Sea. River. Hill.
Al Gharb, in Arabic, means the west or the territory to the west, or the westernmost region of Al Andaluz
It is the Algarve from the Barlavento, to the West, with the municipalities of Aljezur, to the Northwest, and Vila do Bispo, to the Southwest, to welcome the wind, to the Sotavento, located to the East, on the opposite side from the source of the wind power, with the municipalities of Alcoutim, Castro Marim and Vila Real de Santo António bordering with neighbouring Spain. The sum of the two parts converges in a temperate Mediterranean climate characterized by short winters and a long summer season.
To the Southwest and South, the arid climate and the arid soil is reflected in the inhospitable cliffs that dominate the Algarve coast bathed by the Atlantic interrupted by the sandy beaches, from the largest to the most remote. The same sea bursts peaceful in the Ria Formosa Natural Park, to the East, and fades at the feet of such a beautiful landscape chosen by the species of birds that, throughout the year, lend their different tones to this soothing environment, a place chosen for production, from halophyte plants, the natural marine vegetables that Miguel Salazar's RiaFresh develops based on the high-quality standard.
The same waters of the ocean encourage fishermen who, at dawn, go out to sea and at daybreak head to the fishing ports, to leave the fish that Pedro Bastos chooses for his Nutrifresco. Here the seasonality and the conditions of the fish weigh, out of respect for nature and in the name of an infinity of typical dishes of the Algarve cuisine. Without forgetting the bivalves or crustaceans that are so desirable, either at the starters or to continue the meal, in addition to the rich rice made with such diverse sea products.
Inland, the mountains of Caldeirão, Espinhaço de Cão and Monchique raise the soil and show a leafier landscape and the predominance of goat cattle, especially in the first two, the second being known for hunting, an activity that gives rise to dishes of partridge and rabbit present in the Algarve’s gastronomy.
But it is in the Barrocal, located between the sea and the mountains, that we find the creation of the Alentejo pig, born and raised in Zambujal, Alcoutim, and therefore Feito no Zambujal, the name of Manuel and Rui Jerónimo's company, which invite fans of sausages visiting the factory and tasting their products.
Up-country, we also travel to the Sapal de Castro Marim Nature Reserve and Vila Real de Santo António, in the Barlavento, where Jorge Raiado shows how to extract the fleur de sel with the stamp of Salmarim, in the ancestral salt flats of Castro Marim. This is the raw material for seasoning and intensifying the flavour of cooking, salads, and other dishes from a cuisine full of tradition. Add the dry fruits, ingredients of the Algarve sweets and the famous orange, honey, and cheeses, to finish off the meal.