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 travelling 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. The following examples are especially worthy of mention among the many fantastic dishes:
- The popular “Sopas do Espírito Santo” (Holy Spirit Soups), the “Caldeiradas de peixe” (Fish stews), the “Massa Sovada” (Sweet Loaf), and the delicious “Malassadas” a type of sugar donut;
- In São Miguel, the “Caldo Azedo” (Sour broth), the “Couves Solteiras” (Single Kale), the “Torresmos de molho de fígado” (Liver sauce spareribs), the “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), the “Arroz de Lapas” (Limpet Rice), “Lapas de molho Afonso” (Limpets with Afonso sauce) and especially the “Cozido nas Caldeiras das Furnas” the meal cooked in the Hot Springs in Furnas:
- The “Caldo de nabos” (Turnip broth), the “Bolo na panela” type of polenta made with cornmeal, the “Caçoila” (Pork stew), and the “Molhos de porco” (Pork Sauce), are all very typical of the cuisine in Sta. Maria;
- The famous “Alcatra” a meat dish cooked in a clay pot in a wood stove, the “Caldeirada de peixe com maçãs” (Fish stew with apples), the “morcela” (blood sausage), the “sarapatel” a type of pork sauce, the “Polvo” (octopus stewed or bakes) and the “Coelho de molho vilão” (Rabbit with onion vinegar sauce), all from Terceira;
- The fish used in various stews and oven baked dishes honouring the Graciosa cuisine like the “polvo guisado” (stewed octopus);
- The “ameijoas” clams, from the Caldeira de Santo Cristo in São Jorge;
- The tasty “Caldos de Peixe” (Fish broth), the “Linguiça com inhame” (Sausage with yams), the “Torresmos de porco” (spareribs), and the “Molha de carne” a meat dish from the Mountain island of Pico;
- Faial’s cuisine includes the “Torresmos de vinha-de-alhos” (Spareribs in a garlic wine and pepper sauce), the “arroz de lapas” (limpets with rice), “Carne de molha” meat dish, and the “Filetes de molho ferrado”, (the Fish filets in heavy sauce) and other appetising dishes;
- The “Sopa de agrião” (Watercress soup), the “Cozido de porco” (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 the “Pastéis de ervas marinhas” (Seaweed fried turnovers), from Flores.
The “vinho de cheiro” or the “Morangueiro” is a wine produced in most of the islands. The famous “Verdelho” from Pico was a part of the Czars’ dinners and many other wines produced in Graciosa, Terceira (Biscoitos), Santa Maria (São Lourenço) and S.Miguel (Caloura), are all good suggestions to accompany any of the typical dishes. The fig and quince aguardente (brandy) are a delightful finish to a meal.
Lobsters, “Cavacos” similar to the lobster, “lapas” (limpets), fresh of 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 the “Suspiros” (Meringue), “Melindre”, “Biscoitos-de-orelha” biscuits, “Cavacos” and eclair with hardened sugar, “Encanelados”, “Brindeirinhos, Biscoitos de aguardente” (Brandy biscuits), “Tigeladas” (Custards), “Biscoitos estalados” and “Bolinhos de consoada” (Cupcakes);
- In Terceira “Confeitos, Coscorões, Donas-amélias, Alfinim” different types of comfits;
- In Graciosa “Pasteis de Arroz” (Rice cupcakes), “Capuchos, Escomilhas, Encharcados d’ovos” all comfits, and the “Queijadas” (Cupcakes);
- In São Jorge “Doce Branco” (White dessert), the “Esquecidos, Espécies, Rosquilhas de aguardente”, “Bolo de véspera” (Night before cake), “Bolos de Coalhada” (Cake) and “doce angelica”.
- In Pico “Arroz doce” (Rice pudding), and “Vésperas” “Coscorões”, “Filhoses”, “Sonhos” and the decorated Eclairs from Faial;
All of these are delicious regional sweets which can also be accompanied by the delicious Tea “Chá Gorreana” and “Chá Porto Formoso” both 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 are the soft cheese, Queijo do Pico (soft cheese) and the “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, “Licor Lajido” from Pico and the famous “Licor de maracujá” Passion fruit Liqueur, from São Miguel, among others produced in the region are recommended digestives.