Just come back from a sales conference which was held at the Pine Cliffs hotel in Albufeira,  Portugal.  Despite working hard and planning for 2017, still managed to get some downtime.   I always say ‘all work and no play makes Ray a dull boy’.

The temperature was 11-13 degrees in Albufeira . If you was in the shade, you would have needed a coat. Only had 1 hour before pre-arranged tour. The hotel complex was huge and had to find my bearings. With the room card in one hand and luggage in the other, I went to search for my room. I wasn’t disappointed as the room overlooked the poolside and the sea.

Dropped my bags in the hotel room, quickly freshened up, and headed for the nearest cafe for a latte and the famous Portuguese tarts or ‘Pastel de Nada’. The cafe was a good walk from my hotel room but enough to build up an appetite for my treat.

Saw my ‘tour buddies’ sitting in the courtyard and they waved me over. They had already ordered and eaten the tarts before me and told me their experiences. With no hesitation, I ordered my drink and the Portuguese pastry which shortly arrived.

Little custard tarts in puff pastry cases which are not just Portugal’s most famous sweet creation, but one of its greatest dishes of any kind. A decent bite and I nearly forgot where I was. The puff pastry was light, flaky, and profoundly buttery. The filling was slightly wobbly….and no I didn’t share.

Now ready for a tuk tuk tour was arranged for myself and a couple of colleagues to have a quick overview of the resort. For 2 1/2 hours, we managed to squeeze a lot in to get the feel for the resort.

Our driver was Momo who kindly showed us around his neighbourhood. I couldn’t resist wearing my Japanese glasses for the afternoon (looking into the rear view mirror)

Stopped by a small cafe and simply ordered a grilled fish. However, my objective was to order foods that originated from Algarve and Dom Rodrigo was one of them. No, it didn’t look pretty and yes it did look like an opened and used nappy. The dish was wrapped up in gold foil lined with baking paper.

Once opened, the dish generated several expressions from my colleagues and I was curious to know what the dish was ( Momo, the driver had recommended it). The dish is supposed to have originated from nuns of a convent in Lagos. The nuns thanked Dom Rodrigo from Faro for supporting victims in an earthquake in 1755 and dedicated this dessert to him .  Made of egg threads cooked slowly in sugar with added almonds and then wrapped.

The dessert is incredibly sweet and reminds me of an Indian dessert called Gajar Halwa that I once had in Bradford. Thankfully I didn’t add sugar to my Coffee latte.

It wasn’t long before we had to head back to base. Momo told us he would take us to this beautifully secluded beach at the beginning of the trip. He wasn’t wrong. Down a narrow walkway and passing a very expensive private dwelling, you end up in the small cove. Simply breathtaking. We stayed for a while mopping up the beaming sun before reluctantly leaving.

img_20170126_093749_hdrBehind the double doors was where most of the meetings took place. However, this is the courtyard where we practiced our leg stretching and the etiquette of drinking coffee.

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Off to Bovino restaurant which was a great steakhouse with great atmosphere.

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I love my steaks but didn’t want to risk an episode of gout so I opted for the Mushroom Linguini as my main course. I haven’t got a photo to show as the plate of pasta was rubbish. Remember, I am in a steakhouse.

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Temptation got the better of me. However, I shared my love to others and rewarded myself with a large glass of red wine or two.

I went for a light breakfast of coffee latte and this little rice cake called Bolo de Arroz. A light buttery type muffin with a hint of lemon that melted in the mouth. I actually picked up another Bolo de Arroz from the breakfast counter before swiftly running to my morning meeting. I couldn’t help but snap the rising sun whilst the golf course had its morning shower.

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A quick walk to the beach during lunch to see what the fuss was all about.

img_20170125_222352_hdrCouldn’t get a birthday cake for my colleague, so I took the initiative and merged the table display with a spare dessert plate.