A gourmet tour in the Azores

Natacha Costa | Live the World

November 23, 2022

A traveler in the Azores islands, a remote Portuguese archipelago, is unlikely to go hungry. Here, meat and fish couldn't be fresher, dairy products are delicious, there is a very special wine and, of course, the unique "cozido" from Furnas. But, let's go one by one! Here is the must-eat list for, some say, the most beautiful archipelago in the world.

Cozido das Furnas

The Azores are a volcanic hotspot - an area of high volcanic activity. Therefore, all kinds of not so common geological processes might be happening right under your feet. It's not strange to find smelly sulfur hot springs or even small ponds of literally boiling water. It's thanks to these unique conditions that the main speciality of the Azores was created. Cozido das Furnas is a signature dish of S. Miguel island. You can never make it at home, unless there is an active volcano in your backyard. This one-pot dish is slow-cooked for over 5 hours in a hole in the ground near the hot geysers of Furnas town. There are plenty of restaurants in Furnas where you can order it (5h in advance!), but you can also rent your own hole and prepare one. Usually it's made of chicken, blood sausage, pork, beef, cabbage, carrots, potatoes and other vegetables - all mixed together.

Picture © Credits to Sohadiszno

Picture © Credits to pawopa3336

Delicious dairy

Probably the most famous local product is the cheese, and actually, over 50% of cheese sold in Portugal comes from the Azores. The most known one is made in S. Jorge island. It's called Queijo da Ilha and it's often found in top quality cheese stores around the world. When 2-3 years old, Queijo da Ilha can be mistaken for a good Parmesan. For a dairy gourmet experience visit Quinta dos Açores, a factory and a restaurant in Terceira Island.

Picture © Credits to pawopa3336

Wine from Pico Island

Another remarkable product of the Azores are its wines, especially those made in Pico island. The vines in Pico actually grow and produce grapes on the surface of volcanic rocks - pretty extreme conditions for these sensitive plants. They are warmed by the Gulf Stream and protected by a one and a half meter high rocky wall built around them, forming small rectangular cells. These walls serve to protect the vines from wind, but also to accumulate the heat. The result is small but delicious production.

Picture © Credits to font83

Juicy Pineapple

Although there are many tasty sweets coming from all the islands, my suggestion is to stick to equally sweet and incredibly juicy pineapple from the Azores - ananas, in Portuguese. On São Miguel Island there is a pineapple plantation, "Augusto Arruda", that can be visited. The entrance is free, pineapple, in fact, is expensive, but the place is worth visiting. They explain to you how their pineapples are grown from scratch. At the end, you get to taste some pineapple liquor and fresh juice.

Picture © Credits to Frank Buß

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