This post is written by fellow blogger, Nathan Aguilera. He is the creator at Foodie Flashpacker and when he offered to write a post on the food of the Azores, I was so excited. I’ve had the Azores on my list for a long time, and of course when I finally get there, I’m going to want all the amazing food that I can find.
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What kind of food is there in the Azores?
I had been wanting to visit the Azores of Portugal since a friend had first told me about the collection of nine volcanic islands halfway between Europe and the U.S. She had described the stunning landscapes, dramatic views of the ocean crashing into the cliffs, and even how the islands are the best whale watching place in the world. What she hadn’t prepared me for was phenomenal food and wine.
Located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, it was no surprise that much of the islands’ local diet was seafood. Still, I was pleasantly surprised to find out just how great the seafood was. During this visit, I first tasted one of my new favorite foods- limpets. Limpets remind me of scallops or clams, but are actually a type of snail. We tried limpets prepared in several different ways, including raw and cooked in butter and wine. I discovered my favorite way to eat them is grilled with garlic and with a glass of local wine! I could eat them every day. I also discovered that I don’t love them nearly as much raw. They taste too salty- like the ocean!
The Azores also produce some incredible wines. The islands’ volcanic soil leads to some unique (and delicious) varieties. My favorite is from the Curral Atlântis vineyard, which is producing some amazing white wines. I was fortunate enough to visit during a festival. Although the grill master didn’t speak any English, he was nice enough to make me a mixed plate of sausages, including the best blood sausage I’ve ever had. This version was almost charred on the outside, and you finish it with a squeeze of fresh citrus. I was surprised by how much I loved it!
During lunch one day, I mentioned how much I loved the cheese we had been served with the meal. My guide then arranged for me to tour the cheese factory, where we learned all about the production and different types of cheeses they produce. My favorite was a semi aged cheese that was perfectly salty and just crumbly enough. Yum!
One thing I’ve discovered about myself is that, if there’s grilled octopus on a menu, I likely don’t even need to consider the other options. The Azores have some of the best grilled octopus I’ve ever had. Oftentimes, when you order grilled octopus, it’s small portions without a lot of meat on the plate. Not here! Huge, meaty, fork tender pieces of grilled octopus were served with roasted potatoes and drizzled with fragrant olive oil. You seriously didn’t even need a knife to enjoy this dish. “How do you get this octopus so tender?” I asked the restaurant owner. “By not letting my wife cook it!” he responded.
We also tried another specialty, the famous clams of São Jorge. Local legend says that years ago a small batch of clams were places in the waters of São Jorge. Island residents quickly noticed that the clams were reproducing quickly, although no one can explain why. Whatever the reason, these are some of the most delicious clams I’ve ever had. They’re delicate, yet full of flavor and best served steamed in white wine and garlic and sprinkled with herbs.
Plan, Go, Eat!
There are many great reasons to visit the Azores, such as unspoiled nature, gorgeous scenery, some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met and of course, amazing food and wine. The islands are not yet touristy, but this may change, and since airline service has recently expanded and cruise ships have even begun docking at one of the larger islands, it’s a good time to go. If you’re considering a visit I would try to make it sooner rather than later, as it seems word is getting out. So start planning your visit today, and when you go, make sure to enjoy a plate of limpets for me!
Thanks again to Nathan for providing this tasty info all about the delicious food of the Azores. I can’t wait to go and try it all for myself.
Have you been to the Azores? What was your favorite dish?
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