Following my recent trip to Madeira what struck me was the amount of fantastic food and drink available in area. To celebrate the delicious Madeiran cuisine I’ve listed my top dishes from my recent visit of this beautiful and unique island…
Bolo de caco – wherever you go in Madeira you will find this gorgeous local bread. It’s a flat, circular bread cut in half and toasted with melted garlic butter and parsley. It is absolutely delicious and totally moreish! You can also have these as a sandwich with tuna, cheese or meat in it. Expect to pay around 2-3€ for a plain Bolo de caco.
Espetada em Pau de Lauro – Effectively this is meat on a skewer! Usually formed of beef the skewer is traditionally made using a laurel stick. However you can also see it on a long skewer which is often hung on a rack and installed at the table, the juice captured on plate below.
Espada (Black Swordfish) – Espada is a deep water dwelling fish found in the water surrounding Madeira. It is an extremely ugly fish with huge eyes, however it has a very soft white flesh. I enjoyed it the traditional way, fried, accompanied with a flambeed banana – a perfect combination of tender fish and a tropical flavour.
Bife de Atum (tuna steak) – Delicious fresh tuna steak, usually either fried or grilled and served with fresh vegetables or salad.
Grilled limpets – Served with garlic and a squeeze of lemon, this delicious starter is often served directly in the pan.
Tropical fruit – Madeira offers the perfect climate for growing a huge amount of tropical fruit which you can often find in a fresh fruit salad. Fruits include: guava, sleeve, passion fruit, medlar and the wonderfully named ‘delicious fruit’.
TIP: The famous Funchal market has loads of exotic fruit but the prices are sky high. Try and find a smaller fruit shop outside of the market place and you’ll be able to get cheaper fruit!
Passion fruit pudding – I enjoyed this countless times in Madeira, I love passion fruit at the best of times but in this pudding form it was just light and delicious. In Madeira they have so many different varieties of passion fruit – so see if you can try them all.
Madeira Wine – this drink needs little in the way of introduction, it is world famous with vineyards dotted around the island (the most famous of which being Blandy’s). A fortified wine, it comes in a range of dry to sweet styles. It was developed at sea after 17th Century sailors realised that wine often spoiled during the long voyages and needed to be fortified by adding brandy. A real must try when in Madeira!
Poncha – a legendary local drink which can be consumed hot or cold. It’s basically aguardnente (an alcohol made from sugar cane) mixed with honey, sugar and lemon or orange juice. It is a fruity and refreshing drink that is the perfect balance of sweet and sour. You can get a huge number of varieties using different types of juice (try passion fruit if you can!), but in my opinion the traditional is the best.
Want to know more? Take a look at what I got up to in Madeira here.