Arroz de Lingueirão – Razor clam rice – Casa Velha, Cacela Velha, Portugal

arrozdelangueiraoOk, so once again I am confronted with a sea creature that I have feared most of my life: the razor clam! I first came across one when I was about nine years old,one breezy summer afternoon,  while searching for small clams on the island of Tavira. The sight of a long and narrow shell from which peeked a slimy long mollusc was almost traumatizing! So, later in life, whenever someone mentioned  the ever so popular  razor clam, I’d cringe with disgust.

But now, I am all grown up and willing to face it in its most delicious state: arroz de lingueirão, razor clam rice. A brothy stew made with tomatoes, onions, garlic, white wine, clove and lots of fresh coriander. I am humbled to admit that it’s one of the most delicious meals I’ve every had. Of course, these sweet and tender razor clams were  diced and not served whole so, that visibly, I believe,  makes a great difference.lingueiraocloseup

I was recommended Casa Velha and became weary at first because, right outside, I saw a menu in English. For a moment, I’d forgotten that this is the Algarve and there is a huge foreign population that come here all year round so, I mustn’t  judge.

It turned out to be a genuinely good place to eat and if everything else  is cooked as well as this rice dish, this place is phenomenal. I’ve heard they serve great fish and many other seafood stews as well.  Perhaps that’s why it’s always packed and tables are really hard to come by and although at lunch time you most likely won’t have a problem finding one, it’s highly recommended that you make  reservations for dinner. This is definitely no tourist trap!

 

casavelhafrontCasa Velha

Rua de Cacela Velha

Vila Nova de  Cacela

Algarve

Tel: 281 952 297

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Azenhas Do Mar – Sintra, Portugal

clamsretouchedRight outside one of Portugal’s most enchanting towns – Sintra-  stands Azenhas Do Mar  on the rocky Atlantic coast. A big fish sign welcomes you into what feels almost like a boathouse hanging from a cliff. Wooden ceilings and enormous windows surround you with a breathtaking spectacle of   waves that  gently beat against the rocks.  This, combined with the  soothing nautical atmosphere of whitewashed wooden chairs and white linens, makes for  the perfect setting to relax and enjoy a good “seafarer’s ” meal.

azbreadA menu consisting of mostly fish and seafood, as well as a few meat choices, was no surprise but the attention to detail in the presentation and the service certainly was. As we sat down, the waiter kindly placed on our table a small platter with olives and local cheese, as well as  a basket of warm crusty bread. Soon after, we were poured some lovely chilled Alvarinho wine as we were offered to look at  the menu.

From a cornucopia of  fresh oysters, barnacles, octopus, shrimp, lobster and, of course, cod fish, I gave into my weakness for clams. These  famous  amêijoas á Bulhão Pato did not disappoint. The name is a tribute to a 19th century Portuguese poet named Raimundo António Bulhão Pato who was very much a gourmand.

azsignThese perfectly  cooked small  clams are served in a succulent broth made with white wine, garlic, fresh coriander and lemon. Some of the most flavorful ones I have ever tried and it’s  certainly no coincidence that this dish is considered one of the seven wonders of  Portuguese gastronomy. 

The hilly trip along the coast was worth every minute, not just for the sights, but for the chance to taste this fantastic dish.                        azocean

 

azenhasdomarRestaurante Piscina Azenhas do Mar
Azenhas do Mar 2705-104
Colares – Sintra

P (+351) 219 280 739
azenhas-do-mar@sapo.pt