The gastronomy in Madeira takes influences from Portuguese and Mediterranean cuisine and is said to represent the warm soul of the generous and hospitable people that inhabit the islands.
Expect to find an abundance of fresh fish and seafood as well as tantalising local delicacies, all of which will be bursting with flavour. To get the full taste of Madeira, pair these irresistible dishes with a glass or two of highly esteemed Madeira wine.
In Madeira, you can enjoy one-of-a-kind eating experiences as not only will you be surrounded by beautiful scenery wherever you choose to wine and dine, but you’ll also be enjoying fresh and varied ingredients whose origin can be traced to the rich, volcanic nature of this island, as well as it’s abundant water and favourable climate.
Traditionally tasty dishes include:
- Bolo do Caco: A sweet Madeiran bread made with sweet potatoes, flour, baking powder, salt, and water that’s best enjoyed fresh from the oven and paired with garlic butter, fries, fried maize and salad.
- Espetada: Mouth-watering beef skewered onto laurel sticks, seasoned with salt, garlic and bay leaves, and roasted in a brazier.
- Bolo de Mel: A traditional dessert likened to a honey cake and often contains mixed nuts.
Whatever you decide to eat, rest assured that Madeira will have a local wine to complement it as an apéritif or digestif. Thanks to its unique character and aromas, Madeira is renowned for its fortified wine across the globe, so much so that even The independence of the United States, on the 4th of July 1776, was celebrated with a toast of the island’s wine. Madeiran wine boasts an impressive history, spanning more than five centuries, but continues to be produced using distinct grapes grown in the hills and wineries of the Demarcated Region of the Island of Madeira and aged under heat. Drinking an aged Madeira wine is, as Winston Churchill once put it, is: “drinking liquid history.”
As well as having a unique place in history, Maderian wine is also popular in literature. Famous playwright William Shakespeare made frequent references to the wine, especially Malvasia, in his works. Most notabley, in the play about Henry IV, the character of John Falstaff loved the liquid so much he was accused of selling his soul “for a glass of Madeira and a leg of a capon.”
It’s customary that if you visit a foreign country, you are obliged to drink the local spirit so when in Madeira, why not try Poncha, an alcoholic drink traditionally made with rum and either orange juice or lemon juice.