Looming volcanic mountains, sizzling hot springs and breathtaking scenery… everything you’ll find in the Azores. Nicknamed the “Hawaii of the Mid-Atlantic”, the Azores are an archipelago off the coast of Portugal located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. This archipelago contains rich culture and breathtaking scenery. In recent years, tourism has grown dramatically to these relatively undiscovered vibrant green rolling hills, making the Azores a top trending travel destination.
One of the major highlights of the Azores is the food. The numerous microclimates make it possible to produce different types of ingredients for a variety of dishes. These dishes include tropical fruits, delectable cheeses, fresh locally sourced organic beef, octopus and other seafoods, the oldest tea plantation in Europe, and so much more. The Azores have a plethora of foods and dishes that will tantalize your senses. Below we’ve listed our favorite foods and dishes you should indulge in while visiting the Azores.
1: Cozido das Furnas
Probably the most typical dish that is truly unique to Azorean culture, is the Cozido. Along the steamy sulfur hot springs of Furnas Lake, you will find the Cozido been cooked daily. Cozido das Furnas is essentially a stew heated using the natural geothermal heat of the hot springs in the Azores. Slow cooked for over five hours, this dish is prepared by giant pots which are heated geothermically. This stew captures all the unique flavors of the different vegetables and meats in one delectable meal. Cozido das Furnas usually consists of carrots, yams, sweet potatoes, two different kinds of cabbage, chicken, sausage, beef, pork, and anything else that is local and ready to be cooked that day. This dish is a must have on your Azorean culinary adventure!
2: Local Tropical Fruit
The warm temperate climate of Azores allows for growing many local fruits such as guava, passion, and cherimoya. The most popular fruit grown in the Azores is the pineapple. Did you know the Azores export over 2 million pineapples per year? Originally, in the early 1800’s oranges were the huge wealth-generator for the islands, but after blight wiped them out, they were looking for a new source of revenue. It was discovered that the pineapple plants were immune to the blight, and thus they became the new “it” fruit on the island. The unique Azorean pineapple is smaller and sweeter than most pineapples you pick up at grocery stores in the U.S. The island enjoys local pineapple year-round as well as special cakes, puddings and fruit liqueurs made with its succulent sweet taste.
3: Local Cheese
Cheese may be the most well-known product of the Azores. 50% of the cheese consumed and exported by Portugal comes straight from the Azores. In fact, cheese production in the Azores has been common since the 15thcentury. If you are exploring downtown Ponta Delgada, check out O Rei dos Queijos Bodega (King of Cheese store), located on Rua Do Mercado Da, where you can sample and purchase all of the cheese made in the Azores. A common cheese you’ll find in the Azores is ‘queijo fresco’, a creamy soft cheese that is made daily with a mild and subtle taste that invigorates your tastebuds. Served commonly with freshly made bread and a locally-made tangy red pepper sauce, this cheese is delightful for your taste buds.
4: Local Beef
On an island where the population of cows is greater than people, there is a reason they are known for their beef. These blissful cows spend all day grazing outdoors in the bright green, lush meadows and are treated very well. All the beef on the island is from local cows of the Azores. You will find the most traditional preparation of beef on every local restaurant menu, Bife à Regional. This tender, cooked-to-order steak comes with local red peppers, lots of local garlic, and a fried egg on top, making this a meal to dream about.
5: Bolo Leavdo
Bolo Leavdo, the English muffin of the Azores, is the perfect addition for your breakfast or afternoon snack. Also known as the Portuguese muffins, these griddle cakes are a little larger and sweeter than a typical English muffin. Originating in the Town of Furnas on São Miguel island, these muffins are usually served with fresh cheese on the side as part of your breakfast. Bolo Leavdo cakes are also good on their own as a perfect light pairing with your morning coffee.
6: Grilled Octopus
The ocean provides the Azores with an abundance of foodie treats, and one that they cook to perfection is the grilled octopus. Each dish is prepared with fresh octopus caught that day and is perfectly roasted with potatoes and mixed vegetables. One of the most famous Octopus dishes, octopus stew comes from the island of Pico. This red sauce stew has tender grilled octopus with local vegetables that is guaranteed to make your mouth water. Just make sure you bring some local crunchy bread to soak up the remains.
It is often surprising for people to learn that on the island of São Miguel lives the oldest tea plantation in Europe! Established in 1883, The Gorreana Tea Factory has been making and distributing tea all across Europe and North America for over 100-years. Five generations after it’s conception, the Gorreana Tea Factory is the perfect place to look out over the plantation and enjoy views of the Atlantic Ocean with afresh cup of tea in hand. Visited by tens of thousands of tourists annually, this factory is immersed in a scent of blossoming and drying tea leaves combined with the salty ocean air. Be sure to stop for a visit and grab yourself a cup of delicious Gorreana Estate black or green tea before leaving the Azores!
From local cheese, to fruit and beef, there’s no shortage of delicious food in the Azores! Next time you visit, be sure to come with an empty belly and wide eyes, The next time you visiting the Azores make sure you come with an empty belly and wide eyes, because there is no doubt that you will be leaving dreaming about their food!
At Quest Travel Adventures, we provide exciting and unique trips to the Azores. Some of our most popular Azores trips include our 5 day Taste of the Azores, 6 Day Azores Adventure Seeker and 8 Day Best of Azores. You can view all of our Azores trips here.