good-sized café. The best part was that this trip was the least we had ever spent at Iceland, since it will be so easy to hop over any time that we need something.

Bob and Soo

July WAGS

We attended the July meeting of the Western Algarve Gardening Society, hosted by Mike and Sue in Messines. It was our first time up in Messines, located in the hills east of Silves, nearly an hour from Lagos.  Mike was nice enough to meet us at the bus station so that we could follow him to his villa.

Their home has a long, cool front porch that perfectly shows off their mature bougainvillea.

P1020553

The event had a great turnout of about twenty.  After touring the grounds, Sue did a bread-making demo in which she made three different breads, start-to-finish in under an hour!

P1020556

When the bread came out of the oven, Sue brought out some chili jelly, fig chutney and several flavored olive oils, all home-grown and home-made.

Bob and Soo

A Malaysian Connection

Walking down the marina last Thursday evening for a farewell dinner with our London friends, an advertising sandwich board outside the Oasis restaurant caught our eye. The restaurant’s special of the day was Malaysian Curry! The Oasis was one of the only restaurants on the marina that we had not yet tried, so we didn’t know what to make of this new information. A plan was born. After our dinner at Portofino’s, we would swing by Oasis and get a take-away of the curry.

We went upstairs and had a great time with Prosecco, starters, mains, wine and dessert. After a two-hour meal, we headed back to the Oasis, only to see that the sandwich board had been brought in. Were we too late? I went up to the waitperson at the cash register and asked if there was any curry left. She assured me that there was, and I arranged a take-away, noting that my wife was born in Malaysia, so we were eager to try it. The waitress immediately flagged the owner and told her of the Malaysian connection. The owner hurried over and told us that she was from Ipoh in Malaysia. What a surprise! Soo and the owner started chatting like long-lost friends. They talked about locations, recipes, shopping and what brought us to Lagos. Finally, she told us that next week’s special would be rendang and shrimp sambar, by reservation only. Of course, we booked.

Our take-away curry was the real deal. The curry was spicy and had a hint of mint. Also included was an ample serving of pilau rice, a terrific daal, and an excellent raita. As I have noted in the past, one downside of this wonderful place to live is a lack of variety in quality dining choices. There are many great Portuguese restaurants, pretty decent North Indian, good Italian, and not much else. Chinese food lacks ingredients and variety. The resorts in the Eastern Algarve have some very expensive high-end food. For something beyond Portuguese Indian and Italian,  you need to search hard to break out of the rut. So, this was really great news.

We are looking forward to our next Malaysian meal and to learning more about our new friends.

Bob and Soo

I’ll Never Get Tired of This!

We spent the last full day of our London friends’ visit exploring the cliffs around Ponta da Piedade. During the afternoon, we hiked the trails between the lighthouse and Praia Dona Ana. And toward the evening, we explored the cliff grottoes by boat.

Driving out to the lighthouse parking area, there were cars parked all along both sides of the road, giving the impression that the area would be packed. But from the lighthouse, the possible choices are so vast that there was no sense of being over-crowded. We selected trails that would take us to the cliff’s edge to get a view of the sandstone towers below as well as the secluded beaches. Then, we would head back to a trail that would get us around to the next overlook.

P1020531

P1020532
Don Camillo Beach from the cliff

When we got to Don Camillo, we were surprised that a fence had been erected along the road to the parking area. We found a way around the fence, hoping to pick up a trail between Don Camillo and Dona Ana, but we were again surprised that the entire wilderness between the two beaches had been fenced as well. From a billboard along the road, it looks like they are trying to sell it for development.

We had no option but to hike back to the road and to walk to Dona Ana along the roadway. We had the same feeling at Dona Ana, that the traffic would indicate massive crowds, but the beach offered plenty of room.

P1020534
Dona Ana Beach from above

Earlier in the day we had stopped by the marina to book a boat for a 5:30 grotto tour so that we could immediately follow the tour with a farewell dinner at Portofino’s.

P1020535

P1020536

Our boat was a little shorter than we expected by maybe two rows. This turned out to be much to our benefit because the more maneuverable boat allowed the guide to take us into several small grottoes that the larger boat would not have been able to manage.

P1020546

P1020547

P1020548

The weather was windy, but we did not experience any chop until we got past the lighthouse. Our guide had one more grotto he wanted to take us into on that side of the point, and I shifted into white knuckle mode.

P1020549

P1020550

P1020552

All in all it was a perfect final day and very worthwhile to visit the cliffs from top to bottom. For myself, I doubt that I will ever get tired of these sights.

Bob and Soo