Dinner the night before last was the other end of the scale from day 1. Not that it was the best food we’ve ever had (the fat duck takes the honours there, snail porridge and all). But, the food was excellent, and the general ambiance superb. Since I can’t upload photos at the minute (EDIT – I can now I’m back home!), I’ll have a crack at explaining why … though I’m not sure that if I did use a thousand words it would be better than a picture, and there won’t be nearly that many.
We were in the old town of Faro, which feels like it’s been stopped in time – not only is there is little evidence of modern life, but few signs of life at all. We never saw any houses that appeared occupied, even though they were all in good repair. In the centre is a reasonably large square, with a large old church in it, and a small restaurant with seating outside. I’m not sure what the collective noun for city open-air restaurants is, but it feels like it might be ‘a jostle of’ or ‘a loudness of’. Here the church and the single restaurant are it. And, I do mean small – there is seating for maybe 35 people, so almost an intimate open-air experience. But, it’s not dead – there are comings and goings, just not a huge amount of it, so giving the whole place a peaceful air. It was about as far from fast food as I can imagine.
Better yet, there weren’t just waiting staff, the proprieter was also there, helping selections and chatting without intruding. A was after cranberry juice – who knows why, but not something that appears to be remotely common in Portugal (sensible people). He tried hard to describe cranberries, but after a some wild and clearly unhelpful gesticulation, it became clear that what the proprietor thought it was was a marrow, and he was understandably surprised that anyone should want a marrow based drink.
The food as mentioned before was excellent. Well thought through, well presented, and delicious. Annoyingly, I can’t quite recall the name, so we better go back tonight!
As an aside, dinners have produced some class misquotes, for some reason. We’ve been blaming the heat :-
Someone said (quite why now passed in the mists of time) ‘I danced merrily as a cow’ – and the reposte was – ‘that’s like a famous poem. Do you know which one?’. Some confused and surprised looks, as we wondered if it was someone like Roger McGough. ‘. You know, it goes – ‘I danced merrily as a cloud, across a sea of daffodils’.
Challenged to quote something from any classic, we had ‘Juliet, Juliet, wherefore art thou Juliet’. Then ‘A kingdom, a kingdom, a kingdom for my horse’. The sort of thing Calligula might have said, and not a quote from Shakespeare – though the play claimed was the rather lesser known Henry the Seventh, so maybe he was recycling lines by then :-). Some classics brushing up needed chez Pye.
Right, dinner calls.