Ingredient of the Month: Almonds

One of the most typical elements in the Algarve’s landscapes are the countless almond trees in bloom that fill up the fields with a delicate white and pink colour in the beginning of each year, around January and February.

Legend says that the almond trees first appeared in the Algarve, particularly in Silves, around the time of the Arab occupation, hundreds of years ago. After one of his many battles, the Arab king Ibn-Almundim fell in love with one of his prisoners, a tall, blond and blue eyed princess called Gilda. As time went by, and after he gave her her freedom, he ended up winning her heart and marrying her. But one day, the princess, feeling homesick, fell into a deep depression. The king, desperate, ended up finding a creative solution: he ordered almond trees to be planted all over the region. In the following spring, the king took the princess to one of their terraces so that they could both look over the almond trees that, at the time, where already covered with small white flowers. Seeing that scenery that resembled her homelands’ snow covered fields, the princess cured her depression and started to improve day after day.

In the Algarve, the almond is one of the main ingredients for the local gastronomy and especially confectionery, like for example the famous “doces finos”, “Dom Rodrigos”, “morgadinhos” or “carriços” that don’t leave anyone indifferent.

Besides the delicious sweets it originates, the almond is also nowadays considered a “super food”, and it’s one of the most popular snacks worldwide due to its high health benefits. Rich in protein, vitamin E, magnesium and monounsaturated fat (heart friendly), it’s considered, just like avocado and olive oil, extremely effective to prevent diabetes, heart problems and to lower bad cholesterol levels.

And it is also one of the ingredients regularly included in VILA VITA Parc’s menus, specially highlighted during the month of March. Discover it in dishes such as the Sweet Almond Roll at restaurant Adega, the Almond and Custard Croissants at breakfast at the Bela Vita restaurant or in Oasis Bar’s Spicy Almonds.