Sagres and the Vicentina Coast : Ceviche with avocado, cilantro and ginger

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First part of our trip to Portugal with the Algarve region. This region in the southern part of Portugal is renowned for its beautiful beaches but is also a destination of choice for tourists during the summer months. When we were researching where to stay during this trip, we got a lukewarm reception from our friends and family. They said that Algarve had the reputation to being very crowded and filled with seaside towns with high-rises and multilingual menus in restaurants. So that was very far from the small village atmosphere we were looking for. We kept looking and quickly crossed of our list some towns but in the middle of it we found Sagres at the western point of Algarve. The guidebooks were describing it as a surfer’s town with an end-of-the-world feel. We were sold !

When we got there, it totally lived up to our expectations. The town in itself is very charming, quite small with a port, a market to get fresh produce and fish, some traditional cafes where the local grandpas are meeting. But there are also some cool surfer bars and restaurant that serve grilled meat and fish on the beach. We even found some places with good design without being show-off.

It was the perfect base camp to explore the region which offers magnificent landscapes within 20 km. In the south, we found beaches surrounded by ocher cliffs, covered with perennial plants, calm and clear water and frequented by families.

In the west, never-ending beaches with black cliffs or sand dunes (like in the Landes region where I’m from) with unrelenting waves perfect for surfing (which we did ! you may not know but I surfed a lot when I was a teenager and I got back to it 2 years ago). On all the beaches, there are small cafes and snack where you can have lunch or just a drink, the atmosphere is very laid back as this coast is mostly frequented by surfers and families going camping in the nature.

Also, a day when the coast was windy with misty rain, we went farther inland to find small villages with white houses built around an old church, a greener nature, and meandering roads. We explored Monchique, a mountain town that is a starting point of hikes in the Serra do Monchique. We chose to hike in Mt Picota, through a forest of eucalyptus, cork oaks, strawberry trees. Up there, the view on the region is breathtaking.

Well, it is quite obvious how much I liked this region, its wild nature and the variety of its landscapes. We took it day by day, doing what we were in the mood for, exploring different beaches according to the direction of the wind of the swell, going swimming in sheltered beaches like you do in the Mediterranean, reading in the shades, having lunch with a view on the sea.

I loved wandering the streets of Sagres, going to the market with the locals stocking up on vegetables and fresh fish for the barbecue, taking l’apéritif in our deck at sunset, getting wild in the bars in town after dinner. This town definitely feels like the windswept end-of-world, slightly old-fashioned with a California vibe.

One of the dinners we made was this ceviche with avocado, cilantro and ginger. It’s really fresh and bright, perfect to end a sunny day spent at the beach. You can make it after the beach, with your pareo wrapped around your waist, you feed covered in sand and you hair still salty. I serve it with basmati rice but you can also eat it as an appetizer.

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Sagrès
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Ceviche with avocado, cilantro and ginger

Serves 4

Ingredients
600g (21oz) of whte fish filet like seabass, sea bream or cod
2 avocados, sliced
1/2 cucumber, seeded and diced
1 small onion (white or red), minced
1 bunch of cilantro
2 tbsp of olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
Juice and zest of 1 lime
4 cm (1.5 inch) piece of ginger, grated
2 pinches of Espelette pepper (or some mild pepper powder)
Salt

Instructions
1. Prepare the marinade : mix the oil, juice of the lemon and lime, lime zest, grated ginger, pepper and onion.
2. Dice the fish filets and add it to the marinade. Mix well. Put the marinade in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
3. A few minutes before serving, add the cilantro, cucumber, avocado slices. Salt to taste.
4. Serve with rice for a full meal

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Chilled Zucchini Soup with Feta and Dill

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I’ve been home from holidays since Sunday. I visited Portugal and came back tanned, rested and truly amazed by this country. I don’t actually realise that we’ve been gone for 10 days, it went by so fast and at the same time it was so dense and rich that I feel I’ve been away for a longer time. I’m already editing and selecting the photos for two posts to come (one on Lisbon and the other on the Algarve region) with recipe that have inspired me while I was there.

Today, I’m sharing a recipe that fits in the category “easy, quick and to do today”, it’s totally in season and really convenient ! Zucchinis are overflowing our markets in France and it’s probably one of my favorite summer vegetable (even if I’m guilty of consuming it all year). I think it’s a very versatile vegetable, I use it raw in salads, roasted with a fish, sauteed in an omelet, grated in a gratin. You got it, I can’t stop using it :) . However it was new to me to have it as a chilled soup, I think it is really worth sharing as it offers a good alternative to the traditional summer gazpacho.

I strangely have a similar problem with feta cheese, I always have some in my fridge and when I’m think about new recipe it always finds a way to pop up in my head. In my defense, it really adds a new layer of flavor here as it counterbalances the “green” flavor of the zucchini and gives a salty and creamy note to the dish.

As a finishing note, I added dill, which I love, to vary from mint or basil, our summer staples.

I will come back next week to share my Portuguese adventures :)

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Chilled zucchini soup with feta and dill
Serves 2

Ingredients

2 medium size zucchini (300g), diced
1 onion, minced
1 1/4 cup (30cl) of vegetable stock
1.8 oz (50g) of feta, crumbled
2 tbsp of olive oil
1/2 bunch of dill
Salt & Pepper

Instructions

1. In a saucepan, cook the onion until translucent with 1 tbsp of olive oil, then add the zucchini. Let it cook for 5 minutes.
2. Add the stock, and let the soup simmer for 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
3. Let the soup cool down.
4. Mix the soup with the dill, until smooth. Serve with the crumbled feta, some springs of dill and 1 tbsp of olive oil.

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A flowery break

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Today I’m sharing with you some recent pictures, a beautiful bouquet of roses from my the garden of my friend’s auntie. The flowers were gorgeous, all different, some so tight they looked like peonies, others with a divine smell, with striped petals, or with the prettiest pink color. It would have been a shame not to photography them. I also realised that I’m quite found of taking pictures of flowers. It’s a delicate process because I want to capture every nuance of a bouquet, it’s a very different approach from food photography I think. I also tend to take way too many pictures and I’m very indecisive in choosing the one to keep (I’d love to keep them all !). I hope you will enjoy those flowers as much as I did.
A quick note to say that the blog is going on holiday mode until the end of the month ! I will be back in August with fresh summer recipes :)

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Breakfast after the rain : Greek Yoghurt with berries and toasted seeds

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You surely know this already if you’ve been reading this blog, but the weather this pas few weeks has been incertain to say the least. The weekends have been punctuated with bright rays of sunshine followed by floodlike rain. We have spent a lot of time in Biscarrosse, making the most of it. One of my favorite things to do during the warmer months is to take my breakfast outside, in the garden. It’s really soothing and allows me to start the day on a peaceful note.

Those pictures were taken after a shower, when the sun was just starting to come out and casted its beautiful light on the greens, heavy with rain.
The sky was still dark and grey, but a few rays of light were creating this incredible lighting. I was really smitten by it and took advantage of it to shoot my breakfast. Nothing fancy really, but I thought it could give you some ideas for your morning rituals.

Something that has been increasingly important for me is the aesthetics of the food I eat : I’m more enthusiastic if what I eat is pretty. I like starting my day on a beautiful note, a nice bowl, that forces me to take my time and enjoy.
There are many lovely recipes on the internet, and it is somewhat “trendy” to make pretty breakfasts : miam-aux-fruits, smoothie bowls, açai bowls, overnight oats, fruit parfaits, … and the list goes on.
My version is simpler but also delicious : fresh fruits, greek yogurt, toasted seeds (here sunflower), flax seed oil and some oats (if I want a more substantial meal).

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Greek Yoghurt with berries and toasted seeds

For 1 bowl

125g (4.4 oz) of greek yoghurt
Fresh fruits : raspberries, strawberries, blueberries (in winter : apples, kiwis, grappes, persimmons, pears)
Toastes seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, sesame) ou nuts (hazelnuts, pecans)
1 tsp of flax seed oil

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