A good example of this is the Kale Soup. The hearty Azorean version is full of big chunks of kale, potatoes and linguiça, whereas the Caldo Verde made on the mainland is creamy and smooth, with thin strips of kale and maybe one or two slices of linguiça in each bowl.
The Azores are famous for their rich dairy products. Cows tend to be used for that purpose, rather than as meat (pork is the main meat used in cooking). At breakfast you are likely to be served a small glass jar filled with local yoghurt, breads spread with rich butter and a coffee with lots of steamed whole milk. The cheeses are also very good on the islands and the Queijo Såo Jorge from the island of Såo Jorge can be found in a few top quality cheese stores around the world.
A very unique type of food that comes from the island of Såo Miguel (the biggest island) is Cozida. This is a sort of one-pot meal that is actually cooked by digging a hole in the ground near the famous caldeiras (hot geysers) of Furnas (which, not surprisingly, means “furnace” in Portuguese).
Alcatra is another popular Azorean dish that hails from the island of Terçeira. This pot roast style of dish can be made from pork, beef, or another animal and is slow baked with tomatoes, onions, garlic, and a bit of clove.
These are islands so it is not surprising that seafood figures heavily in the cuisine. As in the mainland, bacalhau (cod) and other fish figures heavily in the mix, but there is a heavier use of polvo (octopus), lamprey and limpets.
Ananas, or pineapples, are grown on the island of Såo Miguel and are exported heavily to mainland Portugal. It is frequently seen on the menu of Azorean restaurants for dessert and is the rare exception to the richly sweet dishes that characterise most of the Azorean repertoire of desserts.
Massa Sovada, or Portuguese sweet bread, originated in the Azores and is a ubiquitous part of Christmas and Easter for both Azoreans and mainland Portuguese. For Easter it is often baked with hard-boiled eggs in the centre of the loaf. Malasadas are round balls of dough that are deep fried and rolled in sugar, almost like a doughnut, that are supposed to have originated in the island of Såo Miguel.
The geographical dispersion of these islands is probably the main reason for the large variety of dishes found in the traditional Azorean cuisine. It characterised by an assorted menu of succulent recipes to satisfy even the most demanding palates. The large piscicultural richness of the Azores’ ocean in addition to the production of quality meat, cheese and derivatives, and other horticultural products, allows for the use of a great variety of ingredients in the Azorean cuisine.
While traveling the islands in search of regional dishes, many common ones are found among them with only a slight differences in taste due to the use of another spice.
Selection of Dishes in Azorean cuisine
The following examples are especially worthy of mention among the many fantastic dishes in Azorean cuisine;
- Sopas do Espírito Santo – Sopas is also known as Holy Ghost Soup, and was traditionally served for the feast of Pentecost in the islands of the Azores.
- Caldeiradas de peixe (Fish stews)
- Massa Sovada (Sweet Loaf)
- Malassadas a type of sugar doughnut;
- In São Miguel:
- Caldo Azedo (Sour broth)
- Couves Solteiras (Single Kale)
- Torresmos de molho de fígado (Liver sauce spareribs)
- Fervedouros (Kale and potato soup)
- Polvo Guisado em vinho de cheiro (Stewed Octopus in red wine)
- Linguiça ou Chouriço com inhame (Type of sausage with yams)
- Arroz de Lapas (Limpet Rice)
- Lapas de molho Afonso (Limpets with Afonso sauce) and
- Cozido nas Caldeiras das Furnas – a meal cooked in the Hot Springs in Furnas
- In Santa Maria:
- Caldo de nabos (Turnip broth),
- Bolo na panela – type of polenta made with cornmeal,
- Caçoila (Pork stew), and
- Molhos de porco (Pork Sauce), are all very typical of the cuisine;
- In Terceira:
- Alcatra a meat dish cooked in a clay pot in a wood stove
- Caldeirada de peixe com maçãs (Fish stew with apples)
- Morcela (blood sausage)
- Sarapatel a type of pork sauce
- Polvo (octopus stewed or bakes) and
- Coelho de molho vilão (Rabbit with onion vinegar sauce);
- In the mountain island of Pico:
- Caldos de Peixe (Fish broth)
- Linguiça com inhame (Sausage with yams)
- Torresmos de porco (spareribs), and
- Molha de carne a meat dish
- Faial’s cuisine includes:
- Torresmos de vinha-de-alhos – Spareribs in a garlic wine and pepper sauce
- Carne de molha meat dish
- Filetes de molho ferrado – Fish fillets in heavy sauce;
- from Flores
- Sopa de agrião (watercress soup)
- Cozido de porco (a pork dish)
- Molhos de dobrada (Intestine delicacy sauce)
- Feijão com cabeça de porco (Beans with pig’s head)
- Bolo no Tijolo (Flatbread)
- Caldeirada de Congro (Conger eel bouillabaisse)
- Bonito assado no forno (Baked Bonito), and
- Pastéis de ervas marinhas (Seaweed fried turnovers),
- Lobsters, Cavacos (similar to the lobster), lapas (limpets), fresh or grilled, crabs and the interesting “Cracas” (Barnacles), are much appreciated shellfish consumed in the region.
In the area of pastries the Azores also offer a substantial variety of regional sweets:
- In São Miguel
- Queijadas da Vila (Vila Franca cupcakes)
- Confeitos da Ribeira Grande (Ribeira Grande candy)
- Bolos Lêvedos das Furnas (Leavened Sweetbread from Furnas)
- Bichos de amêndoa, and
- Barriga-de-Freira (Nun’s tummy egg sweets)
- In Santa Maria
- Suspiros (Meringue)
- Biscoitos-de-orelha biscuits
- Biscoitos de aguardente (Brandy biscuits)
- Tigeladas (Custards)
- Biscoitos estalados, and
- Bolinhos de consoada (Cupcakes);
- In Terceira
- In Graciosa
- Pasteis de Arroz (Rice cupcakes)
- Encharcados d’ovos , and
- Queijadas (Cupcakes);
- In São Jorge
- Doce Branco (White dessert)
- Rosquilhas de aguardente,
- Bolo de véspera (Night before cake), and
- Bolos de Coalhada (Cake)
- Rice pudding In Pico
- from Faial;
- Arroz doce (Rice pudding)
- decorated Eclairs
All are regional sweets which can also be accompanied by the Tea “Chá Gorreana” grown and packaged in São Miguel.
The islands offer a vast variety of both cured and fresh cheese for the connoisseurs. Worthy of a special mention is “Queijo da Ilha” from São Jorge.
The sweet and fragrant “Ananás” pineapple, grown in greenhouses in São Miguel is equally a refreshing dessert.
The “Aguardente velha da Graciosa” Brandy and the famous “Licor de maracujá” Passion fruit Liqueur, from São Miguel, among others produced in the region are recommended digestives.