Comida Deliciosa em O Arco da Velha ♥

Delicious food at the Restaurante O Arco da Velha in Alvor … never a truer word spoken … or written as the case may be.  If you have never visited this little gem of a town in the Algarve, Portugal, well then you are seriously missing out.  It’s a small fishing town with it’s own harbour and it is gorgeous both by day and by night.  And if you have never eaten in this wonderful restaurant… consider your life incomplete and unfulfilled!  They are couple and family friendly too!

As you approach the restaurant, you are greeted the welcoming, friendly, mustachioed Ricardo – the Owner who also works magic at the Grill all evening (and Oh how I mean that!!!).  He always wears a big smile and it’s his sincerity that comes through in his manners to all the customer that makes you want to give him a big hug.  OK… I think it’s clear that I like Ricardo  🙂  He is part of an amazing team of course – his lovely wife Josephine works in the kitchen inside and they run a system like clockwork.  And the food… Oh My Oh My Oh My THE FOOD!!!! I have only just returned from Alvor and I am already having withdrawal… the food is simply prepared, simply served and simply…divine.  There is also the handsome and charming Marco, who manages the Restaurant and service which is always excellent.  The fact that their clientele consists of locals and tourists – mostly repeat customers – returning for the food and the welcome they receive each visit speaks for itself – just check out the reviews on TripAdvisor!  It’s not just me!!

Fresh local fish is key to the menu in O Arco da Velha – Seabass, Stonebass, Seabream, Red Mullet, Squid, Prawns… whatever has been caught fresh will be on the menu.  As I said the key here is simplicity – with these kinds of treasures available what else could squid.jpgyou do.  However, don’t mistake simplicity for easy. The skilled staff are amazing at what they do.  From Ricardo ♥ on the grill cooking each different piece of fish to perfection or meat separately on the meat grill, to Josephine in the kitchen with other staff cooking vegetables to perfection, creating delicious salad, preparing starters such as baby squid in garlic and chilli oil (Oh My God…these are so completely YUMMY!!!), Prawns in garlic oil (also Delicious!) to various other delicious options.  Or you can opt for Covers which include carrots in garlic, olives, sardine and tuna pate (both gorgeous) , local cheese (really tasty) with crusty bread… I’ve probably tasted most of the menu by now and there’s nothing I haven’t liked yet!

Mains also include meat dishes such as steak, chicken and lamb (which many of my extended family members have sampled to their great delight) or rice dishes such as Cataplana.  I always go for the fresh fish though – it’s so good here there’s really no other choice for me.  You make your fish choice from the fresh selection of the day and your fish will be shown to you so you can see it’s freshness and beauty.  Then it is delivered to Ricardo ♥ to work his magic!  The flavour when it comes off the grill is so moreish and it is served with big wedges of lemon – I am seriously making myself so hungry as I type this!! It also comes with garlic butter – the real thing with chunks of garlic for you garlic-lovers out there!!  Each fish is expertly de-boned by Marco or one of his staff before serving to your table.  The choice of sides are rice, potatoes, chips and vegetables or salad from the kitchen – always fresh and always delicious.  Desserts range from Strawberries and cream to icecreams to Tiramisu (Scrumptious!) to more traditional Portuguese delicacies such as Almond tart (Oh So Yummy!).

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Chamine

They have a great selection of wines to choose from but I’m going to share our favourite with you – a deliciously, fruity and flavourful red called Chaminè.  Marco will make recommendations depending on your taste, if you wish, but he knows this is our go to tipple 🙂  And of course, you should give the Green Wine a try while in Portugal – crisp, fresh, ice cold – it’s a refreshing alternative to white for a change.

At the end of the meal, it’s not all bad news either… along with the very reasonable bill comes complimentary port for all the adults… never though I would be a Port person but I am!! It’s yummy!

And so… we always leave with satisfied bellies and smiles on our happy faces…

 

You can’t really knock that now… can you?

Get yourself to Portugal… to Alvor… you won’t regret it!

 

Note: Photos all my own with the exception of the Restaurant front which is from O Arco Da Velha’s Facebook page @RestauranteOArcoDaVelha

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Running to Stand Still…

“…And so she woke up

Woke up from where she was lyin’ still.

Said I gotta do something

About where we’re goin’…”

(Running to Stand Still by U2)

Like them or loath them, U2 are one of the most successful bands in the world and for me, this has always been one of my favourite U2 songs.  From way before I was consciously feminist and vocal, the words of this song spoke to struggles, wars and heartaches I had going on deep inside my teenage self and beyond.  Now… they speak to me as a woman in a much wider universal struggle.  Now these words describe the perilous existence and the perceptible non-existence of women across this globe.   These words describe the resilience of women…and isn’t it bloody well that we have resilience since we have been having the same conversations, asking the same questions, beating the same drums generation after generation after generation.  When does it end?

I have to ask myself a question so often these days…

WHAT THE ABSOLUTE FUCK??? 

We have a vulnerable woman living with mental illness who is manipulated and mocked by those supposed to protect #RIPDaraQuigley you sweet soul … We have the women of Ireland continuing to be treated as second class citizens in their own country through the lack of autonomy, respect and control over their own bodies #Repealthe8th …

We have sentences being handed down for sexual offences against women and children and men that range from suspended sentences to six months to 12 years – what is going on with our judicial system??? Where is the consistency???  It does not matter that it is a first offence, or that the offence will effect the perpetrator’s future prospects, or that the victim had 5 alcoholic drinks – the person responsible for the crime is the attacker.  The message must be made clear that sexual assault and rape will not be tolerated in our society and the sentencing for these crimes must support this CONSISTENTLY.

We have the shameful and disgraceful legacy of Church and State Mother and Baby homes all over this country where, we all know, there are most likely more horror stories like Tuam awaiting discovery #TuamBabies And the leaders of our country, the politicans we elected and ourselves…we, the citizens of this State, continue to dishonour those children and their mothers by demanding that every single child and mother is accounted for and afforded a peaceful, dignified and deserving resting place…

And those are a mere few examples.

 

 ” …You gotta cry without weeping,

talk without speaking

Scream without raising your voice… “

(Running to Stand Still by U2)

There have been times in my life when I have wondered what it’s truly like to be a man.  I’ve thought lots of things…like does having a penis actually make you more powerful? Or is it just the fact that you go around stabbing people with it that gives you some sort of elevated sense of self worth?  (Generalisation and choice of words here could be debated but you get my point)  Why did men get to have a penis instead of women?  Why do men seem to be in charge most of the time?  Why does it seem like men, white middle aged men in fact, control EVERYTHING?  Why couldn’t I have an opinion as a teenager without being called a bitch, bossy, fat cow (I am on the curvy spectrum but what the fuck has that got to do with it?), fat stupid bitch, know-it-all, whatever – your opinion doesn’t matter anyway?  There was never the same extent of disdain for boys and their opinions…that baffled me.  Why is it such a problem to hear a woman’s voice?  To see a woman’s body?  To acknowledge women’s autonomy and power in this world?

Fucked if I know!!

(I have an idea actually … privilege … but that’s a whole other box of frogs!!)

Mansplainer…

I recently had an kinda funny though sadly familiar encounter. While out one evening, I met a friend of a friend who felt it was their opportunity, Nay! their duty to open my eyes to the futility of feminism and the fact that it was a dead ideal in today’s society.  Now at this stage in my life, I can spot a Mansplainer a mile away and I am well used to the arguments and reasoning served up to ‘educate and enlighten’ me on my ‘disillusioned lost road’.  I’m not a feminist to argue with anyone, I’m a feminist because I believe in balance.  I’m a feminist because I believe in equality in opportunities and life for all genders, all ages, all creeds.  There is no argument that can sway me from these beliefs.

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So, as the discussion or banter progressed, the usual arguments came forth – the Constitution doesn’t effect us regular people on the ground,  Women are treated equally now – feminism as a movement is dead and gone…  the Brogressive attitude became the forerunner for a while but it was pushed back a bit by the ‘You’re not doing yourself any favours’ bit.  I have to admit I found myself rising to the argument slightly then I thought to myself…what the hell am I doing?  This isn’t an exchange of ideas here… I am being told what I should be thinking and there’s no opening for discussion.  So I smiled a little, I re-iterated again and again that I didn’t agree and smiled again at the gleeful cry with clapping hands ‘I love a good argument!’.

One thing that was said struck me, however, I was asked which person was more valuable to society – Bill Gates or the person sitting in front of me?  My answer was both are of equal value and I truly believe that.  He felt he had triumphed in this perceived failure on my part ‘No…not at all… Bill Gates is more valuable because of his wealth and influence…I don’t have those.  I see things as they truly are’

I would argue that his view is clouded by perceptions of value based on material value and what comes with it.  No matter the roles we play in life, professionallly or personally, we are all just people at the end of the day.  And until we learn to value each and every person for the human being they are, there will be no balance.

balance

Brasserie Sixty6 … You little Minx!

This is a restaurant on South Great Georges Street in Dublin 2 that I have been wanting to visit for the longest time (one on my very long list!) and on Tuesday evening, I finally got there!

From entering the establishment, the lighting is subtle and warm and the atmosphere has an audible hum of chat and laughter that doesn’t offend the ears…quite the opposite in fact…it draws you in.  We were met by a friendly and smiley host who found our reservation in moments and brought us to an area where we had a choice of seats.  Seated happily, he pointed out the Cocktail menu, gave us the A La Carte menu and also the Pre Theatre menu.  Of course, very importantly, he provided us with the wine list… and oh what a list it is!  My friend and I decided to go with the Pre-Theatre menu which is excellent value at just €27.95 for three courses.  This is available ALL night from Sunday to Wednesday & until 6.30pm on Thursdays to Saturday and lunchtime too on request.  There are excellent choices too with five starters, five mains and four desserts to choose from. Ohhhh the dilemma of what to choose… it took me a little while, I can tell you!  A really lovely waitress came and brought us water and some yummy grained bread and butter.  We chose from the extensive wine list the Finca Museum Vinea Crianza, Tinta del Pais (Tempranillo) (Cigales, Spain 2011) as we both really enjoy red – it was quite exquisite.

I finally decided on Wild Mushroom Soup with parmesan, truffle oil and pickled enoki to start – it was absolutely delicious.  We both had the same.  It tasted purely of Wild mushroom, which I know is stating the obvious, but too often that is not what a soup ends up tasting of…what it’s supposed to be!  The garnishes only added to the flavour and did not overpower the natural earthiness of the dish at all.

For main, I ordered the chargrilled 6oz Sirloin of beef with bearnaise sauce, crisp watercress salad, thick cut fries and pesto rolled greens at a €5 supplement but let me add that it was worth every cent.  My request for medium steak was noted, delivered and it was the perfect size to enjoy without feeling overstuffed; especially after having had soup to start.  My friend had ordered the same but well done and was very happy with the quality of the food.

And dessert…well…this is where things might get a little…hot under the collar!!!  My friend order the Peanut Butter Mousse with chocolate sauce and chocolate ice cream and I won’t lie… it was fabulously decadent.  There was lots of sighing and Mmmm-ing going on at the table.  But the pièce de résistance for me was the Pecan Pie with creme anglaise and chocolate ice cream…I quite literally had a Sweet Pie-gasm in my seat!!! It was lusciously gratifying with the crunch of pecan against the buttery, syrupy filling and the crumble of the sweet pastry.  Even thinking about it now, I am weak with desire!!!

Ahem…anyhoooo… the staff were at all times attentive yet unobtrusive and the background music just loud enough to keep other conversations, and our own, private – exactly what you want really.  I apologise for the lack of photo evidence but everything was eaten by the time I remembered to take any photos! 🙂

My only negative is that though the toilets were clean to the eye, the odour left much to be desired.  That’s a problem very easily fixed though but worth mentioning all the same.

Thank you very much Brasserie Sixy6 for a thoroughly enjoyable evening.  I really, really liked this place and I will, most definitely, be revisiting.

 

 

Take me to the Island…

….because it’s so damn beautiful here.  I spent a week on Inis Oirr, the smallest of the 20160703_135314 Aran Islands off the coast of Galway in the West of Ireland at the beginning of July.  Let me tell you, without doubt, it is one of the most wonderful places on this earth.  If you haven’t been – you must visit.  If you have been – then you know exactly what I’m talking about.  I was there with my two boys, Jack and Daniel (and before you ask, it wasn’t a deliberate decision to name them after my favourite bourbon…Cross my heart!! 😉 ) and we were sharing a house with a friend and her daughter.

So I go to Inis Oirr really because of my Spiritual Guru – my dearest friend Paula; who moved Facebook-20160705-123950 (2)here from Dublin to marry an Islander Paidraic.  What a change in life?  Yes indeed but she loves it!!  They have three beautiful children and she absolutely loves living on the Island.  Paula is like my Earth Mama… she bakes beautiful cakes and breads, she cooks sensational food and she is a Reiki Practitioner. She also writes from her soul (Blog @donkeyshindlegs check her out or you’re seriously missing out).  Don’t get me wrong – she gets frustrated and pissed off like any of the rest of us.  And I know there are times when having three kids and a very Quiet Man must be exhausting and exasperating but she has found her Zen.  She is the most wonderful, caring and patient Woman though (I know you’re going to read this Paula so just a reminder…you’re the whole package!!) and…she is my wonderful, sexy, beautiful BFITWWU!

20160703_135541The Island itself is a thing to behold…rugged beauty hewn from rock and etched in luscious greens and smoked silver greys.  The island is around 3km x 3km with rolling hills (that sometimes feel like Croagh Patrick but they are so far from it, in truth!!) and really, it’s easily covered by foot or by bike (a word of caution if cycling however, the hills, though small are steep and can be a recipe for disaster for children on bikes even with helmets – I’ve witnessed numerous visits from the Air Ambulance helicopter!).  Taking a stroll around to the lighthouse or out to the shipwreck of the Plassy (seen on the intro to the wonderful Father Ted) lets you see Inis Oirr in all it’s diversity come alive.  The uniquely built walls hugging the narrow roads leading past Aras Eanna – the Arts Centre on the Island (another must see) takes you through the Island around small high walled fields with perhaps one or two cattle with calves within.  And the sunsets… Sweet Mother of Divine!!  They are to die for!  The colours are exceptional and on a clear day, I really mean it, you can can see forever across the golden lit sea.

There are a number of places to eat on Inis Oirr too… all of them of great quality and ooohhh so tasty!  My favourite has to be ‘Teach an Tae’ – a cafe run by the loveliest woman Alissa and her husband Michael. I cannot visit the Island without at least one visit (per day) to this delectable establishment.  The lunches are delicious and the cakes are without comparison…OH MY SWEET HEAVEN!!! Everything I have tasted has been scrumptious though one of my front runners has to be the Carrot Cake…soft, sweet, spiced, luscious

 

and topped with dreamy, creamy frosting.  I wonder do they do postal orders??? lol  While there with Jack and Daniel, I had the Island Tart – a savoury tart of baby potatoes, herbs, eggs and feta or goats cheese – YUM!  Jack had the Fish of the day – fresh caught Pollock and Daniel had Potato and Leek soup – everything freshly made on the premises.  I had Lemon Poppy Seed cake with vanilla ice cream – Lush!  The boys had brownies and I didn’t even get a chance to get a photo!! lol  The Staff are soooooooo lovely too… I just can’t say enough nice things about this place… it’s a must if you’re on Inis Oirr.  Rory’s is gorgeous too and the Hotel and Tigh Ned’s do lovely food… to be honest – I haven’t had a bad meal anywhere!

We visited Aran Seaweed Baths & Spa and were looked after by the wonderful Annette and it was so wonderful.  She is the most attentive, lovely and, I might add, patient lady having to deal with three children in one go!!  We all had a seaweed bath and it was to die for!!  I would highly recommend it for de-stressing and your skin  is left so soft… I want to go again!  If you want some pampering then Annette is the answer!

 

Finally, there is the secret beach… which for obvious reasons I can’t tell you where it is… but let’s face it … the Island is 3km x 3km so you wouldn’t have a hard time finding it! lol It’s a place of zoning out and disconnection and it’s perfect.  And Spike – Paula’s dog – well… he just loves it there… he’ll spend a whole day at the beach, eating rocks (no… he has no teeth left!), chasing waves and then he’ll flake on the couch for 24 hours!!! He’s got the right idea!!

 

Don’t wait… visit Inis Oirr… you won’t regret it!

 

 

 

See…the problem is that God gave Man both a penis…and a brain…

…and only enough blood supply to work one at a time!

The Late, Great Robin Williams

(Possibly not the exact wording but the exact idea)

Now, I’m not exactly sure which one is in the driving seat when it comes to the subject of Pro-Choice.  I know for a fact that there are men out there who believe in Women’s autonomy and intelligence in general but once we enter the Twilight Zone of fertility, reproduction, fetus and potential babies – the Neanderthal button gets switched on for some and suddenly it’s all thumping their chests and grunting “Me know better… Me Man… Me STRONG!!! Girl STUPID!!!  Me Decide”  Note:  Many of these are suited and politically inclined.  Ahem…Well let’s get something very clear …

I am woman

Across this Island of ours, we have a virulent ongoing debate that stirs every persons blood.  Everyone has their opinion.  And that is everyone’s right.  However, when it comes to dictating to others what choices they should make, it becomes another issue entirely.  I have been trying to think of a comparative example for men but it’s not possible so this is an example to demonstrate a point… bear with me boys!

Imagine the 8th Amendment was about the protection of sperm… given that without it, life cannot be created.  And through the 8th Amendment; masturbation was made illegal – well… it does waste those poor life giving swimmers now doesn’t it.  It’s not the same for women, they can masturbate all they like because nothing get’s wasted in their practice! Score!!!  So pleasuring yourself becomes an openly criminal act.  A quick hand shandy is no longer tolerated because you don’t know who you can trust to keep your secret.  And don’t even think about getting around the legislation by getting your friends to do your hand washing for you… by virtue of the fact that wasting sperm is illegal under the 8th Amendment – accomplices to the fact can be charged along with you.  Don’t worry, if you get desperate enough, if you feel that you can’t live without charming the one-eyed snake, you can put your case forward to a panel of medical practitioners (including two psychiatrists) who will decide if you’re actually desperate enough to be justified in having a wank.  If not… it’s the Male Chastity Belt for you for the next 9 months … or until all your sexual urges have dissipated… sound fun!?!?   I didn’t think so.

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You can say that this doesn’t relate… that it’s not the same… that I should stop being ridiculous.  I’m not saying it’s the exact same because there is nothing the exact same.  Just consider the effect of your autonomy being taken from you.  Think about it.

#Repealthe8th

Catch more flies with Honey…

I am compelled by the heaviness in my heart today to write this post.  Another day with lives lost to senseless terrorism disguised in a commitment to a blind faith or dedication to a cause promising adulation by virginal maidens on the sacrifice made.  I am making the assumption that this vile act of hate will be claimed by ISIS or another linked group and If I am wrong then I will stand corrected.  However, we, as a global community are becoming accustomed to the fact that these devastating atrocities trace back to these extremists and their unconscionable desire to kill and maim in the name of their cause.  And please remember, their cause is not Islam – their cause is not about any true belief for the betterment of any group.  Their cause is power, violence, greed and chaos.  Their power is pain.

I’ve sat here all day with this running through the back of my mind and I’ve thought about what I can do to combat this… What can I do from my desk here in Dublin?  or my home in Meath?  or my blog online?  And the only answer I consistently come up with is… You catch more flies with Honey than Vinegar!  If you sIMSPON GROUP HUGfeed Darkness with Darkness… it only grows… however if you introduce light, however small, that darkness gives – even by a trace.  The only way to oppose such blatant hatred is to display blatant unity and love.  Now, don’t switch off on me and think ‘Jaysus!! She’s gone all airy fairy – I’m off!!’.  I always think about things in terms of balance… Negativity is hugely prevalent on a global scale through fear and sadness and anger right now and for some time with the element of terrorism that has been growing.  These are emotions we must all feel and deal with – we can’t avoid that.  We cannot allow them to turn into retaliation and hate however, because then we feed the beast.  One way to counteract the destructive aftermath is to reach out to our fellow global citizens in solidarity and peace and support each other in any way we can in the face of this adversity.  There is massive emotional and integral strength in unity and support and this, IMHO, is the key in our mental survival going forward.

SPREAD THE LOVE! 

vIRTUAL HUG

For those of us that missed the 60’s … now’s our chance to re-engage the Free Love ideal (though I’m not personally endorsing going beyond hugging OK… virtual or otherwise!! lol)  Don’t feel helpless or defeated by events that happen in other countries – we can all make a difference by treating those around us and the people we meet everyday with humanity and respect.  To rephrase someone else and some other time… Everyone – no matter who you are – Everyone can make a difference.

 

Lots of Love and Hugs…. Helena x