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Market Day

Market Day

A taste of the Algarve: Inside magazine visits Portimão’s Municipal Market

Everyone should visit one of the Algarve’s fresh food markets at least once during their time here. Providing local produce, from fresh fruit and vegetables to fish caught that same morning, the local markets have a fantastic atmosphere and are as authentic as you can get. Quarteira and Armação de Pêra, for example, have long been considered two of the best markets in the region, but since moving to a brand new building in 2007, the Mercado Municipal de Portimão has slowly been raising its game.

With a lack of functionality, it was considered that the old market hindered traders’ ability to properly present their products and compete in a market that’s been struggling for some time now. So Portimão City Hall and SIMAB, a public capital company, decided to build a brand new market, a modern market that would keep up with the times and comply with the new food hygiene and safety requirements. Completed in 2007, the building on Avenida São João de Deus (near the fire station and cemetery) was designed to boost local trade and make it more attractive for consumers, and recently extended its opening hours to provide all-day trading (go in the morning to gain the full experience).

Turning right from the entrance, visitors are welcomed by a medley of colours provided by the various stalls of flowers and fruit and veg that come in all shapes and sizes. Horta em Flor Duas Irmãs has been selling both for nearly 15 years. Sisters Lucilia and Natalia started trading at the old market, sharing a stall selling both flowers and fruit and vegetables grown in their vegetable garden. But since moving to the new market, they have separated the two sides of the business. “We wanted to make ourselves better known,” says Lucilia, who sells eye-catching flowers such as roses, daisies, lilies and a beautiful array of orchids.

There are a number of fruit and vegetable stalls throughout this section, but adding something a bit different to the selection is Sabores da Nossa Terra. Selling only olive oil at the beginning, Nuno Gomes and his wife soon expanded into other areas, selecting only the highest quality products south of the Tejo. Now, at their stall in Portimão market, they offer gourmet products like preserves from Olhão, jam from Tavira and the best Serpa cheese from the Alentejo, alongside many olive oils, aromatic herbs and the best quality wines, including the Herdade dos Grous label, produced at the sister wine estate of Vila Vita Parc in the Alentejo. Proving especially popular at the moment is the flor de sal with herbs, with a group of tourists recently visiting the market purposely after hearing about it, says Nuno. “We choose our products very carefully and always keep an eye out for anything new.”

Not to be missed is the Helisiq stall which, although may not suit all palates, has been providing snails of all sizes for some 20 years. Now in season, the Portuguese boil them with herbs and garlic.

Further on, a delicatessen displays cheeses, the Portuguese enchidos and a number of other products, whilst the butchers offer all sorts of meats available in different cuts. Talho Jorge Dâmaso is a family business that has been running for 20 years and who generously offered our photographer some huge bones for her dog, whilst Alves & Águas has an interesting selection of prepared meats that are perfect for the barbecue. Alongside marinated quail, chicken wings and sausages, there are also special weekly promotions and essentials like water, olive oil and different sauces.

But the true spirit of the market is in the fish section, a hub of activity based around the freshest caught fish. All different types of seafood are available here, from the traditional but unusual-looking perceves (goose barnacles) to monkfish, dogfish, John Dory, conger eels and so on.
Claiming to often have 33 varieties is Da Fish, run by Ricardo Santos. Selling hake, snapper, dogfish and many other types of fish, it’s the sardines, the mackerel and the cuttlefish that remain the most popular, even with foreigners. “The later opening hours are a great help,” says the young owner. “If we can’t sell the fresh fish that morning, then we can sell it in the afternoon or evening.”

Saving the best for last, in the opinion of some, the cake and bakery section is a real treat for those searching for homemade sweets. Maria Inácio Martins and her sister make all the cakes on display at her stall. Specialising in traditional Algarvean sweets, Maria sells homemade biscuits and cakes, including the typical almond tart, orange tart and the carob tart, which will no doubt convert non-believers of the humble carob. “Foreigners like to buy sweets that are native to the Algarve,” believes Maria, who recently received a large order from a group of tourists for her delicious sweet treats.

And if it’s freshly baked bread you’re looking for, the Empresa Panificadora Portimonense has been baking since 1956. Amongst the plain bread, wholemeal or cereal bread available, there is also a selection of cakes to pick up as you’re leaving.

Open Monday to Friday from 7am to 2pm and 5pm to 8pm.
Saturday from 7am to 2pm.
A list of the market traders is available at
www.mercadodeportimao.pt | Tel: 282 432 416