If you haven't had a chance to check out last week's post, you can read about the highlights of my trip to the Azores. If you did read it, you'll know that one of my favorite things about the trip was the food! Duh!
The post written prior to heading to the Azores talked about my newfound place of eating without fear, and how I can now enjoy celebrating food and nourishing my body with an ebb and flow. It's such a liberating place to be, and so you can only imagine just how much fun I had with my new mantra, 'when in Rome'!
The Azores consist of 9 islands off the coast of Portugal. They are known for their agriculture, dairy farming, livestock ranching and fishing, so you can bet that their food is as fresh and yummy as it comes!
I have slowly made my transition back into animal products after being a strict vegan, macrobiotic dieter, easing into fish, eggs, then chicken, meat, and being okay with the occasional sugar and flour products, but dairy was always my biggest place of resistance. I just couldn't bring myself to eat cheese or butter, until very recently. Once I realized a little bit of this and a little bit of that wouldn't hurt me, I softened to the idea of eating dairy again. All in moderation, only from a good source, and of the highest quality! ;)
Well, Azorean cheese and butter is probably the best of the best!!! I ate 'fresh cheese' (a soft blend of cow and goat) with homemade bread at every meal we sat down to, and felt great!
I indulged in sweet pastry treats (quiejadas de leite) that I stumbled upon in every cafe! They include 5 fresh, quality ingredients of flour, eggs, butter, sugar, milk. Nothing processed. So yummy and made with love!
The fish stew from Ondos Do Mar is AMAZING! Straight off the boat daily! Super nourishing and satisfying, made with potatoes and herbs. It doesn't get much better than that!
We had the BEST steak ever one night when our new friends brought us to the local fave spot of Galego in Ponta Delgada! They serve it with a fried egg on top and pimento pepper slices and roasted garlic. Mmmm! They also serve it with hand sliced french fries ~ not fried in nasty oils!
The sweet rice pudding we found in a mom and pops place is a local favorite in Furnas and was to die for! It's made out of milk, butter, sugar, rice, cinnamon and lemon. The chocolate mousse that we found on many dessert menus was also unbelievable! OMG! Made out of sugar, eggs, dark chocolate and butter. I mean...
The special thing about the area of Furnas, is that they are known for their natural hot springs (caldeiras). The restaurants cook their food in the ground in the caldeiras for about 8 hours. Basically like a clambake, but deep in the ground they throw in all sorts of meats and vegetables. It has a semi-sulfuric taste, but worth a try and definitely a local tradition!
There is nothing quite like the homemade bread from this island! The best part is that it's still made fresh daily and delivered to people's homes and hung on their door knobs every morning! I wouldn't be surprised if they still have a milkman making deliveries too! Such sweet european traditions still intact!
The wine is also absolutely perfect! Unfortunately, you can't find Portuguese wine here in the States, so it was such a treat to drink some of the best wine I've ever had! They love their wine and they drink it just as many europeans do ~ on their lunch breaks, and throughout their leisure days spent in good company with good food! I just love how they celebrate life everyday!!!!
We went to a couple tea factories where we sampled some of the best tea I've ever had! No additives, just pure tea leafs that taste so smooth ~ never bitter! The Azores are the home of Europe's oldest tea estate.
Our favorite dining experience was at Silva's Restaurant in Ribeira Grande where we ate limepds (shellfish-barnacles) sauteed grouper, fried mackeral and lots of bread, cheese, wine and puddings! We sat there for the entire lunch rush and had the best time people watching and seeing how everyone comes together to eat platters of fish and vegetables and drinks bottles of wine before heading back to their day. It's amazing.
I should probably mention just how breathtaking the view was at 4 Platanos! We sat there for a couple hours just hanging out drinking wine, eating bread and cheese, and the best chicken wings EVER!
I also made sure to eat their traditional portuguese soup (Caldo Verde) made of chorizo, kale, and potato at a local cafe. It was surprisingly really good!!!
So, when visiting the Azores, be sure to eat what they are known for ~ dairy, livestock, bananas, potatoes, fish galore and sweet treats! I know I did! For more inspiration on cultural cuisines, check out this post.