It’s always fun trying new things, and having just returned from Portugal on this year’s family jaunt to the Algarve we’ve managed just that.
The small fishing village of Bergau is 50 minutes west of Faro (thankfully on the Easy Jet route from Bristol) and is all that a small fishing village should be – pretty unspoilt over the years and a great place to jump into various local seafood specialities.
We’d been to the No 8 tapas bar in previous years, we were well acquainted with their Octopus dishes and the flaming Portuguese black pudding but they always have ‘specials’. This year we were told that as it had just been the full moon they had a new crop of percebes – goose neck barnacles that were only fished for at full moon – and a famed local delicacy.
It all sounded a bit romantic - or perhaps a story thought up to market the Tapas bar - but by all accounts it’s the fact that the sea is normally calm and the divers can see better under the full moon.
Never wanting to miss a new experience we had a bowl of percebes as a starter – they look like claws, and did beg the immediate question ‘can you actually eat these?’ – our host then proceeded to show us the way – you break the claw off and you eat the root of the barnacle. These are boiled and in effect ‘sealed’ so the taste of the sea is intense. I could see what the fuss was about – good fun, different and within seconds and experience not to be forgotten.
You can buy these oddities in the UK at big Fish Markets I subsequently learnt (http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2012/oct/08/wild-goose-barnacle-chase) but I think really you need to be by the sea from where they were gathered – and the full moon somehow does play it’s part!
All washed down with a bottle of Douro Vinho Branco Seco Reserva 2013 – a night out to remember (even with the slightly inaccurate translation of my name with the booking!).