Fernando Melo, 56, has a degree in Technological Physics Engineering from the Instituto Superior Técnico (Higher Technical Institute) (1988), and has been a wine and food critic since 1995. He is a permanent contributor to the monthly magazine Vinho Grandes Escolhas, the weekly magazine Evasões and the newspapers Jornal de Notícias and Diário de Notícias. He regularly participates in national and international juries of wine, olive oil and traditional products competitions. He is co-author of the Restaurants of Portugal Guide and devotes much of his time to undergraduate and post-graduate training at higher education institutions in the areas of oenogastronomy, catering, food history and regional products.
A gastronomic adventure in the Algarve
I had the privilege of getting to know the Algarve early on, first with my family during holiday periods, and from the age of 17 by myself and in the company of friends.
It was at this stage that I had the privilege of seeing and feeling it more closely. The beach resorts that were open all year round were the meeting points of the locals, as well as places of excellence in seafood, fish and ancestral recipes.
The extreme beauty of the windward and leeward beaches in the off-season. Direct contact with the fish markets, fishermen and cooks and, through so many of whom I became lifelong friends, the founding nature of Algarve cuisine in all our regional gastronomies.
There have been veritable quantum leaps in my Algarve history, and I have no hesitation in choosing the discovery of the fabulous Barrocal as the most extraordinary of all those I hold dear to my heart.
There are countless dishes of sea-land fusion that we owe to the prodigious interface between the sea and the mountains. I became a fan of broths and soups, which are entirely simple in origin but so intense in flavour. And it didn’t take long for me to surrender to the charm and excellence of what the sea gives every day and which, in homes, turns into gold every day. More recently, I have intensified the recipe survey around the cataplana and it continues to be one of the most relevant focal points in my gastronomic adventure in the Algarve.
The local sweets are also remarkable and it’s a track I want to explore in more depth. And the excellence of the wines, which are once again in the limelight, as if animated by an immanent telluric force of which we should all become attentive spectators. A subject for a lifetime.