Exploring the Flavors of the Azores: A Culinary Journey Through Sao Miguel

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Sao Miguel, the largest island in the Azores archipelago, has a rich culinary tradition that reflects its history and geography. The island’s cuisine is characterized by fresh seafood, locally grown vegetables, and dairy products.  Unfortunately, we didn’t stay for a meal other than local cheese and wine, but this doesn’t stop me from exploring the taste of the Azores.
Sao Miguel is known for its delicious cuisine, which is heavily influenced by its location in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The island is home to a number of traditional dishes that are made with fresh seafood and locally grown produce.
One of the most popular dishes on the island is Cozido das Furnas, a traditional stew that is cooked in the hot springs of Furnas. The stew is made with a variety of meats, vegetables, and spices, and is cooked for several hours in the hot springs, giving it a unique flavor.
Another popular dish is Lapas, which are limpets that are grilled and served with garlic butter. The island is also known for its fresh fish, including tuna, swordfish, and octopus.
For those with a sweet tooth, Sao Miguel is home to a number of delicious desserts, including Queijadas, which are small cheese tarts, and bolo lêvedo, a sweet bread that is often served with butter and jam.
Here are some of the most popular dishes you can try in São Miguel:
1. Cozido das Furnas: This is a traditional stew that is cooked underground using the natural heat of the volcanic soil. The stew is made with a variety of meats, vegetables, and beans and is served with rice.

2. Lapas: These are small limpets that are grilled and served with garlic butter. They are a popular appetizer in São Miguel.

3. Caldo Verde: This is a traditional soup made with kale, potatoes, and chouriço (a type of sausage). It is usually served with bread.
4. Espetada: This is a skewered meat dish that is popular in São Miguel. The meat is usually marinated in garlic and wine and is served with fries and salad.
5. Queijadas: These are small cheese tarts that are made with fresh cheese, sugar, and eggs. They are a popular dessert in São Miguel.

6. Bolo lêvedo: This is a sweet bread that is similar to English muffins. It is usually served toasted with butter and jam.
7. Vinho Verde: This is a light, refreshing wine that is produced in the Azores. It is a perfect accompaniment to seafood dishes.


1. “Azorean Cooking: From My Family Table to Yours” by Maria Lawton – This cookbook features traditional Azorean recipes that have been passed down through generations of the author’s family.
2. “The New Portuguese Table: Exciting Flavors from Europe’s Western Coast” by David Leite – While not exclusively focused on Azorean cuisine, this cookbook includes several recipes from the Azores, as well as other regions of Portugal.
3. “Family Recipes from Sao Miguel, Azores” by M.R. Tiso – This cookbook features recipes from sauces to main dishes and breads to cooking tips, including traditional dishes like Cozido das furnas and bolo lêvedo.

These cookbooks are a great way to explore the unique flavors and traditions of Azorean cuisine and to try your hand at making some of the delicious dishes yourself.

Madeiran Espetada

PREP 5 minutes

COOK 10 minutes

READY IN 15 minutes


1 kg (2.2 lbs) beef tenderloin

1 branch bay (laurel)

2 heads garlic

coarse salt


  • Cut the meat into equally-sized cubes, then set them aside.
  • Crush the unpeeled garlic and bay leaves in a mortar.
  • Skewer the meat on laurel wood skewers, making sure all the fatty parts face the same side.
  • Rub the crushed garlic and bay leaves into the meat.
  • Sprinkle will salt and cook over embers until browned, turning constantly.
  • When the espetadas are cooked, shake off excess salt by hitting two skewers against each other.
  • Serve hot with fried cornmeal milho frito, Madeiran flatbread bolo de caco, and some garlic butter.

Portuguese Milk Tarts (Queijadas de Leite)

Portuguese Milk Tarts, Queijadas de Leite, are traditional Portuguese dessert made with simple ingredients. These creamy and custardy in the middle and crispy on the outside pastries are quick and easy to make.PREP 10 minutes

COOK 30 minutes

READY IN 40 minutes


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups milkwarm, microwave 30 seconds
  • 3 tbsp buttermelted
  • 3 eggsroom temperature
  • 2/3 cups flourall purpose


  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously grease muffin tins with nonstick cooking spray (recipe will fill 18 cups of a muffin tin).
  • In a large bowl beat the eggs, sugar and melted butter with a fork or whisk until smooth.
  • Add in the flour and mix until smooth.
  • Add in the warm milk and mix until smooth. The batter will be very thin and runny.
  • Pour into the greased muffin tins filling each cup 3/4 of the way full.
  • Bake 20 – 30 minutes, or until golden brown, on the middle rack of oven.
  • Note: while baking the tarts will puff up and while cooling they will sink.
  • Remove from oven. Sprinkle cinnamon on top of each tart (optional).
  • Allow tarts to cool in pan for 5-10 minutes and then carefully remove from pan. Use a knife or cake spatula to loosen the edges of the tart from the pan to remove.


Note/Tip: Milk must be warm and eggs must be at room temperature. If they are cold the melted butter will harden while making the batter and the batter will be lumpy and not bake properly.

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