The Alentejo is Portugal’s best kept secret. The countryside is beautiful, the people friendly and welcoming, the roads are quiet, the food is fabulous, the wine delicious and the sun shines.
The mill is in the western Alentejo, 26 miles (46km) to the Atlantic coast and located between Odemiera and Orique. We haven’t explored much to the east of Beja although we have been north of Beja to Evora, Portugal’s impressive old capital and down to Mértola and to the lake beach and impressive mining ruins at Mina de São Domingos. As we explore further we will expand this section.
Gavin McOwan of Guardian Newspaper has written a nice article about the Alentejo. If you’re visiting it is worth a read: Empty Promise – nice title :)
Food & Wine
The food in the Alentejo is mainly fish or meat with salad, or stews with beans. Cataplana is a popular fish stew pot well worth enjoying and frango piri piri is a treat. (BBQ’d hot chicken – and NOT peri peri as Nando’s would have you believe).
The Alentejo has fabulous specialties: Lombo de Porco com Amêijoas, or Porco à Alentejana – (pork and clams) and Cozido de grão com Vagens à Alentejana (lamb and chickpeas) are our favourites. The fresh salads and the chips/fries (usually fresh and shallow fried) are worth a mention as they are usually stunning.
The Alentejo is a wine growing region and the local wines are delicious. Table wines in most places will cost you 3 or 4 Euros for a large carafe. You’d be hard pressed to find a £10 supermarket wine in the UK that comes close. Um jarro de vinho tinto da casa = a jug of the house red wine. Every little place to eat will do it and it will always be very drinkable.
Support the local economy by shopping locally when you can.
The Alentejo Coast
The Alentejo coastline is a protected nature reserve it remains unspoilt and retains much of the magic the Algarve has lost over recent decades. The west coast beaches have higher surf than the more sheltered Algarve and attract surfers from all over the world. As a rule the beaches at the mouths of rivers/streams: Odeceixe, Carvalhal, Zambujeira do Mar, Furnas & Vila Nova de Milfontes all have good areas protected from the surf and are safer for younger children.
In the south there’s Odeceixe, a small town on the river Seixe, The wide beach: Praia de Odeceixe (photo). It’s is a 4km drive from the town along the river.