Across the nine islands of the Azores, the shellfish are particularly rich in flavour, with xarelete, barnacle and ‘lapa à cabeça’, a species of limpet, all part the gastronomic heritage of the islands. Fish are served both fresh and grilled, and in ‘caldeirada’ stews and soups. Fricasseed octopus is another popular favourite.
Of the meats, highlights include Terceira beef loin and the popular ‘Cozido das Furnas’ meat stew. Traditional to S. Miguel, this dish involves hermetically sealing the pan and placing it in a volcanic vent where it is left to gently cook. The traditional recipe for yams and sausage is another favourite on the islands, with its various interpretations across the archipelago.
There are also a number of excellent cheeses across the Azores, even if most attention goes to the São Jorge cheese.
In mainland Portugal it is simply known as ‘queijo da ilha’ - island cheese.
Of the wines, special mention must go to the Verdelho, the best-known of which is produced in Pico in a manmade landscape that has gained World Heritage recognition. The wine of Biscoitos, on Terceira, should also be sampled.
And of the desserts, ‘massa sovada’ (beaten pastry) is the most common, although there are tasty ‘queijada’ cakes in Graciosa and other sweets traditional to each island. However, every visitor should try are a few rings of the ever-so-sweet Azorean pineapple, which will complete a wonderful gastronomic experience.