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The best food and drink to try in the culinary hotspot of Madeira


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Try some of the best dishes and drinks on offer on your summer holiday this year (Picture: Alamy/Getty)

There’s a good chance you’ve heard of Madeira wine.

But what else do you know about the local cuisine on the Portuguese island?

Madeira is something of a foodie haven, with tropical dishes and drinks ranging from a famous fruity rum to delicious seafood.


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Plus they serve up plenty of treats from the mainland too.

From ugly but yummy fish to deceptively strong drinks, here are the traditional delicacies you need to try.

Madeira

Bolo do caco

2GE7234 Traditional Madeiran Bread (Bolo de Caco), Funchal, Madeira, Portugal, Europe

Not your average loaf (Picture: Alamy Stock Photo)

This moreish, chewy, circular flatbread is made using sweet potato and traditionally baked on a hot stone slab.

You’ll usually find it slathered with garlic butter or used to make a steak sandwich (known as a ‘prego’).

fish sword

RT3H6G Black scabbardfish (Aphanopus carbo), fish market Funchal Madeira

Ugly but delicious (Picture: Alamy Stock Photo)

The (incredibly) ugly black scabbard fish is a huge delicacy.

Found in the lowest depths of the sea, it makes for a tasty fillet when grilled and is typically served either in a bun or with a sauce made from local bananas or passion fruit.

skewered

skewered

After grilling it’s usually served on an iron hook (Picture: Francisco Correia Photos s7)

Cubes of beef are placed on a skewer made from a branch of laurel and grilled on wood or charcoal.

They’re then served at the table hanging from an iron hook – and more are brought depending on how much your tummy is rumbling.

limpets

BJYG22 Limpets or Lapas Mercado dos Lavradores covered market for producers of island food Funchal Madeira Portugal EU Europe

Seafood is popular here (Picture: Alamy Stock Photo)

Another popular dish, this is found all over the island but especially by the sea. These are limpets, usually served fried in butter and lemon.

banana dumpling

Selected Focus on Banana Cake Slices with blur Banana and blur purple flower on a wood texture tray and wood textured table;  Shutterstock ID 1850042062;  dept:-;  Name: -;  job:-;  page/date: -

Ronaldo’s favorite cake (Picture: Shutterstock / MelaPhotoworks)

Claimed to be Cristiano Ronaldo’s favorite cake, this banana loaf is made light, fluffy and – there, we said it – deliciously moist.

Madeiran stew

Famous azorean food cooked in volcano geyser steam - Cozido das caldeiras

This will fill you up (Picture: Getty Images)

Loosen your trousers for this one. It’s a hearty stew typically made with salted pork, sausages and whole vegetables such as sweet potatoes, all cooked together over a wooden fire. It’s generally served with couscous.

punch

Punch.  Traditional alcoholic drink from the island of Madeira

A little glass goes a long way (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Madeira’s national drink, this is made with local rum distilled from sugar cane, honey, sugar and either orange, lemon or passion fruit juice.

Sample with caution – while it’s served in a small glass, it’s deceptively strong.

Fishermen would drink it after coming back from the sea as a reviver and it’s said by locals to cure colds.

madeira wine

Madeira wine tasting at The Old Blandy Wine Lodge.

You’ve got to try the namesake wine (Picture: Getty Images)

A fortified wine made on the island since the 15th century, this is renowned worldwide and was even used to toast the signing of the US Declaration of Independence in 1776.

Some of the most popular producers include Blandy’s, Justino’s and Pereira d’Oliveiras.

Mainland Portugal

Bacalhau

F3DPG1 Bacalhau to Lagareiro.  Salt cod in olive oil.  Portugal food

A Portuguese classic (Picture: Alamy Stock Photo)

Practically the country’s national dish, this dried, salted cod turns up as an ingredient in hundreds of recipes.

Two of the most popular ways to enjoy it are bacalhau à lagareiro, served with roasted or grilled potatoes and red peppers, and bacalhau à gomes de sá, which is onion shredded cod served with caramelised eggs, boiled eggs, potatoes, and olives.

Bifana

KEBKJR Bifana at Conga, Casa Das Bifanas, Porto, Portugal

One special sandwich (Picture: Alamy Stock Photo)

You might develop an addiction to these delicious sandwiches made from thinly sliced ​​fried pork marinated in garlic and white wine, then served on crusty bread soaked in the sauce.

Cream Pies

DN2CF2 Pasteis De Nata, Custard Tarts, Pasteis De Belem, Lisbon, Portugal

Tartlet heaven (Picture: Alamy Stock Photo)

You can’t miss having one of these for dessert or as a snack, or for breakfast…

Essentially an egg custard baked within a flaky puff pastry tartlet, the addition of powdered sugar and cinnamon elevates it to tartlet perfection.

Medronho

2HH60T1 Medronho fruit (strawberry tree) Arbutus unedo, a fruit used for the famous liquor from the Algarve region in Portugal

These berries are used to make some strong stuff (Picture: Alamy Stock Photo)

A local aguardiente, or firewater, this fruit brandy is made with berries from the medronho tree. At about 50% proof, it’s best approached with caution…

portwine

MDYNDA Sweet Port Dessert Wine ready to Drink

When in Porto… (Picture: Alamy Stock Photo)

Not dissimilar from Madeira wine, again, this is fortified and best sipped as an aperitif or after-dinner drink.

Some of the best comes from the Douro Valley region and these days it’s been adopted by Portugal’s younger, hipper drinkers who blend white port with tonic.

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Get in touch by emailing MetroLifestyleTeam@Metro.co.uk.

MORE : Why Madeira is the hottest European destination you probably haven’t been to… yet!

MORE : Win a luxury five-star holiday for two to the island of Madeira


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