5 undiscovered culinary experiences in the Azores

Date Posted: 17/09/2013

Sao Miguel's traditional dish, Cozido das Furnas.

Pictured: Sao Miguel's traditional dish, Cozido das Furnas.

From lunch in a volcano to searing seafood on local lava stone; the Azores offers a mouth-watering array of quirky culinary experiences to enjoy on your group holiday.

A four-hour flight from the UK to São Miguel Island, it’s a great destination for special interest groups to enjoy unusual and traditional ‘foodie’ experiences.

1. Volcano cuisine in Furnas

Ever wondered what volcano cuisine tastes like? In a village named Furnas (which exists within the crater of a ‘sleeping’ volcano) on the island of São Miguel is an Azorean restaurant which serves the islands’ traditional dish which is slow-cooked in the ground using the heat generated by the volcano.

Throughout the village, there are hot springs spewing from the volcanic landscape. You can witness your meal, Cozido Das Furnas, as it is pulled out of the ground in a large pot before it’s served to you. The traditional dish is a hearty stew mainly consisting of different kinds of local sausage, beef, chicken and a variety of vegetables.

The restaurant overlooks one of the most beautiful gardens in Europe, Terra Nostra Park, for great views while you dine.

2. The Faial Island’s world-famous sailors’ café

Thanks to the Azores’ positioning in the heart of the Atlantic, Faial Island’s bustling and colourful Peters Cafe has become one of the most famous stop-offs en-route for sailors, yachtsmen, international celebrities and whalers in times gone by. Inside, you’ll hear languages from around the world and sample delicious fresh fish.

Visiting groups can take a stroll along the marina to discover the many paintings created by passing sailors which clutter the stonework of the harbour.

3. Sear your own seafood on local lava stone in Horta

A ‘must-eat’ during a group trip to the Azores is Canto Da Doca in the heart of Horta on Faial Island.

Hot Springs at Furnas.

Pictured: Hot springs at Furnas.

The restaurant serves a variety of seafood and local meats, and is popular as guests can cook their own food to preference on their very own, piping hot slab of local lava stone from the table.

Groups can enjoy the nautical theme and merry atmosphere, with views over Horta’s famous sailing Marina and across to the tallest mountain in Portugal, Pico on Pico Island.

4. Dishes of Azorean ancestors at Terceira’s 18th century farm

Quinta Do Martelo, a 18th century working farm, restaurant and rural accommodation hidden in the heart of Terceira Island’s countryside, offers quirky age-old Azorean cuisine.
Amidst the tranquillity of the farm, guests will be greeted by their host, Gilberto Vieira before savouring award-winning National Heritage dishes including soups and meat sourced from the surrounding farm, as well as freshly caught seafood.

These authentic dishes are served in the rustic farm style restaurant and prepared in a wood-burning stove before being served just as the locals’ ancestors would have.

5. Back to basics: from food harvest & production to the old markets

Known for their signature small bananas, guavas, passion fruits, teas, pineapples and plentiful seafood and meats, the Azores offer ample opportunity to learn about traditional produce, from the harvest and production to the market stall.

Groups can whet their appetites with fruits and seafood (such as squid, clams, tuna, swordfish, limpets and crabs) at local markets, such as the traditional market in Horta on Faial Island and Ponta Delgada’s Graça Market.

Learn how the produce is harvested and prepared on São Miguel Island at the Pineapple Plantation (to sample the juicy fruit and a pineapple liquor) or the Gorreana tea factory, where travellers can learn about the collection of Azorean tea before sampling the different flavours.

Take in the UNESCO-listed vineyards on Pico Island, the home of the Azores’ Pico white wine; or sample the local São Jorge cheese (named after the island on which it was born), at its Cheese Factory.

For more group travel information or advice planning a group holiday to the Azores, visit www.visitazores.com.

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