ATP – 10 Dec 17 – grandson’s Christmas


Garlic = o alho. (al-you). Alho is put into most savoury dishes in Portugal. I can remember an incident when we were sitting alfresco in a restaurant in Luz, and a lady at the table next to us wanted chicken, but she wanted it without garlic. It took several attempts before the waiter finally understood that the lady did not like garlic.


This is a news story that the Maritime Police have hauled in gang for taking 630kg of Japanese clams from the Tejo (Tagus, the river that runs through Lisbon).

On one of our early visits to Portugal, we went to Olhão (a large fishing port on the eastern Algarve). The guide book said one particular restaurant was highly recommended. We found the place and ordered clams. We asked what goes with clams. Errm, um, err, chips? So we had clams and chips. Delicious!

The restaurant moved, the chef moved, and the clams never quite hit that perfection again.

Clams are extremely cheap in Portugal. You need about 500g to 600g per person, because most of the weight is shell. You don’t eat them with a knife and fork. You pick up the clam with your hands and suck the contents out.

First, take your clams and give them a good scrub, to get rid of sand. Then plonk them in fresh water, so they spit out any sand they have ingested. Do this 2 or 3 times, unless you enjoy eating grit. You need to cycle them in cold water for about an hour.

Clams are delicately flavoured, so please keep quantities of the following down. A little bit of chopped garlic (alho). A little bit of finely chopped onion. A tiny bit of parsley or coriander. To turn the stock brown, which is what we had our first time, add a little bit of chorizo or some finely chopped mushroom.

Now that everything is prepared, you need to put a little olive oil into a big pan that has a lid. Under a medium heat, fry the onion for a few minutes, add the chorizo or mushroom and the garlic, and continue to fry.

From here, it is your choice. I prefer to put a small amount of boiling water into the pot. Others prefer a half bottle of white wine.

Into the pot go the clams. Seal the lid so that it takes 5 minutes to steam the clams. Throw in the parsley or coriander.

Hopefully you either made chips while the clams were cleaning, or you have nice fresh bread, because the jus is absolutely delicious. Enjoy!


My grandson was taken to Portimão yesterday to see Star Wars 8. As my grandson is 7 years old now, perhaps he will remember the trip to the film, and perhaps not.

I hope he will have a different memory of his first Christmas in Portelas. At his school they have a garden, where the children grow whatever it is they grow. We are constructing a vegetable patch in our garden. This is not meant to be a serious attempt to feed our family. It is intended to fire a 7-year-old’s imagination.

This is a photo from when the work started.

Our vegetable patch is on schedule to open on Christmas Day.

Feliz Natal!


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