03 December 2020
Journey across Portugal and you’ll find ever-changing flavours that have been influenced by, and continue to influence, the landscape in which they are found. From the mountain vineyards of Madeira and the bustling fisheries of the Azores to the ranging olive groves of Alentejo, there are unique flavours across Portugal that each tell a story of their region.
This archipelago off the north-west coast of Africa is a popular haunt for visitors looking for year-round sunshine. Madeira’s sub-tropical climate not only ensures that its beaches lay bathed in sun for much of the year but that its vineyards can thrive, producing the fortified wine which takes the islands’ name.
The wine’s distinct flavour owes much of its character to Madeira’s unique geography. Acidity from volcanic soils, salinity from the sea breeze which whips in off the Atlantic, and a freshness which comes from the invigorating mountain air — not all grapes are grown at such altitude.
Across Madeira, you’ll find around 500-hectares of vineyards, with some wineries offering food and wine tours to give you an insight into creation process and allow you to taste the delicious produce paired with Traditional island dishes.
Well-regarded for its eco-tourism credentials, the Azores continues to attract tourists seeking to reconnect with nature amongst the rugged landscapes of geothermal pools, pristine rocky coastlines, and lush green hillsides. In a location so interconnected with the sea, it’s hardly surprising to find that fresh seafood plays a prominent roll in many of the menus that you’ll find whilst visiting. We recommend trying the lapas; these small crustaceans look a lot like clams and are served across the Azores, bathed in garlic butter and finished off with a squeeze of lemon.
If seafood isn’t to your fancy, not to worry, the Azores is also a famed exporter of cheese; in particular, São Jorge cheese. The tangy, spicy, hard cheese is produced across three dairies on the island of the same name. Head to just about any market across the islands and you’ll find a wheel. The islands are also producers of Carne dos Açores, which is beef with Protected Geographical Indication that has been reared in the Azores, and features commonly in dishes such as Cozido das Furnas.
Traditionally a region of vast wheatfields, long-ranging olive groves and sprawling oak plantations, Alentejo is still a sparsely populated region. If you’re looking for privacy and space to unwind, you’ll find it in abundance here whether that’s in the rural hinterlands or along the stunning coastline.
The region’s rustic charm is apparent in its food and drinks which focuses on home-made dishes centring around bread, olives, and wine. You’ll find authentic favourites in villages across the region; we recommend seeking out ensopado de Borrego, this tender lamb stew is cooked with wine (usually local) until it falls off the bone. Alternatively, if you’re seeking a more refined dining experience, head to L'and Vineyards for a tasting menu created from locally sourced organic produce, served with an assortment of Alentejo’s best wines.
After a day on the championship golf courses, relaxing on the Blue Flag awarded beaches or shopping in Faro, what better way to recharge than with an authentic taste of the Algarve?
Piri-Piri chicken may have been made famous by Nando’s but it's in the Algarve that the delicious, barbecued dish has its roots. Visit Albufeira and you’ll find the scent of spices fills the air as the chickens cook on open coal grills. The region also draws much of its culinary influence from the sea with dishes such as grilled sardines, octopus rice and fish stew featuring on many of the menus.
For a sweeter taste of the region, try Dom Rodrigo. This Portuguese dessert has been made in the Algarve since the 18th-century and consists of egg yolks, sugar, cinnamon, ground almonds, and fios de ovos - a traditional confectionary product consisting of thin egg threads. You’ll often find the sweet treat wrapped in colourful foil tied with a ribbon.
Get in touch with your Travel Counsellor today to book your 2021 break to one of Portugal’s cultured regions and take advantage of exclusive benefits such as full financial protection and a 24-hour duty office ready to assist you before, during and even after your trip.