São Brás de Alportel is a typical Algarvian town in a municipality in the District of Faro in Portugal.
The laid back lifestyle and countryside setting make for a lovely relaxed holiday away from the busier areas near the coast. The village itself has a mix of low white washed buildings in the square and beautiful ornate tile fronted houses with Juliette balconies in the quieter narrow side streets.
Portugal produces more than 50% of the worlds cork and São Brás de Alportel was once the biggest manufacturer in both Portugal and the world.
In São Brás de Alportel the local cooking is marked by the perfume of fresh herbs picked in the hills, whether it be the oregano used in Gazpacho or the pennyroyal in the thick bread soup known as açorda. In the hunting season the rich, gamey flavours of wild rabbit in wine are not to be missed. Kid with peas, chicken, fried with garlic, eggs with tomato and chickpeas with eggs are all a familiar sight on dinner tables in country kitchens.
São Brás de Alportel is known for its almond confectionery which is especially popular at Easter time. Also much appreciated is the spirit slowly distilled from the fruit of the arbutus berry trees that grow in the hills, which is also used to make excellent herbal liqueurs.
A walk in the Barrocal Villages nestling between hills. Walls of whitewashed stone flashing in the sun. The lush foliage of almond, fig, carob and pomegranate trees. The bright colours of windows and doors standing out from plain facades. From Mesquita, with its typical water mill, through the picturesque villages of Desbarato Mealhas, Gralheira and Vilarinhos, this route offers a fascinating insight into the Barrocal, the intermediate country that lies between the coast and the hills of the interior.
Up into the hills Vast open spaces, pure air, fresh vistas around every corner. Then hamlets of just four or five houses perched on a hill top. A feeling that time has stopped, a sense of penetrating the secret heart of the Algarve.