Any tips on The Azores ? ( Ponta Delgada especially )
Am on a ship that was supposed to stop in Bermuda, but was unable to due to a big storm.
...So, now we are making a new stop on Ponta Delgada, the Azores.
We'll be there on Saturday from about 7am until about 4pm -- about 9 hours.
I haven't been able to locate any posts yet from the Spain/Portugal nor International boards...
I'm looking for local "authentic" specialties -- restaurants, markets, etc. -- preferably patronized by locals. (I'm willing to put up with other tourists too, if necessary!)
I think I'm willing to go anywhere within reason for good chow (provided we can return in about 6 hours or so.)
Any price range, from bare bones to very nice, is fine.
Any chowing tips here, would be greatly appreciated!
I just returned from a week long trip to the Azores, staying in Ponta Delgada. I didn't find much when I searched the internet for restaurant recs, so I thought I would share my experience.
Here is what I learned about the food:
1. It is important to like seafood, if you are vacationing there – we had it at almost every meal. The selection is endless: swordfish, tuna, sardines, weckfish, shrimp, shellfish, as well as other fishes that seemed to have no translation.
2. The cheeses are tasty. The weather in the Azores is very mild; it never drops below freezing so the cows are free to roam around the pastures all year long. Our guide, Eduardo, told us that this leads to happy cows and delicious cheeses. We started most meals with a large basket of bread and queso fresco, a fresh, mild, creamy farmer’s cheese. You could top it with jam or spicy pimento pepper sauce. It was delicious and I bought a jar of the sauce home, in hopes of locating a local source of queso fresco to recreate my experience. They produce many types of cheese, but queso fresco is the one I miss already.
3. Wine is cheap, plentiful and delicious. There was one meal where we attempted to order 2 glasses of red wine. Something was lost in translation and they brought us a bottle. The bill came and it was 6 euros ($9). The markup on wine appears to be 10%, as opposed to the 300% it is in the States. They also believe in a generous pour – our wine glasses were always filled to the rim.
4. There is a lack of green vegetables. Most entrées are served with rice or boiled potatoes. If you do get a side of salad, it will be a few leaves of lettuce topped with shredded carrots.
5. Azoreans love sugar. Their cookies, pastry, cakes, liquors, and jams are all very very sweet.
6. Coffee is served after dessert, so you have to ask specifically if you would like your espresso and sweet together.
7. The food and drink are affordable by US standards and downright cheap for Europe.
Despite what I said about the seafood, one meal you absolutely must have while in the Azores is a cozida. In the town of Furnas, they use the geothermal heat to cook the cozida. A large pot is layered with beef, pork, chicken, blood sausage, chorizo, potatoes, yams, taro, cabbage, kale, onions and garlic. It is wrapped up and lowered in to a hole in the ground. It steams for 6-7 hours and after it is unearthed you have the most delicious and tender assortment of meats and veggies. I told my guide about my blog and my love of food and he asked if I would like to help lift the cozida out? Absolutely!
Here’s the list of the restaurants we went to:
O Corisco (Ponta Delgada) – This was our first night and we both ordered the 15 euro prix fixe menu. They started the meal with free sparking wine, the delicious queso fresco, bland bread soup, the fish of the day (which I still don’t know what I ate, but it was good), wine and dessert. We tried a coconut cake and an almond cake – both were dry. The place was filled with other tourists from our hotel.
Paladares da Quinta (Lagoa) – Since this was including in our full day tour of attractions in the West part of the island (Sete Cidades & Lagoa do Fogo), I was not expecting much, but this was the best swordfish of the trip.
Adega Regional (Ponta Delgada) – This is a small family run restaurant and it appeared to be filled with locals. Carol and I shared a mixed grill of chicken, beef and pork. The pork was the best – it tasted like thick cut bacon, but even the chicken was tender. This is where I tried limpets, a local shellfish, similar to clams. They grill them on the half shell and cover them with enough garlic to kill a colony of Azorean vampires. Some were chewy, but I really enjoyed them. Our meal was extremely affordable.
Casa De Pasto Restaurante, O Avião (Ponta Delgada) – My grilled sardines were amazing; they were huge (5-6 inches long) and smoky and tender. It was my favorite fish dish of the whole trip. Carol had a mixed grilled fish entrée (Swordfish, tuna, weckfish). We sat outside for 2 hours and drank the bottle of wine they (mistakenly) brought us.
A Colmeia Café (Ponta Delgada) – A Colmeia is a fine dining establishment and A Colmeia Café is its more casual sister restaurant. It is nicely situated across from the marina; Carol and I went here 3 times to have our afternoon espresso and sweet. They were friendly and did not mind that we sat for hours reading and enjoying the view of the water. The cakes and pastries were only okay, but the view made up for any of the food’s shortcomings.
Sao Pedro (Ponta Delgada) – This was easily the most expensive meal of our trip, coming in at 50 euros. We started with tough, dry fried calamari, but my head-on shrimp with grilled pineapple was excellent. We also got the pork picante, a traditional pork dish. It was flavorful, but tough. We did not even bother with dessert.
There are pictures and more details on my blog, if you are interested.
re: Steve S
Hi Steve, I've been to the Azores around 25 times - we run bicycling and walking tours there! (See http://www.easyridertours.com if you start feeling guilty from too much good food.) Try to get out from Ponta Delgada to see the island's special places - the botanical park in Furnas, the little islet (Ilheu) of Vila Franca, crater lakes of Lagoa do Fogo or Sete Cidades, the Serra da Tronqueira, Nordeste... The smaller towns tend to have better food than "downtown."
For something close to Ponta Delgada, I highly recommend "A Lota" in Lagoa (a 15-minute taxi ride). See http://www.alotarestaurante.com.
The 4/19/07 suggestions from estufarian are right on! Other taste sensations- the piquant cheese from the island of São Jorge. Go to Furnas to seek out homemade bolo levado (a raised English muffin-like bread). Try queijo fresco (mild farmers cheese) with salt and a touch of piri-piri hot sauce. To really get off the beaten track, go to the port in Ribeira Quente for a plate of fresh chicharros (horse mackerel - you eat the whole fish), bolo de certão (pan bread), and salsa verde (parsley sauce) at Cafe Costaneira. There's even a "festa do chicarro" (chicarro festival) there sometime in July! Boa viagem!
I appreciate the information and will try to make use of it. However, my time in the Azores will be structured around a conference. What would be helpful is some information on good places to eat (or to avoid!) in Ponta Delgada itself.
We'll be taking some trips around the island in a group, but where we go and where we'll eat will be determined by others.
Well I found a little more information. Apparently, there's 50,000 people in Ponta Delgada. There'll be about 4000 people offboarding. I spoke to someone who has been there and she recommended we head for the local business district where the business people eat; that should lessen the chance that we'll be inundated by our fellow cruisers.
Other than that, we're still hoping any fellow hounds can come up with more specifics for us! Thanks! -R-
re: R from SF
Can't help with specific places, but when I went a few years back I used a 2003 Chowhound post to find the local specialities. Unfortunately I can't find the original post - my guess is that there are later responses (the old Board kept everything under the originating date; the new system moves them to the date of latest response).
However, my own archive records the following:
Subject: Re(1): Azores?
Posted: May 23, 2003 at 18:09:34
In Reply To: Azores?
Posted by Boswell on May 19, 2003 at 11:33:52
Message: Youve come to the right man! Im Portuguese (In lisbon now) but born in the Azores, specifically S.Miguel!
Ok dont let anyone tell you that the local cooking is subpar! You wont find a world class, michelin star experience, but you will find plenty of delicious meals in S.Miguel and thats what chowhounding is all about.
THE meal to have in S.Miguel is the cozido das furnas, the S.Miguel take on cozido a portuguesa which is a delicious mix of beef, pork, chorizo, morcela (portuguese black blood sausage)and various vegetables cooked underground for many hours in the natural heat of the volcanically active soil in the Furnas region. Make sure to eat the soup of the cozido as well, made from the broth. Various restaurants serve it, but the best way to have cozido is by making it yourself...I still dream about the anticipation of the deliciousness awaiting me when the pot is removed from the ground
Then for fish go to ribeira grande, and a restaurant called Alabote which has an amazing cataplana dish, which is a kind of stew made with a traditional copper pan.
PLEASE try grilled Lapas, which are an endangered mussel from the azores but can still be found on many restaurants....squeeze some fresh lemon over it and you will be in heaven guaranteed! Both White Shark or Casa Marisqueira in Calhetas will give you decent lapas! If you can find it also try rice with lapas!
Another cant miss experience is Cracas! Im telling you here and now that cracas are (GASP!!!) better than perceves, which seem to be the holy grail of many a chowhounder here. Cracas are a tiny mullusk which makes a coral nest inside of rocks, and to eat them, you cook the rocks which have many little holes in them filled with cracas in ocean water and you use a little hook to fish the cracas critter out. With some nice vinho verde...oh my god you will be in Paradise.
A great hole in the wall secret of S.Miguel is Gilberto da relva, a restaurant in the town of Relva which caters to the portuguese businessman for lunch, (emphasis on the man, it is a guy hangout place). It serves delicious, cheap meal, and make sure to try their little milk tarts (queijadas de leite) with cinnamon sprinkled over.
you must also try the Azorean pineapple, basically any place sells them, and they are incredible, more acidic and tart than regular north american ones.
For a great snack with beer try azorean lippini beans (tremoços)at any bar.
Swordfish (Espadarte) is simply delicious in the azores
Chorizo flambee (Choriço a bombeiro)
And hey, while you are there...why not stay at my aunts windmill? I might as well put a little publicity here...its a beautiful restored windmill available for rural tourism and at a very reasonable price :)check it out at www.moinhodabibi.pt.vu
Happy eating and enjoy the Azores! They are true jewels!
How wonderful to find this post! My husband and I went to the Azores for our honeymoon and guess where we stayed?? Your aunt's windmill! She was such a gracious host and invited us to the cultural festival in Candelaria, where I got to help make morcela and we enjoyed a delicious feast of roasted pig.