Sao Miguel Island Gastronomy
In Sao Miguel, the traditional recipes remain alive in succulent dishes such as caldo azedo (a kind of soup), couves solteiras (prepared with cabbage), fervedouros, polvo guisado em vinho de cheiro (octopus stewed in local wine), torresmos em molho de figado (rashers of bacon with liver sauce), caldeiradas de peixe (fish stews), arroz de lapas (limpets with rice), ensopado de trutas (trout stew), and lapas de molho Afonso (limpets with a tasty sauce). To these must be added the curious cozido prepared at Furnas, where the pot containing meat and vegetables is buried in the soil wrapped in a cloth bag so that the volcanic heat can do its work. After several hours it is ready to delight the palate with its rich flavor.
Lobster, cavaco, crabs, and the strange goose barnacles, hidden in the holes they carve in the rocks, satisfy the needs of shellfish lovers. When it comes to cheese, Sao Miguel can offer a smooth white fresh variety made from goat’s milk and the famous queijo da ilha, made from cow’s milk and with a piquant flavour when dry. The old conventional recipes for desserts are the delight of people with a sweet-tooth. Examples are the queijadas (cheese-cakes) of Vila Franca do Campo, the concertos of Ribeira Grande, the bolo levedo of Furnas as well as the barriga-de-freira, massa sovada, bichos de amendoa, and compota de capucho (a jam made from the small fruit of a herbaceous plant). The Caloura region produces a wine called vinho de cheiro or morangueiro, which is light and has a characteristic flavor. In Sao Miguel the liqueurs made from passion-fruit and pineapples are agreeable ways of concluding a meal.
Pineapples and Tea
One of the curious things about São Miguel is the green-houses for pineapples, which produce flavorful and sweet fruit all year round for markets in many European countries. The main concentrations of green-houses are situated in the areas of Faja de Cima, Lagoa, and Vila Franca do Campo. Tea is also produced on plantations that attract attention because of the unusual and charming sight of the green tea bushes covering hills and dales, divided into fields by hedges of araucarias and Japanese cedars.
Tea growing got under way in the late 19th century. In 1878 two Chinese experts came to São Miguel to teach the islanders the complex tasks involved in its preparation. The main plantations are located at Gorreana, next to the old Chapel of Senhora do Resgate.