CHEF CONCIERGE • October 2019
Award-winning chef Dieter Koschina has held two Michelin stars at picturesque Atlantic coast restaurant Vila Joya in Albufeira for two decades. Here the Austrian-born chef reveals his favourite gastronomic spots on Portugal’s southernmost tip, the haven he now calls home
You can’t beat fresh seafood fished from the Atlantic, but, if you want to eat something very special, order oysters that have come from Ria Formosa lagoon, or pulpo (octopus) from Santa Luzia. If, for breakfast, you want to do as the locals do, then grab a bica (a local take on an espresso) and a pastel de nata (pictured below), which you can find all day long around every corner.
Olive oil is one of my favourite souvenirs, and Monterosa Extra Virgin Olive Oil is one of the best. It’s made in the Algarve around 45 minutes from Vila Joya. We serve the Cobrançosa version in the restaurant with homemade bread. The olive harvest starts at the end of September and runs until the end of October. If you’re interested in learning more about how olive oil is made, visit the artisan producer in Moncarapacho, where the owner will guide you around his olive groves, which have existed since Roman times.
I probably shouldn’t mention my own restaurant, but if you seriously think she or he is the one, then take them to Vila Joya. Our terrace overlooking the gardens and sea (pictured below) is surely the most romantic setting in Portugal. Alternatively, grab a bottle of my favourite Champagne, Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé – or if you prefer a red then have a Syrah from Quinta do Monte D’Oiro from the Lisboa region – and enjoy a beautiful sunset at Ponta da Piedade. There is nothing else you need.
Visit Restaurante Carlos in the dunes of Praia dos Salgados beach – it’s a traditional place with honest food, great fish and excellent sea views. This is especially true in October, when the colours of the dunes and sunsets are amazing.
The wonderful food markets in Loule and Olhao are worth a visit and housed in two impressive buildings – in fact, the enormous red-brick building in Olhao was designed by Gustav Eiffel. Don’t miss the Saturday market, it’s the most interesting fish market on the Algarve, while Loule is also beautiful, and great for locally grown fruit and vegetables.
If you’re staying around Albufeira or Guia, then piri-piri chicken is the dish to order. I sometimes take our regular guests to Restaurante Teodosio – it’s simple, but the food is delicious. Order chicken, fries, tomato salad and a Sagres beer and you’re set for the perfect evening.