This copper pan is a great memento that will bring back memories as it helps recreate some of the amazing seafood recipes from the Algarve. These clam-shaped pans evenly cook food under low heat, and the side latches to help keep moisture inside so that the food is also steam cooked. This culinary device may be a bit bulky to bring home (especially on an airplane), but it’s well worth the effort.
Nearly every beach town sells seaside jewelry, and the Algarve is no different. Shell-inspired necklaces, earrings, and even bracelets or anklets are unique souvenirs that can be worn every day, and they make great gifts too.
Few things are more Portuguese than chouriço grilled over a flame lit by alcohol, specifically aguardente (which gets its name from “fiery water”). Assador means “spit” in English, as in rotisserie spit, and barro is the Portuguese word for mud—in this case, mud made from clay. Combine the two and voilà, a unique clay dish that works as a grill for sausages. Sure, you could use a regular grill to cook chouriço, but where is the fun in that?
What about bringing home a little spirit? While this is not the aguardente normally used in an assador de barro, it is a similar spirit, classified close to brandy. Medronho or Aguardente de Medronho is made from medronho berries grown on strawberry trees, found in the center of Algarve and Alentejo. You can purchase these very strong drinks from farmers and anyone else who harvests medronho berries for medronho liquor, and they are drunk in small doses, usually sipped out of shot glasses.
No matter where you visit in Portugal, piri piri is a good keepsake to remind you of your time and delicious dining experience. Algarve is also no stranger to this spicy, chili pepper sauce that makes special appearances in many dishes, especially the famous frango assado, or piri piri chicken.
Like the cataplana pan, a ceramic may be heavy and awkward to bring home, but the effort is worth considering as these souvenirs will remind you of the beautiful pottery that pops up all over the region, especially in some inland towns like Loulé. Pitchers, bowls, platters, plates and many other items, including home decorations, are easy to find and not always expensive to buy.
Azulejos are another souvenir that will remind anyone of their Portuguese vacation, as these ceramic tiles hold a special place in Portuguese culture. Azulejos adorn homes, restaurants, street signs, and public buildings, and souvenir shops sell tiles of all sizes.
Portugal is the largest cork producer in the world, and souvenirs shops are full of cork-made products, from purses and smaller coin purses to jewelry and even shoes. One of the most popular cork routes, through the Serra do Caldeirão, is also in Algarve, about 20 miles northeast of Faro.
Nearly every Portuguese recipe uses olive oil, and you can find some delicious varieties in Algarve, especially in the east near southwest Spain. Try it on salads with vinegar for a simple dressing, use it to flavor boiled potatoes, or add it on top of fish or meat for a true Mediterranean touch (even though Portugal is technically not Mediterranean).