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Food & drinks

Of course Madeira is most famous for the wine named after the island. Madeira wine exists in many varieties, old and young, sweet and dry. A visit to the Adegas de São Francisco in Funchal is definitely worthwhile – here you can not only find out more about the history of this wine, but also taste it!

Madeira has an excellent and varied cuisine; not all restaurants will offer the whole range of Portuguese and Madeiran specialties, but try out the smaller restaurants tucked away in side streets, where locals eat and where you can find good food for low prices. In Funchal, you will also find more sophisticated restaurants offering Portuguese and international cuisine.

Vinho Madeira
   

Espada with bananaOne of the typical Madeiran foods is "peixe espada", black scabbard fish – there are at least 22 different ways to prepare this rather ghastly looking, but very tasty long fish (black on the outside, white on the inside), the most popular being espada fillet with the sweet Madeira bananas. Madeirans are also very fond of cod fish, parrotfish, limpets, squid, wrasse, octopus, and a number of other species, all of which you can find in the many fish restaurants of the island or buy yourself on the market in the centre of town.

   
Lapas

Popular meat dishes include "espetada", a skewer with freshly grilled beef, "carne vinha d'alhos", a typical Christmas dish (pork marinated in vinegar and garlic, combined with bread, sweet potato and orange slices), and "cozido a Madeirense" (a stew with pork, beef, and sweet potato, vegetables). You will always get vegetables or salad as a side dish, generally potatoes and rice, and if you are lucky "milho frito", a kind of Madeiran polenta (made from corn flower), topped with fried onions.

   

Bol de MelAnd then there are the sweets – the most famous being the "bolo de mel", the Madeiran honey cake, sweetened with sugarcane syrup and filled with dry fruits and nuts. Sugarcane syrup also goes into the "broas de mel", honey biscuits. Portuguese sweets are also popular here, such as "pudim de ovos" (a sort of flan) and "pastel de nata", a little puff pastry cake filled with a delicious vanilla cream. Don't forget to try some of the more exotic fruit, such as passion fruit, sugar apples, and banana-ananas!

 

 

Exotic Fruit