Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Surf, sandy wetsuits, sunsets and seafood, seafood, seafood...

Well I know I promised in the last post that I wasn't going to gloat but what a holiday... I’ve still got the glow even though I flew home five days and was greeted back with grey skies, rain and 240 expectant emails.

I’d never been to Portugal before but think we unexpectedly hit the jackpot.  We were in a little town called Arrifana on the western coast of the Algarve.  It was tucked well away from the usual tourist honeypots with a harshly arid landscape, bright red soil and that amazing smell I always associate with hot climates; citrus, eucalyptus and pine. 
We were perfectly positioned – close enough to the beach to walk and with views of the glowing orange sunsets. 
Highlights for me were: the company of great friends; delicious food; surfing every day; my friend Nina's invention of "Mungo" (the worst cocktail EVER); spending the week with my friend’s young son referring to me as “Uncle Lindsay”; Dolly Parton impersonations (it was a drunken birthday – what else are you supposed to do with all those balloons?), Net-Spoon championships*... oh and did I mention the foooodddd... We had breakfasts in the sun after early surfs, long lazy lunches, and barbecued fresh fish every evening... Delicious!

*It would probably be best not to explain the wonder of Net-Spoon (I imagine some of the beauty will be lost in translation) but in case anyone is interested in this bizarre game it involves competing to throw the contents of the cutlery drawer into the pool cleaning net. 

Low points were restricted to (...and lets face it, it wasn't much of a low): getting one of the fins of my surfboard in the back of my head on day one.  I had to spend the rest of the day (unable to surf as no-one had ready access to some superglue to stick me back together) being mocked by my friends with a makeshift bandage made from a blue swab (donated by a very unsure looking lifeguard) and a spare pair of bikini bottoms...
Truly I can't believe how fast the week went - I could have spent months in the same routine and not got bored!

Once back, in a bid to keep my holiday feeling going for a bit longer I made these Portuguese style biscuits for my colleagues... I bought "The Gourmet Cookie Book" after reading this post and I'm SOOOO glad I did... these little loves are ridiculously easy to make:

Preheat the oven to 180˚C.  Mix the ground almonds, bread crumbs and sugar in a bowl.  Separate three of the eggs.  Whisk the egg whites until stiff and fold into the mixture.  Add the almond extract and mix.

Roll spoonfuls into small balls and place on a greased baking sheet.  Make an indentation in the top of each of the cookies. 
Beat together the egg yolks and the remaining whole egg.  Fill the hollows in the top of each biscuit with approximately half a teaspoon of beaten egg mixture.  Then top it off with a whole almond. 
Bake for approximately 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Almond Bolas (Portuguese Almond Cookies):
3 cups ground almonds
1 1/2 cups dry bread crumbs
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs (3 separated, 1 whole)
1 1/2tsp almond extract
Whole almonds, enough to stud the top of each cookie

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