All Aboard The Aperitivo Train!

On my last visit to France I discovered an unusual way to serve my favourite dips hummus, Tzatziki and guacamole.

All aboard the Aperitivo Train - a great way to serve dips!

All aboard the Aperitif Train – a great way to serve dips!

The idea was SO simple yet effective I’m surprised I did not think of it myself! As you can see from the photographs the peppers form the train carriages which hold the vegetable sticks, and dishes are used for the dips.

Train

– Food glue or cocktail sticks to attach the cucumber wheels to the peppers.
– Aluminum foil to cover serving tray.
– An assortment of coloured peppers (red, yellow, orange and green) which form the train carriages.
– 1 cucumber cut into slices for the wheels

1. Cover a flat serving tray with aluminum foil
2. Carefully remove one side of the pepper and remove seeds. Wash inside of peppers and dry.
3. Attach cucumber wheels with food glue or cocktail sticks (cut to size)
4. Arrange peppers in a circle or S shape on covered serving tray.
5. Spoon dips into dishes and add to the centre of the tray.

Vegetable sticks

Cut vegetables, such as carrots and celery, into sticks and arrange in the ‘pepper’ train carriages

Voilà!

Bon Appétit…

Now I just need to invite some friends to marvel at my creative genius… yeah, right. Trots off the find some ‘dip’ recipes and then some friends.

All aboard the 'Aperitif Train'

All aboard the ‘Aperitif Train’

Gazanias – Unusual Daisies With Exquisite Detail

I love the way the droplets of water linger on the petals and leaves like tiny bubbles. These are small details we often fail to notice yet when captured in a photograph remind us of the simplicity of nature.

Gazania

Gazania

Other details include the unusual combinations of colours.

Gazania (pink and cream striped petals)

Gazania (pink and cream striped petals) Photo taken in Spring

And bees gathering pollen.

Gazania with yellow and orange flowers

Gazania with yellow and orange flowers (photo taken in Spring)

While I find Gazanais relatively easy to grow, I disagree with the experts comment that they are drought resistant. If I don’t water my plants regularly they resemble a bed of birds nests.

Are Gazanias drought resistant?

 

Gazanias are not drought resistant. (July 2016)

Gazanias are not drought resistant. (July 2016)

Useful websites for care of Gazanias
About Home
Gardening Knowhow

This post was inspired by the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge. This week’s theme is ‘Details’

Monster Tomatoes!

I don’t know the name or variety of these tomatoes but they sure are HUGE!!!  (I’ve since been informed they are ‘Rosa’ tomatoes). This year I bought several baby tomato plants from Silves monthly market which is held on the 3rd Monday of each month.

This is an excellent market for vegetable plants, fruit bushes and trees.

Giant Tomatoes

Giant Tomatoes

In my best pidgeon Portuguese I asked the plant seller for ‘Muito grande, tomates’. The lady nodded with a grunt and a smile then presented me with six plants. My purchase based purely on trust and a leap of faith were planted in my recently manured vegetable area. Yes, I splashed the cash and with the encouragement of a dear friend went to the local stables to buy some horse manure.

Monster Tomato!

Monster Tomato!

The first tomato of the crop weighed in at 1 lb 8oz

Although the tomatoes were a little misshapen and would win no EU awards for the ‘perfect tomato’ they tasted absolutely delicious.

 

The tomato weighed 1lb 8 oz!

The taste and texture of the flesh reminded me of beefsteak tomatoes we used to buy in the UK. There were hardly any pips and they were far less watery than normal tomatoes.

I will certainly be saving the seeds for next year’s crop!

These tomato plants the mother of the monster tomatoes!

These tomato plants are the mothers of the monster tomatoes!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Opposites: Remain or Leave?

The theme for this week’s WordPress challenge is ‘Opposites’. Contemplating the differences in opinion for Brexit: ‘Remain’ or ‘Leave’, how could I express the extremes behind the vote and the wisdom of the ‘Leave’ result in terms of a photograph?

In the end it will boil down to money. Some think the UK will be better off leaving the EU while others disagree. Some people will benefit financially while others won’t. There are always winners and losers so let’s just hope the UK ‘leavers’ with their ‘island’ mentality eat their words and count the money (or not).

So for my ‘Opposites’ contribution I present a photograph of money: coins and notes. Both of value yet represented by different properties.

Counting the cost of Brexit

Counting the cost of Brexit

What does recycling and growing strawberries have in common?

With a little creativity it’s amazing what containers you can use to grow strawberries.

I love Strawberries

I love Strawberries

Deep plastic crates prove excellent containers for growing strawberries, lettuce or rocket. Line the crates with black plastic and make holes in the base area to allow for drainage. Add stones, then good quality compost and voilá!

Because the containers are not that deep I do keep the soil moist and once the strawberry plants start to flower I usually water with a liquid feed about ever two weeks. So far so good and I have an abundance of sweet strawberries through the spring and summer months.

I usually buy the strawberry plants from local markets, or if I am being really ‘thrifty’ I repot the strawberry runners from mature plants.

Strawberries also grow well in crates

Strawberries also grow well in crates

Recently, a family of blackbirds discovered my stache of delicious strawberries and were eating them before I had my share. I don’t mind sharing, but they were just plain greedy!

I tried various tactics to deter the birds until I hit on the idea of using …

How to protect your strawberries from the birds

How to protect your strawberries from the birds

Yep you’ve guessed, upturned crates as covers. They not only provided a rigid protective guard they also filtered the strong summer sun which in turn helped with moisture retention.

Happy days!

Do you grow strawberries in unusual containers? Any success, hints or tips?

Image

Weekly Photo Challenge: Curve

The theme for this week’s WordPress photo challenge is curve. Initially I was drawn to architectural curves and the many photos I’d taken of archways and bridges. But how boring… so seeking inspiration I looked in the mirror and thought of ‘bodily ‘curve’s’ and the sculptures of Karl Heinz Stock displayed in the extensive grounds of Quintos Dos Vales wine estate near Lagoa in the Algarve.

Sculpture of Swinging Grace by Karl Heinz Stock

Sculpture of Swinging Grace by Karl Heinz Stock

Sculpture by Karl Heinz Stock

Sculpture by Karl Heinz Stock

Sculptures by Karl Heinz Stock

Sculptures by Karl Heinz Stock

How can bony be beautiful when you have curves like these?

Parasitic Plant?

About six months ago I noticed some strange sort of fungi, as I thought at the time, growing on the branches of the Melaleuca hedge, Olive tree and Bottle Brush bush. I took a sample to our local garden-cum-hardware shop where you can by everything from garden hoses, seeds, garden tools etc. to chemicals to treat various pests and diseases. The guy who served me just gave me a ‘Portuguese shrug’ and told me to feed the plants to encourage growth. I was also given the same advice by someone else.

Parasitic plant growing on olive tree branches

Parasitic plant growing on olive tree branches


I dutifully fed the plants with slow release blue granular fertilizer and thought nothing more about it until we noticed the Melaleuca was losing all its greenery and was completely bald in several places. Not good for a hedge that was supposed to offer privacy.

Mr. Piglet set to and started scraping off the sprouting fungi while I attempted to consult Mr. Google for an answer.I am no further forward as I write this post except I now know they are called a Parasitic Plant.

Parasitic plant growing on branches of olive tree

Parasitic plant growing on branches of olive tree

What I don’t know as yet if there is a product I can buy which will kill it without killing the host plant. Suggestions welcome!

Why am I here… ?

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is Eye Spy.

Sad Eyes

Sad Eyes

I see you,
do you really see me
behind the bars
of captivity… ?

7 Restaurants With Good Food And Great Views In The Western Algarve

Are you stuck for somewhere to eat and looking for inspiration such as a nice restaurant with good food as well as great views? Here are my suggestions (listed in no particular order) for the wild West of Portugal. .

LAGOS

Lazy Jacks

Lagos Marina
Tel: (+351) 911568143
Wheelchair access: Yes
Parking: Yes
Accessible by train: Yes. Two minutes walk from the station.
Facebook: www.facebook.com/lazyjackslagos
Open from 9am until late, 7 days a week.

What a find! Last week we were looking for a bar to have cocktails and was attracted by the music and ambiance at Lazy Jacks. Lazy Jacks is in a stunning location right on Lagos Marina. The restaurant (Bar and Grill) serves delicious food and we found the staff friendly and efficient. There is live music every Thursday and Sunday and from our experience well worth a visit (NB times seem to vary according to season so it is worth checking in advance if you are making a special journey). If you are looking for Christmas Lunch or a New Year’s Eve Party – check out their Facebook page for further details!

Lazy Jacks at Lagos Marina is the perfect location for a cocktail! December 2015December 2015

Lazy Jacks at Lagos Marina is the perfect location for a cocktail! December 2015

Lazy Jacks - Lagos Marina. View from inside the restaurant

Lazy Jacks – Lagos Marina. View from inside the restaurant

Golden Years Menu - Lazy Jacks - Lagos Marina.

Golden Years Menu – Lazy Jacks – Lagos Marina.

View from Lazy Jacks, Lagos Marina

View from Lazy Jacks, Lagos Marina

Portofino’s

Lagos Marina, First floor
Tel: 282799834
Website: www.portofinoslagos.com
Access to 1st floor  via steps or lift.
Happy Hour Pizza and Pastas 12.00-14.30 and 17.30-18.30

Italian restaurant with good food, beautiful decor  in a stunning location. ‘Happy Hour’ specials. A little pricey, but prices reflect location and quality of food. Service can be very slow in high season due to its popularity.

Portofino's, Lagos Marina

Portofino’s, Lagos Marina

View from our table at Portofino's

View from our table at Portofino’s

 

Campi Mar (restaurant bar)

Praia do Porto de Mós
Lagos
Tel: (+351) 282 762 957
facebook.com/campima

Campi Mar, Praia do Porto Mós, Lagos

Campi Mar, Praia do Porto Mós, Lagos

Praia Porto de Mós, Lagos

Praia Porto de Mós, Lagos

 

O Camilo

Praia do Camilo
Ponte da Piadade
Tel: (+351) 282763845
Nice seafood restaurant with great view. Parking can be a problem because of the popular O Camilho beach below. The restaurant has good sea views and even though it is situated just outside Lagos,  it is well worth trying especially if you incorporate your meal with a trip to the beautiful beach of Praia do Camilo.

O Camilo Restaurant, Lagos

O Camilo Restaurante, Lagos

View from restaurante o camilo

View from restaurante o camilo

Why not ‘walk off’ your meal and visit Praia do Camilo?

Praia do o camilo

Praia do o camilo

LUZ

Fortaleza da Luz

Praia da Luz.
(Opposite the church)
Tel: (+351) 282 789 926 or Mobile: (+351) 912 511 196
Website: www.fortalezadaluz.com
Entertainment: Sunday from March – November there is Jazz between 12.00 -15.00 and Thursday evening there is a dinner dance.
Fortaleza da Luz is in a stunning location. Not only does it have stunning sea views there is also an amazing garden. Food and service good.

Restaurant Fortaleza, Praia da Luz

Restaurante Fortaleza da Luz, Praia da Luz

Restaurant Fortaleza, Praia da Luz

Restaurant Fortaleza, Praia da Luz

Restaurant Fortaleza, Praia da Luz

Restaurant Fortaleza, Praia da Luz

PRAIA DA INGRINA

Restaurante do Sebastião

Praia da Ingrina
Raposeira
Tel:282639034

Restaurante do Sebastião is situated in an idyllic location right on the beach. Our favourite meal is the delicious lamb stew which I believe is only available on a Sunday by pre-order. This secluded cove is perfect for families with young children and the restaurant/cafe is the icing on the cake. Although the restaurant is on level ground, there are a few uneven steps down to the beach. Parking  is problematic in high/mid-season so don’t arrive and expect to pull straight into a parking space unless you arrive early. Please be patient because service can be slow. Chill and relax!

View from Restaurant do Sebastião, Praia da Ingrina

View from Restaurant do Sebastião, Praia da Ingrina

Restaurant do Sebastião, Praia do Ingrina

Restaurant do Sebastião, Praia do Ingrina

READERS’ CHOICE

For my seventh offering, please recommend a restaurant of you choice and I will visit and then include the details here.

Please be mindful that during peak season the quality of food and service of the above restaurants may vary.
Related Post: Praia da Ingrina

Has the sun set on your dreams?

Motivation Monday

Motivation Monday

… or are you still dreaming?