Non-alcoholic drink: Kima – passion fruit juice.
Liquor: Pineapple liquor is a local drink and while we found it too sweet to drink without a mix or tea we’ve seen locals drink it neat first thing in the morning as a digestive.
Local fruit: Pineapple, they put that shit in everything, even the blood sausage.
Meat and Seafood: Beef, Pork, and a variety of grilled and fried fish. Local favorite delicacy is Limpets (or lapas in Portuguese), shelled sea snails of sorts, cooked in various sauces they are chewy and rubbery and I don’t love them just yet. It might take a few tries.
Cheese: OMG cheese. Most restaurant serve fresh cheese which is, as we learned, made of goat or a mix of goat and/or sheep and/or cow’s milk. It‘s wet, incredibly soft and smooth, and melts on your tongue. Usually served with a spicy tomato sauce (not always spicy and often very salty).
Odd things: when you ask for milk for your tea it is served warm. The blood sausage is by default sweet (pineapple). The meal starter is bread with cheese and, sometimes, olives that often get served by default and added to the bill later as a table order or per person. Because their kitchens are only open for lunch and dinner (7PM) there are a lot of snack bars – small convenience store looking places you can drink and smoke in while enjoying either a savory or a sweet pastry. The drinks are small, there are small beers, small milks, small juices, everything is small. There is no junk food, we saw one McDonalds in Ponta Delgada that didn’t appear to be much of a destination.
The bad things: almost everything comes with potatoes, they are not big on seasoning so we always had to ask for pepper, and things are often very, very salty. Due to the lack of seasoning the flavors often seem bland and boring. When you order what looks like steak it isn’t always steak, sometimes it is a thin piece of meat served with a topping, like a fried egg or sandwiched with ham. Having come from Toronto with an avid flavor palate and high expectations we were frequently disappointed.
The good things: once again, cheese! Azores is famous for their seafood so we kept on trying it. We had some great octopus and parrot fish. In Pico we found some great pizza, with a lot of cheese, off course, in Clube Naval in Lajes. On our second night there we had dinner at a restaurant Ancoradouro in Madalena suggested to us by the locals, which was the best meal at this point of the trip. Note that the Cataplana de Marisco is listed as a dish for two, but the two of us ate it for two days so yes, the portions are generally very generous.
During our drives we also stopped and had lunch in local small town cafes, where they hardly ever speak English and serve authentic Azorean meals, the kind they eat at home. Those places were particularly special and wonderful in that rustic simplistic kind of way.