Fresh flowers and moss on the nose. Yep. Fresh and mossy. A light bodied red fruit explosion sneaks up on the front end, with a hint of vanilla. Some pleasant green tannins bring this one to an abrupt close, and a lingering hit of that same freshness as it fades out to warm tannins.
This place was a very lucky find and a huge treat. We dug this one out of an old guidebook and, after much arguing and discussion with the cab driver, who had no idea it existed, we were happy to arrive. You need one word and one word only to dine magnificently here: cataplana. I freely admit to not previously being aware of this transcendent dish:
O ye of fishy savor
Of all the salt and wind of the sea
Of all the earthy flavor of plant and seed
Of all the dreams I’ve yet to dream
Cataplana, “oh, sim!”
I’ll have the Cataplana, please.
I just made that up, but you should follow the instructions and order Cataplana and be happy to wait for such perfection to be delivered to your table. It is a traditional dish of assorted seafood and vegetables such as peppers, onions, and potatoes. And, like many traditional dishes, one that is far too overlooked lately. As a huge paella fanatic, I must admit that if the Portuguese ever figure it out, they’ll give the Spaniards a run for their saffron-flavored money with Cataplana.
The owners here have been doing this for a long time: thirty-plus years, as the patriarch of the family told me. The service is very homey – they only serve dishes that make them proud to smile, and generally eat exactly what you do. As in, you will see them around the corner chomping away on their own portion, if you, like us, go too late. For my money, Murta runs like a well-tuned instrument: each note is perfectly tuned with each inch and you almost cannot go wrong ordering any combination on the menu.
I already wrote a poem here. What else do you want to know? In the last several months the Cataplana is probably the best meal I have had, whether Barcelona, Sevilla, Lisbon, New York, LA, Zurich, Geneva, DC, Chicago, or Miami, this little granny-ran hole in the wall in the south of Portugal beat them all. So, go!
Rua Infante Dom Henrique 136, 8000-256 Faro, Portugal