Vitamin Sea: The Food of Madeira & The Azores
Sitting right in the Atlantic, Madeira is a land of magnificent scenery with a mild climate, wonderful folk traditions and a very distinct gastronomy. The cuisine is based on peasant traditions and i cooked as simply as possible. Madeirans love their fish and on the table, black scabbard fish fillets and tuna steak will sit alongside octopus, limpets and periwinkles.
Starters or appetisers are not commonly found on the island, but you can be almost sure to find a warm bolo do caco with garlic butter and parsley. The locals will also often enjoy a plate of grilled limpets, served with garlic and lemon, and a glass of the local wine. A A classic Madeiran dish is sopa de tomate e cebola. This is a tomato and onion soup, topped with a poached egg. Another popular dish is açorda, a bread-soup made of large pieces of bread, garlic, poached egg, winter savoury and olive oil, with hot water poured over everything. The smell is amazing and the taste just as good!
For the meat courses, you will find the traditional dishes of espetada, carne vinha-d’alhos, picado and other deliciously grilled meat courses (mainly chicken, pork chops, beef steaks). The espetada is made of chunks of beef rubbed in garlic and salt, skewered onto a stick and left to grill over wood chips. A wonderful pork dish is carne de vinha-d’alhos, consisting of small pieces of pork meat left to marinade for 24 hours in a mixture of garlic, wine vinegar and bay leaves, before it is cooked in the same sauce. Finally there’s the very popular picado. This consists of small pieces of beef fried with garlic in a pan, sometimes with the addition of red peppers, served in one big dish surrounded by chips. Everybody eats out of the same dish with a fork – an ideal dish to prepare without much effort for get-togethers with family and friends.
Açorda recipe (serves 4)
500g thick rustic style bread, stale if possible and torn into 1 to 2 inch chunks
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 bunch coriander, washed and roughly chopped
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1.5 litres water
4 tablespoons olive oil
black pepper, to taste
- Finely chop the garlic, coriander and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and put into the saucepan.
- Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan and poach the eggs in it, one at a time, leaving the yolks a little runny.
- Pour the hot water (don’t worry about any egg bits in it) over the garlic-coriander paste, give it a good stir and add the oil and more salt to taste.
- Add the bread and let it all soak for 5 minutes. Taste and add more salt if necessary, or more water if it seems too thick – this should be soupy!
- Top the soup with the poached eggs and serve immediately.
WANT TO EXPERIENCE THE MAGIC OF MADEIRA?
You can sail with Rubicon 3 to Madeira on the following trips:
SPAIN TO THE CANARIES
Oct 21 – Nov 03 2019 OR November 03 – 17 2019
Special Vitamin Sea 2019 price: £1,499 down from £1,999
SPAIN TO MADEIRA
Oct 29 – Nov 10 2019
Special Vitamin Sea 2019 price: £1,499 down from £1,999
The Azores are an archipelago of nine islands in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. They are far off the beaten track for tourists and even many of the locals have never been to all nien islands. Azorean cuisine is similar to Madeiran food in that it is a rich, hearty, peasant-based style of cooking, but it is quite distinct. The Azores is famous for its cheese, with the best produced on São Jorge. It is aged for two to three years and has a fantastically salty, spicy taste. The islands are also famous for their pineapples. These are probably nothing like what you would expect, being smaller than conventional pineapples and are dense, juicy and very sweet. Locals eat it with everything, from lightly fried sausage to a pineapple carpaccio dusted with cinnamon.
For such small islands, the archipelago’s foods are remarkably regionalised, differing by island, town and even neighbourhood. This is particularly so with sopa de couves, the islands’ version of Portugal’s national dish, caldo verde. Some mash the potatoes, others finely chop the greens, some add red beens, ham or beef. Azoreans famously can’t agree on what ingredients make the best sopa de couves. Faial cooks insist on spring greens whereas cooks from São Miguel only want the ruggedness of kale.
There are two other dishes central to Azorean cuisine: bacalhau (salt cod) and porco (pork). Indeed, salt cod plays such an important role in the lives of Azoreans that it’s said they have 365 recipes for bacalhau — one for each day of the year. Meanwhile, pork is so highly prized that every year around Christmas everyone has a three day celebration called matança de porco. On the first day, the fattest pig is slaughtered and hung from the ceiling of the home . That night, friends and family come to see it and a simple yet plentiful feast of food and drink is accompanied by lots of singing and dancing. The next two days days see the pig butchered to make the famous linguiça and chouriço sausages. No part of the pig is wasted and all the offal is used in stews, cozidos and soups.
- 1 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley , (30g)
- 2 shallots
- 1 lemon
- 3 onions
- olive oil
- 20 mixed-colour olives , stone in
- 1 pinch of dried chilli flakes
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- extra virgin olive oil
- 500 g Maris Piper potatoes
- 1.2 litres vegetable oil , for frying
- 6 large free-range eggs
WANT TO EXPERIENCE THE MAGIC OF THE AZORES?
You can sail with Rubicon 3 to the Azores on the following trips:
THE ATLANTIC ISLANDS
Nov 17 – Dec 01 2019. Special Vitamin Sea 2019 price: £1,499 down from £1,999
THE AZORES TO THE ALGARVE
Dec 07 – 21 2019. Special Vitamin Sea 2019 price: £1,499 down from £1,999
TELL US WHY YOU LOVE MADEIRA AND THE AZORES! THE BEST ENTRY GETS A £250 RUBICON 3 VOUCHER. EMAIL US AT VITAMINSEA@RUBICON3.CO.UK