Flavours of Portugal Olhão

“A life without cheese is no life at all”

If you agree and are lucky enough to be in the Algarve, then go and say hi to Elisabete of Charcutaria Formosa in Olhão's daily market.

One of our favourite ‘shops’ in Olhão daily market is Charcutaria Formosa owned by Elisabete. Elisabete MartinsShe’ll be celebrating her two year anniversary here in November, having moved her business in 2014 from her home town of Tavira. Tavira’s loss is definitely Olhão’s gain, as this is an excellent delicatessen. Elisabete is lovely, very knowledgeable about her products and also very tolerant of our limited Portuguese. She of course speaks excellent English and French. Her husband also speaks French, and he’s next door at Talhos Formosa. Talho means Butcher in English, and Talhos Formosa has been here in Olhão market for 10 years.

Elisabete of Charcutaria FormosaThe market is doing well, and the increase in tourists is certainly helping local businesses such as Charcutaria Formosa. However unfortunately not all tourists support the local businesses. I was dismayed to watch the behaviour of a group on a guided tour of the market when Elisabete and I were chatting. They were all happy to photograph and point things out, but none of them stopped to buy anything from anyone. Apparently it unusual for guided tour groups to stop long enough to purchase what catches their eye. Personally I can’t see the point of going around a food market unless you buy!

Not sure what first caught our eye in Elisabete’s delicatessen, possibly her excellent range of cheeses or it could have been the ham  – Jamón ibéricoJamón de Cebo de Campo Ibérico produced by Union Alosnera. Jamón de Cebo de Campo IbéricoThis ham is from Iberian Pigs which roam freely in woodlands and pastures in the Spanish hills. It has a unique taste because of the acorns that the pigs are fed in the latter part of their lives. A good ibérico ham will have been cured for up to 3 years and has regular flecks of intramuscular fat – the marbling effect is a positive thing. I was amazed to learn from Elisabete that sometimes a shoulder doesn’t last the week. My amazement is solely due to the price as this ham is 55€ per kg, and this is only a medium grade of Jamón ibérico. The highest grade is Jamón Ibérico de Bellota which can cost closer to 100€ per kg.

QueijaHer best sellers however are the traditional small cheeses, and if you are staying here a week or so we’d certainly recommend buying five as that way you get to sample a range of traditional cheeses for just 5€. There are also the fresh cheeses, soft like cottage cheese and often served with honey.

AmanteigadaOne of Elisabete’s favourite cheeses is Amanteigado, this is an incredibly buttery sheep cheese from Seia. As with most Portuguese cheeses it is handmade. The curds of the Amanteigado are set using thistle flowers, and when ripe this cheese oozes. Perfect for dunking your bread in after you have sliced off the top! Award winning queijo de ovelha curadoAnother favourite of Elisabete’s is the award winning cured sheep cheese made by Eira da Vila in the Serpa region of Portugal. Again very buttery in texture, and when ripe oozes like a Camembert across your plate.

As well as cheese and ham Elisabete sells jams, chouriço, bacon, sheep’s butter and folar, an Olhão speciality. Folar as regular readers will recall from my post a few weeks ago is a favourite of mine. chouriçoWe also really like chouriço. Most English of course where they hear the word immediately think of chorizo, the Spanish version. However this sausage originates from whole of the Iberian Peninsular, and so it is as much Portuguese as it is Spanish.

Established November 2014As we return shortly to England for the summer I’m already anticipating how much I am going to miss Charcutaria Formosa and everything else in  the wonderful Olhão markets. I better go and eat lots of Portuguese cheese right now to help mitigate the loss, but not before I say thank you again to Elisabete for her time and help in preparing this post. Any mistakes are mine. Oh and my title I borrowed that from Howard Jacobson of The Independent, hope he doesn’t mind!

19 comments on ““A life without cheese is no life at all”

  1. Pingback: This little piggy . . . . . . | It caught my eye in Portugal

  2. Pingback: ‘A lame goat does not take a siesta’ | It caught my eye in Portugal

  3. What a scrumptious post! Definitely the best way to buy your food and support local business at the same time. Tour groups are tricky, especially if they’re travelling on a coach with no cool storage facilities; they probably don’t get free time to wander on their own either. Perhaps some of the stallholders could contact a tour group and arrange for them to have a scheduled tasting session at their ‘shops’? That way they’d stop and maybe even buy!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so so much.
      You’re much more sympathetic than I am of them! That’s a really good idea though – might mention it to her and also Silvia who has a stall in the farmer’s market. Thanks again

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  4. I’m rather too fond of cheese – these sound great, especially the one you can dunk your bread in!

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    • Think most of us are 😊 It’s deliciously creamy but quite strong so fortunately that seems to moderate our consumption!

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  5. Me encanta, gracias una vez más!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Well you have tourists, that are just travelling for the bragging rights, and the you have tourists who does it for the experience . I love love love the specialty shops! If I am at a market where there are many of those shops, I will make a complete round to see what is there, before I go back to the ones that tickled my fancy and buy some. Oh did this post put me in the mood for some tapas with cheese and ham and olives and patatas bravas and chopitos and and and…? You bet!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh that’s so true – never thought of it that way before.
      Hope you have a tapas today! I’ve already raided the fridge and so will need to go and see Elisabete later 😊

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  7. I’m making the huge mistake of reading this before breakfast. I want cheese NOW! Had a lovely day yesterday. Hope you enjoyed a walk? Safe journey home if we don’t speak before xxx

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    • Hee hee!! Cheese for breakfast is good 😊
      So pleased you had a lovely day yesterday, we pottered about rather than a long walk but hopefully today will stretch our legs a bit more. How about you?

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      • We did Quatro Aguas out to Barril and walked back via S.Luzia. Seemed like a long way! Rewarded ourselves with Mertola today. Sending love xx

        Liked by 1 person

        • Wonderful – love Mertola. Have they finished the work on the bridge?
          We walked Boa Vista yesterday and today must pack! Hope it drys up by 9:30 for you x

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        • Not looking promising is it? Bridge almost complete. The excavation at the castle looks exciting. Safe journey home xxx

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  8. Oh wow, how could anyone resist this place?! It looks like heaven… Especially the jamón Ibérico! Yum!

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    • I know!! We always get carried away and have to avoid that end of the market when we still have cheese and jámon in the fridge as otherwise we buy even more 😉

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  9. Yes, how rude. I do craft fairs and the odd coach party come in, and walk around without making eye contact, because god forbid one of us might speak to them!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh that’s even worse. I think it’s partly group mentality – no one will unless one starts 😕

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